We often deal with fear in our lives. To be afraid is not a sin, but can be perceived, like worry, as not trusting God for all of our circumstances. Fear comes in all shapes and sizes, and for both rational and irrational reasons. We can be afraid of a lot of things, from severe turbulence on our flight, to our favorite sports team losing a big game. Oftentimes in my life fear has come around health or medical issues. Let me explain.
Early in our marriage, my wife had a brain tumor. After two surgeries and radiation treatment, she has been healthy for 32 years now. But some recent eye issues led one of her doctors to order an MRI “just to rule everything out”. We knew what that meant, and it really rocked our world. We prayed as much as we had ever prayed, trusting God for His will to be done. Because of another serious medical issue in the family, we decided not to burden an already overly taxed family about the upcoming MRI, which could end up revealing nothing anyway. We grew closer together during the time leading up to the procedure. However, while impatiently waiting for the MRI results, even as we prayed, fear crept in, especially as we thought about all of the “What if’s”.
It was during this time that a verse from Isaiah 41 started to show up. Don’t you love it when the Holy Spirit puts a piece of scripture in front of you multiple times and from multiple sources (sermon, Bible reading, devotional reading, etc.), just to get your attention? That’s what He did for me.
Walking into a hospital to visit a dear family member, I saw a piece of artwork with this verse printed on it:
Fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
No matter how many times I walked past that verse, it always gave me comfort. Then, just two days ago as I was reading the morning devotion from Charles Spurgeon in his classic book Morning and Evening, the same verse was repeated. And yesterday, while reading the daily reading in Tabletalk magazine, I read from Joshua 8:1 “The Lord said to Joshua, ‘Do not fear and do not be dismayed’. Amazing.
Going back to when Tammy’s illness was first diagnosed, our pastor at the time gave me a verse from Psalm 56 that has also been of great comfort to me recently, as I used it as a prayer. We had travelled to the University of Iowa Hospital for a second opinion, not expecting to spend the night. When we received the devastating diagnosis (the initial CAT Scan had been misread), I checked into a local motel and in a state of shock, called our pastor. The verse that he gave me, from the King James Version was “When I am afraid, I will trust in Thee” (verse 3). Even better is looking at Psalm 56: 3-4 (from the English Standard Version):
When I am afraid,
I put my trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
What can flesh do to me?
Pastor and author Rick Warren has said that God obviously wanted Christians to stop worrying, as there are 365 mentions of “fear not” in the Bible. Now, I don’t know if that is true or not, but I know that the Bible does have a lot to say about fear and worry. Fear not, or don’t be afraid, was something that Jesus said often to people – He knows us well, doesn’t He? Even at Jesus’ birth announcement an angel of the Lord appeared to shepherds, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.”
Fear and worry are things that all of us will deal with from time to time, no matter how strong our faith is. What I want to encourage you with is to go to scripture and use it in your prayers as you are dealing with fear. In addition to the ones I mention above, here are 5 others that may be of help to you during your time of fear and worry:
Psalm 27:1 – The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
Matthew 6:34 – Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
John 14:27 – Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
1 Peter 5: 6-7 – Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
And don’t miss the verse with the promise of peace…
Philippians 4: 6-7 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
What passages of scripture do you go to when you are afraid?