“ONE LAST FEAR”
Well, I thought my blog series on fear was over until my wife had a special request. She asked me to write a blog about the “FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN”. It’s a fear she said that a lot of people deal with at different levels. The more we talked, the more I realized how real and relevant this subject is. She shared how she feels as a mother dealing with this subject and honestly, as a Father, I have some worries about the unknown myself. With that being said, I took some time and gathered my thoughts and began to write them down. Understand, that what you’re getting to read is coming from a Pastor, husband and Dad. Those are my credentials.
We obviously know what fear means, but the word “Unknown” is defined as, what is not familiar. It has synonyms like, mystery, strange and uncertain. Therefore, anything that is not familiar can cause us to be afraid. We don’t respond well to what is strange to us. For many, uncertainty can almost feel like an enemy. We tell our kids “Don’t talk to strangers”. We’re advised to not invest our money into things that are not certain. When we hear these words, we’ve been taught to run away.
There is nothing more uncertain and mysterious than the future. Because of that, we start to fear it. Many times after worrying about the future,we have a tendency to follow it up with a list of hypothetical questions beginning with, “WHAT IF”.What if I get a terminal disease?
- What if I get a terminal disease?
- What if we loose our home?
- What if something bad happens to my child?
- What if we don’t have enough money to retire?
- What if God is not real?
- What if there is no Heaven?
You may read the last two questions and think that’s too extreme, especially for a Christian, but I assure you that fear can push you that far. I’ve spoken with ministers that have struggled with the existence of God and Heaven. You might think that should disqualify them from the ministry, but I think it’s being transparent and honest. You may be surprised how many actually fight this fear. Remember, we walk by faith and not by sight. We seek the tangible, but we have to trust in the invisible. For us humans…that can be hard sometimes.
Let’s be honest…we like to know things and we like to control things and we don’t have either in the unknown. Whatever we can’t control, we usually avoid…but we can’t avoid the future, so we’re afraid of it. I can handle the darkness as long as I know where the light switch is. Seeing a large vicious animal doesn’t frighten me, as long as I know it’s locked in a cage. If I can see the bottom, I love swimming and having fun in the water. All of these examples prove that as long as we have the knowledge and control of something, we’re alright. However, if that is taken away, we are extremely fearful.
This fear can cause extreme stress, worry and anxiety. Many people need to have council and even medication to cope with it. Instead of enjoying the journey of life, they fear aging and stress about the upcoming season. It can even go as far as keeping people locked up in their homes, like a prison. They’re so afraid of what can happen on the outside, they choose to become prisoners in their own home. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in using complete caution, especially with our children. Where they go, what music they listen to, and what they’re allowed to view online. I think you understand the extremities I’m referring to.
Whether you would rate your fear of the unknown at a three or a ten, the fact is, it’s a real fear. How do we conquer it? I don’t really think we do. I know that sounds strange, but let me explain. First of all, if you are struggling with extreme anxiety, God can give you peace that passes all understanding. I personally believe there is a difference in fear and the spirit of fear. As strange as it may sound, there is a fear that is natural and there is a spirit of fear that causes imprisonment. It’s a natural fear that keeps me from doing certain things, because it may cause me harm. I’m fearful of what it could do. The spirit of fear however, is from our enemy. This is the one that Paul said, “God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind”. 2 Timothy 1:7
It’s an out of control feeling with no limits. It will push you to places you never thought you’d go. This is the spirit of fear and it’s one of the devil’s favorite ways to get into your mind and torture you. We all deal with some level of fear of the unknown, but we don’t have to fall victim to the spirit of it. We can have concerns about the future, but it shouldn’t harm our lives in the present. Sometimes being afraid of something can motivate us to change. The spirit of fear doesn’t motivate, it manipulates. That spirit must be rebuked and conquered. A few steps in the Word of God and a healing touch from heaven, can free you from this extreme fear.
You may think this sounds negative, but the truth is, there are a lot of things in this life that I don’t know how they’re going to turn out. Just because I’m a Christian doesn’t mean I’m going to be able to control my surroundings, nor does it mean I’m exempt from pain and hurt. What I do know is, God gives us grace to walk every step He has ordered for us. Think of this. Paul said in Ephesian 2:8 that we are “SAVED BY GRACE”. Jesus said in Matthew 24:13, “HE THAT ENDURES TO THE END SHALL BE SAVED.” God’s graces saved me from my sins, but His grace is still saving me until I get to heaven. I didn’t just need grace to become a child of God, I need His grace to continue being His child. Grace is not a one time event that happened at an altar, it’s an on going strength for everything we will face between this life and Heaven.
My wife said she looks at God’s grace as something that is given per trial as well as the amount you need. You may look at someone going through a storm and say, “I could never go through that”. However, someone may look at your trials and think the same thing. You don’t think you can go though something, because you haven’t needed or experienced the grace of God for that particular trial. I’m not saying problems aren’t coming your way, I just want you to know, that whatever does come, there will be enough of God’s grace to take you through it. Remember, you’re being saved by God’s grace.
Paul struggled with an irritating thorn in his flesh and he asked God, three times to remove it. The Lord each time replied, “MY GRACE IS SUFFICIENT FOR YOU”. Paul kept asking until he finally understood. After the last time, Paul felt God’s grace helping him in spite of what he was suffering and he never mentioned it again. My advise to you is keep asking until you understand it, but once His grace is revealed to you, you’ll never ask again. You may still have a thorn, but you won’t have the spirit of fear. You’ll be able to endure life because you embrace grace.
Fear is a God given feeling to protect you from immediate danger, but the spirit of fear is an immobilizing attack of the enemy. Not knowing what the future holds in this life doesn’t make me afraid, but it reminds me that I have to trust in God. Sometimes we have fear, but we need to rebuke the spirit of fear. So, if you are fearful of what tomorrow may bring… I’ll leave you with one of my favorite scriptures in the Bible.
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV)