"The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?"
Yesterday we talked about fears that cause us to lack trust. Today I want to share how I faced and overcame my deeply buried fear (terror) and learned to trust and love again. (To read yesterday's Daily Encounter, go to www.actsweb.org and click on Encounter Archives in the left column). Today we want to discuss how to overcome fear/s and learn how to trust.
First, I acknowledged the fact that my fear was my problem. Had I blamed anyone else for it, I would have lost the greatest human love I've ever known.
Second, I was determined that, with God's help, I wouldn't allow my fear to control me. And, by the way, if we don't acknowledge our fear and "own" it, it will control us one way or anotherâ€”usually unconsciously, such as being very angry and defensive when we are afraid, setting ourselves up to fail, looking for love in the wrong places, and avoiding many good opportunities, etc., etc.
Third, I asked God to help me get to the root cause/s of my fear and lead me to the help I needed to overcome it. Every day I committed and trusted my life and way to God, and I often quoted the psalm of David who, when King Saul was hunting him down to kill him, said, "The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?"
Fourth, I shared my struggles with my closest friends whom I knew wouldn't tell me to just "get over it" or tell me that I wasn't trusting God or offer various other bits of over-simplistic, insensitive and useless, unsolicited advice.
Fifth, I got into two years of very intensive counseling with in-depth therapy. It wasn't easy (in fact it was very challenging), but with God's help, the professional counseling, and the loving support of understanding friends, I made it just fine.
Because I never learned to trust as a child, I had to learn it as an adult. As I stepped out of my comfort zone, admitted my problem to God, to supporting friends, and a helpful counselor, and found that they loved and accepted me anyhow, little by little I learned to trust and love.
Fears are real. I know. The apostle Paul did too, otherwise why would God have sent an angel to him when he was in prison to tell him to "fear not?" He knew he wasn't going to get out alive and was undoubtedly scared to death even though he was also trusting God.
According to one Bible scholar, there are 350 "fear nots" in the Bibleâ€”one for every day of the year. Obviously God understands our struggle with fear and lack of trust.
I think it was General George Washington who said to his soldiers when they had to cross the Potomac River with their rifles and battle gear in hand, "Trust God but keep your powder dry!" In other words, acknowledge and own your fears. Trust God and accept responsibility and seek the help you need to overcome them. The only people that God or anyone else can help are those who admit and say, "I have a problem. I need help."
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you that you understand me and my fears (and all my weaknesses). Please give me the courage to see and admit my fears, and lead me to the help I need to overcome them so that I can learn to trust and love again. And in the words of another, 'Oh God, don't let me die without having fully lived and fully loved.' Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. Psalm 118:6 (NIV).