Fear Doesn’t Get the Last Word

The first time I met Robert*, he sat quietly with shoulders hunched, looking like he wanted to melt into the white plastic chair we’d offered him. His gaze fell to the floor, eyes telling a story devoid of hope or joy. Most men his age would have traveled alone, but Robert came with his father, who now spoke on his behalf. The reason was clear – a massive tumor protruded from Robert’s jaw, hindering his ability to eat or speak, and bringing him ridicule or rejection from most of society.

The two had traveled several days from their village to reach our hospital, in hopes that Robert could receive surgery and leave his tumor behind. For the next few days as he awaited surgery, shame and fear kept Robert secluded in his room, hidden away from everyone else in our center.

Rachel Olson Fear (1)

But when the morning of his surgery finally came, Robert was nowhere to be found. He’d heard the fearful rumors of his village louder than the reassurances of his father. He ran away at the last minute, terrified of the one place offering free relief from his burden.

When Robert disappeared, his father spent every minute trying to find him. After about a week, Robert returned in spite of the fear and had a successful surgery. Not only that, but a few months later he returned with 4 friends from his village to see if they could also receive help for their medical needs! Once crippled by fear, he now wanted others to know the freedom he’d found. I hardly recognized the young man in front of me who now stood tall and confident, grinning ear to ear.

The details of Robert’s experience go far beyond my ability to understand or relate to – so I want to be sure I don’t minimize that in any way when I say this – but on some level, there’s something about his story that resonates. The voices of our culture, people close to us, and our own doubts and fears speak loudly at times, telling us what to value and how to live; clamoring for us to cling to the security we think we can see, even in times when God is calling us to embrace risk and make decisions that require complete trust in him. Whose voice will we hear louder?

Fear Rachel Olson

When I look at fear through the lens of this story, it becomes powerless. I see the reflection of the One who is worthy of my love and trust. While we may not always understand what he asks of us and it may be a long and windy road before we see the purpose in some of it, he is good and his ways ultimately lead to freedom. May we set aside our own village rumors and trust fully in the reassurances of our Father.


Rachel Olson HeadshotRachel Olson recently moved back to the United States after making Africa home for 2 years. She hopes to live there again someday soon, where she enjoyed sharing life with hospital patients, learning (and eating!) new things and seeing God offer hope in life’s hard places. Here in the US, she loves a good street taco, card game or deep conversation with friends and family. She longs to see Jesus at work in all of life’s changes, joys, and struggles, and writing helps her make a little more sense of it all. You can find more from Rachel on her blog and Instagram.

 

*name changed

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Finding Confident Faith in the Face of Fear

Author: Karly Grant

All of my life I’ve been a worrier. I still remember the prayer that I prayed every night before I went to sleep as a child, “Dear God, thank you for another day. Please help my family to sleep well and to stay safe. Please don’t let there be any fires, earthquakes, or anyone breaking into our house while we sleep. In Jesus name, Amen.”

As I’ve grown up, and grown in my faith, most of my fears have lessened and my prayers have become less rote (although I’m definitely not one to skimp on the “Help me, Jesus!” prayers that I often need). While most of these childish fears only return if I’m in real danger, there is one that has stuck with me from childhoodthe fear of failure. God desires for his children to live in freedom, and as he guides me through my current struggles, I am taken back to my childhood where this fear rooted long ago.

Karly Grant Fear

I revealed the litany I ran through nightly as a child, but once a year, on New Year’s Eve, I would also ask God not to let Jesus return that year. One of my earliest memories is accepting Christ at four or five years old. While I fully believe that I was saved that day, I didn’t automatically have all the answers and that scared me. I cried to my mom one day when I was about six because I was terrified of Jesus returning. I didn’t have the Bible memorized, and in my mind, I was going to get to Heaven and there would be a test. I was afraid I would fail God. My mom lovingly explained the truth to me, but for many years, I thought God would find I failed, and if I could just postpone a little longer surely I would get there. I still haven’t found perfection, but I have found grace.

God was on his own level but this fear seeped down to my relationships with family as well. There was a time when I was about eight that my family was visiting friends overnight. I woke up the next morning and the lady we were staying with told me that my parents were at the hospital because my mom had been struck with a migraine. This was a semi-common occurrence during this stage of my life, but somehow, being in a different city made it seem different. I, being the oldest of three kids at that time, felt the pressure of telling my sisters and comforting them. What if something happened to my mom? Would I know what to do? I piled unnecessary pressure on myself as a child, and I was afraid I would fail them all as I reached for my self-imposed unrealistic expectations.

_On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate._ -Psalm 145_5

Now I fear failing at life in general. I took some huge steps of faith in a direction that I felt God calling me and it looks nothing like what I thought it would. I can’t help but wonder am I failing those who supported me? I am currently unemployed and still living in a place that I am prepared to say goodbye to. My timeline has failed me, and the enemy is quick to step into this area of my life and hiss lies.

Here in the waiting is where God and I are camping. I’ve been fighting against the enemy and speaking truth about who God is and who He says I am, going from fear of failure to confidence that can only be found through God. Scripture and music have been key to remaining saturated in truth. My times of musical worship at home are anything but pretty. I often cry, sing horribly, and pound on the keys of my keyboard. While I may look miserable to an onlooker, these are sweet times with my Savior and some of the strongest points of warfare against our enemy. Michael W. Smith has a song that I’ve been listening to often these days called Surrounded. Some of the lyrics are “This is how I fight my battles… It may look like I’m surrounded, but I’m surrounded by You.

