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Ways we Handle our Fears - Pt.1

    Fear not, for…you are mine. When you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned. For I am the Lord your Savior…and I love you. (Taken from Isaiah 43:1-4).

    A lady approached me after Church a little while back. She was obviously upset. She began by telling me she must not be frightened. She admitted to having been fearful that week. She believed this was terribly wrong. She felt she was not living up to her faith by having experienced fear. She thought she should have claimed victory and stood against the fear, as that is what she believed Jesus would have wanted. She believed she had let God down very badly by giving in to those feelings of fear. She added she had now overcome her fear, given it to God, and was no longer afraid.

    Then for the next 25 minutes she told me all about her fears!! She was certainly still afraid. She was shaking, her voice quivering, her eyes intense...

    I left her after half an hour, only because I had to, and I felt rather sad. Here, this dear lady, had come to Church needing peace and help, and yet she had taken upon herself a sense of condemnation! She believed that all the other worshippers were living victorious, wonderful lives with no problems whatever. How wrong she was!! Probably most of the congregation was facing some type of difficulty or challenge.

    This lady had a REAL reason for being afraid. Her husband had nearly died! He has nearly died a couple of times before. During this past week he had suddenly become very ill, and had been rushed to hospital with severe bowel problems. He was still seriously ill in hospital with as yet no diagnosis for his symptoms. Added to that, his brother had died of bowel problems just six weeks after his particular illness appeared, and the illness was a genetic type. She was quite understandably fearful!!

    What I believe this lady did was to deny her REAL fear, rather than face it. Couching our fears in spiritual terms it is often a very easy escape mechanism that some Christians employ in order to avoid dealing with important issues, which really need handling. Avoidance is one of the very worst ways to handle our fears. Trying to spiritualize them away simply does not solve them! It is not helpful or honest. It makes us feel guilt and shame when the fears return, as they will until they are handled differently.

    Other fears are IMAGINED fears. These are fears that control many lives. They are the ones that often begin with "What if?” statements, and most of them never happen. “What if our house burns down?” or “What if a truck slams through my office window?” These fears usually are unfounded and unlikely to occur, but they cause us so much needless worry and debilitate us for no good reason. These are also fears I believe God wants us to face in an honest manner, and not deny. Often it is much harder to identify IMAGINED fears, as they can be quite nebulous to our consciousness.

    Sometimes it is difficult to identify our fears. C.B. Keogh suggests asking four questions, which I have found really helpful:

      What exactly am I fearful about?

      Is it certain, probable, or only possible?

      How important is it?

      In practical terms, what can I do about it?

    As an abused child, I lived with many REAL fears. I could not sleep at night. I was terrified, all day long, because I never knew what might happen at any given time. There were a few months where I feared for my next meal. I have feared literally for life itself. As a child, these fears are absolutely terrifying because at such a tender age there literally was no way of solving such situations.

    As an adult I have had to identify and deal with many once REAL, but now IMAGINED fears. This is one of the biggest challenges for survivors of abuse. It is so easy to still feel the real threat of something, which is now passed. Resolving the REAL fear of sexual contact THEN, as a child, has enabled me to accept that this has now become an IMAGINED fear in a now loving sexual relationship. I talk quite often to women who cannot ever enjoy the sexual component of their marriage because of the damage done to them in this area years before.

    This is such a shame. It is not what God has planned. There IS a way through. There IS hope. There ARE answers. Oh, yes, they do not come without effort, and pain, and years of hard work. I have received many years of prayer and counseling, but that makes it all so worthwhile when you reach the finishing straight. Then you can make up for lost time!!!

    I am learning to admit my fears to God. I come to my Creator, who sustains me, and I shelter beneath those arms I imagine. I rest. I remain in the 'shadow of the Almighty', as the Bible puts it. I take refuge from the storm about me by staying as close to God as I know how. This God is real, is tough, and endures forever. Nothing is ever going to shake this God of mine.

    This gives me the confidence to cry out, and seek help. I pour out all my worries and anxieties. I believe in a God who can cope with ALL my emotions! If God made me, and knows my situation, which the Bible says is true about God, then I feel absolutely certain that this One is there for me, during every phase and development of my entire life. If I cannot be myself with the One who made me, I believe I am deceiving myself.

    PRAYER: O Loving Father, help me to recognize REAL fears that I need to face, as I fully lean on you for support. Give me courage and surround me with your love and care. Show me where I can find human help if I need it. May I never be afraid to admit that I am human! Gracious Lord, often my worrying and stewing over what are IMAGINED fears drag me down and hinder my enjoyment of life. Help me to identify these, too, and to seek your help, and whatever other help I need to overcome these too. I trust myself into your precious arms with all my fears. For I know you love me so much. Amen.

    TODAY: In your quiet reflections today, ask yourself to identify exactly WHAT it is you fear. Then categorize these fears into REAL and IMAGINED fears, making a list so that you can come back to them and work through them over the next days, weeks, or years. Ask for the Lord’s help in dealing with these fears. Keep the list so that you can remember exactly what you have done today. God bless you!!!

    © 2004 Christine M. Jones

    Droplets from Life

    Christine Jones is married to David. She has two adult children and precious grandchildren. She has worked for many years as a school teacher/librarian, and written children's material for several years in her 'spare time'. She loves nature, music and the theatre.

    John Mark Ministries
    djandcj@optusnet.com.au