My three-year-old granddaughter is afraid of everything. She's afraid lions lurk in the dining room when the lights are off, that the next page in the storybook is going to show a cat scratching a dog (we skip that page), and that any food other than peanut butter will poison her.
Of course, we know those fears are ridiculous. Most of us go through life never worrying about carnivores in the house, are able to read about the interactions between animal species without batting an eye, and eat a wide variety of foods. But looking at her fears has made me wonder what our fears look like to God. Are our fears just as silly to him, but he takes into account our immaturity—just as I do with my granddaughter? Such fears remind me of Leviticus 26:36: "You will live in such fear that the sound of a leaf driven by the wind will send you fleeing. You will run as though fleeing from a sword, and you will fall even when no one pursues you" (NLT).
Nevertheless, fear is a universal human emotion. David says in Psalm 55:4-6, "My heart pounds in my chest. … Fear and trembling overwhelm me, and I can't stop shaking. Oh, that I had wings like a dove, then I would fly away and rest" (NLT). Have you felt that way at times? Fear so palpable that it affected you physically, and you wanted simply to flee?
Yet our lives do have valid things for us to fear: loss of job, possessions, health, family, and even life. So how can we deal with our natural fear? David goes on to say in Psalm 55:16-18, "But I will call on God, and the lord will rescue me. Morning, noon, and night I cry out in my distress, and the lord hears my voice. He ransoms me and keeps me safe from the battle waged against me" (NLT).
Note that the battle waged against David. God didn't stop the battle—it still roared on around him. God doesn't always change our circumstances. We may pray that he heal our cancer, deliver us from bankruptcy, or protect us from harm during war, but he doesn't always do that.
So how can crying out to him all day help us with our fears? Because it reminds us that we can trust God and his never-failing love and character, even if he doesn't change our circumstances. David goes on to say in Psalm 55:22, "Give your burdens to the lord, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall" (NLT). Though David's words seem contradictory, the truth is that even when we do slip and fall, God is still faithful to us. We trust his care, even when that care doesn't deliver us from our difficulties.
We have a choice about how to handle our fear. We can let it paralyze us, or we can surrender what we cannot control to God and decide to move forward in faith—camping on the certainty that no matter what happens, God loves us. In Romans 8:38, the apostle Paul writes, "I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love" (NLT).
Nothing could be better than a good, wise Father who loves us so much that he's working way beyond our understanding to bring us the best—he's behind the scenes working on our behalf, even in the midst of our fears. If that's the case, then we really do have nothing to fear.
JoHannah Reardon is managing editor of ChristianBible Studies.com. For more in-depth Bible studies, go to Christian BibleStudies.com or TodaysChristianWoman.com/ja2009.
Copyright © 2009 by the author or Christianity Today/Today's Christian Woman magazine.
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