I’ve been doing a Bible study called Psalms for Prayer. While I read these Psalms that I’ve read many times before, they have been hitting me anew.

“On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.” -Psalm 145:5

I find that reading scripture out loud and declaring the goodness of God is life-changing. God is so good. I realize in these times that I can be confident in Him. I don’t have to fear failure. He has a plan. He is with me. He never fails.


Karly Grant headshotKarly is a single 30-something who is striving to follow Jesus and trust Him in every situation. She can be found with a cup of tea or a good beer in hand while cozied up with a good book or enjoying a laugh with family or friends. God has her on a wild journey. In the last year, she has quit her job of 15+ years and gone back to school full-time to pursue a career/ministry in the realm of adoption. She is both terrified and excited to see how God moves and what opportunities He provides in this adventure.

Hope for When it’s Go Time

Author: Chara Donahue

I was with my mom the first time I felt the thrill of a roller coaster, and last summer I stood in line for the same coaster, twenty-something years later with my own daughter. She waited nervously, boarded, and then…AND THEN… she jumped out of her seat and practically cemented herself onto the exit landing! She panicked. The moment she had been waiting for arrived, and she jumped ship completely. That day she chose fear over adventure.

Having to wait leaves ample time for us to let fear move into the front of our minds, so much so, that we can become crippled by anxious forebodings. We must find peace in the waiting, but we cannot allow it to make us comfortable, inactive, and resigned to the point that when it’s go-time and the dream is about to become reality, we run the other direction in fear.

We see this in the bride experiencing cold feet, the newly discovered talent getting stage fright, or that first date/day of college/new career. Two paths lie before us in these moments of anticipation, excitement and fear. Our fragile hearts may have trouble discerning the difference, but our actions will show our resolution.

We must choose a side. Will we run into, or away from, what we’ve been waiting for?

As we make our way through a fallen world, it can become easy to disbelieve our deep hopes, dreams, and stuff we don’t dare to ask or imagine could ever become a reality. We’ve had expectations crushed, plans deconstructed, and have sat in the trenches of fear wondering if moving forward, pursuing purpose, and hoping for the things of God is even worth it.

We need not submit to being tortured by questions such as: how we will handle it if what we’ve been waiting for isn’t as good as we hoped, or  what we will do if this too is taken away? A heavy heart, and  suspicious mind are all we gain when we act like we can control the unpredictable future that God is asking us to leave in His hands.

“Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”-1 Peter 5:7

We cannot exchange promises for predictability. We prefer known pain to uncertainty. But we must not allow predictable pain to build illusions of security. It is nothing but a frail attempt to stave off being vulnerable to disappointment.

The Israelites whom God freed from the chains of oppressive slavery had waited and wandered toward the land God destined for them. They reached it, the first time, approximately close to two years after being freed from captivity. They  had their toes on the edge of the promised land, their wait was finally coming to an end, and then…AND THEN… they began to rebel against the hope that faith in a Holy God would see them through. They saw themselves as fools for believing, took their eyes off of the God of their deliverance, and they were focused only on all that could go wrong. They shouted, “Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?” And they said to one another, “Let us choose a leader and go back to Egypt.[1]  They were ready to run, and because of their disbelief, they wandered the dessert for 40 years before taking hold of what God had promised. A full generation perished.

It doesn’t take much for people to turn back, scramble, and flee.

We preach a good God, but yet can act like He is out to get us. Because of Jesus we are not stalked by the wrath of God but are cleansed and brought near by His relentless love. In the blessing and the trial He is good. Yet in the blessing we fear, and in the trial we question. God has not given us a spirit of fear or demanded that we have it all figured out. Instead, He has offered us rest, peace, and promises we can trust Him. Why must we insist on striving in every season of life? Yes, there will be times of suffering, loss, and trial but there are also times of life, celebration, and blessing. Whatever the season, we can trust Him to sustain us, to never forsake us, and to be with us where ever we go.

May we immerse ourselves in the truth of Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

The fear of disappointment can flow deep below the surface, but we cannot allow it to keep us from embracing the good gifts of a loving God. The mix of excitement and nerves washes over us with a new hope as we get closer to seeing what we have been waiting for be birthed into reality. Our heart can choose celebration or panic, adventure or self-inflicted little deaths.  We can step into the joy of the moment, or skulk slowly away in the shadows of fear.

Do not cower when go-time finally arrives; remember— God is who He says He is. Not a warden out to get you, but a Father who is for you. Let’s stop letting fear rob the children of God, and trust him by going into the new beginnings He has waiting.


Readers,  
What helps you find the courage to go after the things of God? 
Thank you for joining us for our February series The Wait, we hope you will join us in March for New Beginnings

Chara is a freelance writer, certified biblical counselor, and speaker. She holds a MSEd from Corban University and is passionate about seeing people set free through God’s truths. She loves to write about faith, culture,  and the deep truths that drive our fascinations with it. Chara is the founder and editor of  Anchored Voices and can be found on multiple social media platforms @CharaDonahue.