Friday, October 6, 2017

Why We Fail With Fear

The Lord is my light and the one who saves me.
    So why should I fear anyone?
The Lord protects my life.
    So why should I be afraid?
~ Psalm 27:1, NCV ~

"It makes me afraid to go anywhere that there are crowds."

If I heard that comment once, I heard it dozens of times the day after the largest mass shooting in American history. The terror and insanity of what happened in Las Vegas left all of us confused, bewildered, sorrowful, reeling. But for some the fear was more dominant than others. It has paralyzed some I know, adding to the cultural undercurrent of constant stress that seems to be bouncing through unsteady veins.

But when I step back, I have to believe that it's just these types of circumstances that are the proving fire, testing whether we truly believe what we claim to believe. And I think in watching this, God has clarified to me why we fail so miserably when it comes to dealing with fear. 

"FEAR NOT," or "Do not be afraid," are the commands most frequently spoken forth by God in His word. Like a gentle Daddy, sitting by our side in life's surgical waiting room, He snuggles next to us, patting our hands, and offering us loving reassurance.

Yet, so few of us have been able to get those comforting words to relocate from our heads to our hearts. We offer the Lord something akin to a pained smile when He offers His comfort and then continue on dealing with angst the way we always do. I think this happens for a few reasons:

  1. WE want to be in control. — Like a red-faced, tight-fisted, stubborn little child, we insist on having things our own way. Trust God? What if He doesn't give us what we want? We can't fathom that He would work out everything... EVERYTHING for our good and His glory. I can recall trying to become pregnant 22 years ago to no avail. I couldn't possibly fathom how a loving God could think it would be better for me to never fulfill the life dream of motherhood. Thankfully, God was patient with me and revealed that His love was so big that perhaps He would make me a mother by offering us the opportunity to parent a child through adoption. That isn't how our family story played out, but the Lord surely grew me in faith during those difficult years. Miscarriage, infertility treatment, building a dossier for adoption all stretched me enough to prepare me to become the mother of children with serious chronic illnesses and rare disorders. He went before me, and I am SO glad that our story has worked out His way instead of mine.
  2. We are afraid the worst will happen. — No one knows better than parents raising children with disabilities and special needs that bad things can and do happen. When we first face that early diagnostic phase, it feels like the world has come crumbling down around us. But over time, our loving Father grows us to a point where we gain competence and redefine "normal" in our lives. We learn that there IS still life after the worst case scenario. God's redemptive power is no more clearly on display in a very real sense than when the world can see that He creates beauty out of our brokenness... Broken dreams, disappointed expectations, and discouraged faith. Still, we seem to teeter on belief that we really ARE assured a place in heaven if the unthinkable occurs. It makes us much as James describes in James 1:5-8, tossed around by life's chaos.
I have seen the monster of FEAR invade my recent conversations with parents about everything from medical decisions, to racial tensions, to financial crises, to world events. I have felt sorrowful as I watch others I am chatting with wonder who their friends really are, what will happen to them next, or if they're making the right decisions. At times like this, we need to stretch ourselves, be willing to fall, make decision to surrender to the power of the Holy Spirit, and push back against those worries remembering...
...God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7, NKJV)
If we want to truly succeed in managing our fears rather than having them manage us, we must come to the epiphany that God's will shall be done regardless of whether life turns out the way we think it should. It isn't necessarily a one-time realization either.

This summer, as I prepared to send my daughter to Japan for a year — a North Korean madman lobbing missiles and threatening the world — I had "the conversation" with her. 
"If something happens to you while you're abroad, I will miss you terribly and I'll be devastated, but I will at least know where you are. And I will be TICKED that you got to go before me."
"If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord." 
(Romans 14:8, NIV)

Now, despite typhoons, earthquakes, and multiple missile lobs in her direction, our family rests secure. Does our heart race and our countenance get nervous when we experience these things? Yes. However, we remind ourselves who God is and rest in knowing the ultimate outcome of it all.

We have to come to a crossroads deciding whether we believe Paul's divinely inspired words, experiencing great release or whether we will stubbornly chose our own way. As for me, I want to live in the freedom of knowing that no matter what happens, I know my destination and that of those I love. I don't have to be in control. My way always turns out too messy anyway. Better instead to let God take full control and walk in His presence no matter my location or circumstances.

Pray with me...

Lord, I'm tired of failing with fear. Holy Spirit, strengthen my awareness and guide me to walking in Your power rather than my own. I am so weak, but You are so wise. Jesus, I trust You.

~ Barb Dittrich


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, Tammie! Fear is a LIAR. Let's surrender to the One who is bigger than any fear we could face.