I was afraid to write this article. I was afraid you’d read it and hate it. I was afraid that I was the last person who should be writing about faith because I’m not a biblical scholar or even a Sunday school teacher.
I’m just an English major, and I was afraid you would have stopped reading by now. So I prayed about it, and here’s what God told my fearful spirit: “It’s OK.”
Life is good at scaring us. Things change. We move. We get married. We get new jobs. We start college, and as those things shift around us, fear wells within us. At first, I wanted a way to combat the fear, a surefire way to keep from getting scared, but I realized that I couldn’t muscle away my anxiety.
I needed it.
Finding God in Fear
You’re not alone in your fear. I think I forget that. I think I picture the rest of the world around me bustling with confident people who don’t make pro and con lists before making a decision. Fear and doubt lie to us, tell us we are the only ones who feel that way, but so many before you have been afraid and have been helped by grace. Me included.
Fear squeezes our bodies and minds into uncomfortable places, but we can’t miss the best part of fear. That’s right. The best part of fear exists, and it’s a desperate need for Christ and an exceptional chance to grow closer to him.
You will find God where there’s fear. I had to realize I didn’t have to handle change with perfect poise. I could be a little scared, but I also had to realize I needed God and I needed to trust him with my worries.
I’m reminded of Isaiah 41:10, which says, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
It’s OK to be afraid because fear can be a perfect place for God to work. Sometimes I feel like I get thrown into these situations where I have to go into survival mode. I’m beating back flames and trying to find my way and I just want to breathe.
Of all people, Lord, you send me, I’ll pray.Scared, hyperventilating, young me.
Maybe your prayers sound like that. Why did you send me to a huge university so I could fail? Why did you give me an internship in a town I’ve never been to? Why was that job a reminder of how inadequate I am? Why can’t I be braver?
Because we need Jesus.
Give it Up
There’s a second part to fear I sometimes miss. I give in. I get so worried I can’t sleep. I get frustrated because I know I’ve cowardly quit, and I’ve usually missed out on something great.
Francis Chan writes in “Forgotten God: Reversing our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit,” that, “It is true that God may have called you to be exactly where you are. But, it is absolutely vital to grasp that he didn’t call you there so you could settle in and live your life in comfort and superficial peace.”
That means this life isn’t going to be easy on us, but we cannot keep away scary things. Whenever I’m nervous about something, just after I’ve overthought the situation in my head and just as I’m starting to freak myself out, I remind myself of two sentences:
Don’t give into fear. Give it up.
It’s hard to let go of our fears and to stop self-treating ourselves. After all, we want to be strong enough and brave enough to conquer our own fears, but God hasn’t called us to overcome trials on our own. He’s asked us to come to him where he can supersede this world with peace.
The book of Joshua gives us a glorious picture of that need. Just before Joshua is going to lead the Israelites into Jericho, they come to the Jordan River. I imagine this not as a bubbling creek but as a thundering river with alligators. I imagine the Israelites worried about swimming or how they were going to get the camels to swim. Do camels swim? What’s in the water? How long will it take?
I imagine fear. God then tells Joshua to send the priests out in front, carrying the Ark of the Covenant. “Follow it,” God says. “Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before.”
The priests step out, the river parts and the Israelites safely pass.
In every change in my life, I’ve never been that way before and I find myself asking why God would want me to do this. The only way I’m going to cross the river is if I follow that covenant, if I hang onto the Lord’s promise that he’s going to take care of me.
I’m suffering. I’m tired. I’ve lost hope. And that’s OK. That’s where we get a way out, a river parted, a wonderful God.
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Texas with her husband. Previously, she worked for the Galveston County Daily News, the Houston Chronicle, the Abilene Reporter-News and the Lufkin Daily News. Currently, she is a team member for HeartSupport, a nonprofit community for young adults. Her website is at http://tx.ag/casanova and you can find her on Twitter @acasanova10.