Stress and pressure are like strong winds. They knock us off our feet and send us tumbling, flailing for support.
As long as we keep God at our backs, we can stand.
I often use the prayer picture of a piece of paper, wind-plastered against a cliff, pressed so tightly against the rock face that you can see every groove and jut in the rock.
Isn’t that our prayer as Christians? “Lord, shape me to be like You.”
Life’s struggles are often His best tools.
So why hadn’t I recognized that fear is only another tool? Carolyn Watts writes that “fear can be an asset—if we learn how to let it lead us closer to Jesus.” (see How to Turn Fear into an Asset)
Or as a good friend said to me the other day, “Fear is a driver—it can drive you to God, or deeper into fear. Pray to choose wisely.”
This puts fear in the same category as trials, temptations, stresses and even gifts: something God can use in our lives to develop perseverance and endurance. Instead of freezing up or shrinking inward, we can invite Jesus into our fear, ask Him to use it to draw us closer to Him—to let it press us into His likeness.
We can praise Him and rejoice over what He’s going to do, even though we can’t yet see what that will be.
Thanking God in our fear, instead of letting it close us off from Him… this is delightfully subversive and not at all what the enemy of our souls has in mind, I’m sure. But it matches Scripture: “For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow,” (James 1:3, NLT) and “Be thankful in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18a, NLT).
It comes down to this: who/what do we believe is stronger, God or fear? The loyalty to God that I’ve been reading about in the Book of James gives me my answer.
Not that I’m going to welcome fear, to throw open the door and invite it in, but this breaks its power. This lets me press into God, lets me know I’m in good hands and it’ll be okay. No matter what.
[If fear is one of your struggles, I highly recommend following the posts at Hearing the Heartbeat, beginning with How Do You Hear God’s Don’t Be Afraid?]