Encouragement for Today
“The Stronghold of Fear”
Lysa TerKeurst, President of Proverbs 31 Ministries
Isaiah 41:13, “For I am the LORD your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” (NIV)
I can almost hear Satan’s horrific laugh as he taunts us and dances about. What twisted happiness it brings to his evil heart when one of God’s children trembles with fear over something. For he knows that for us to fear is a sign that he has a foothold in our lives. It’s like a crevice dividing each heart, a canyon where the waters of worry and anxiety flow. Sometimes these waters trickle along like a meandering creek, but at other times, they rage like floodwaters through us. Many of us are consumed with these flooding worries to the point of worrying about things that will likely never happen.
I don’t know what your fears are, but I can tell you that my number one fear is losing one of my children. Rarely do I turn on the news without hearing of a child being killed in a car accident, a child missing, or a child eating something tainted in a restaurant and getting ill and dying. I recently received a letter from a friend telling us that their youngest child had just been diagnosed with a fatal form of leukemia and that the doctors have given them little hope. In each of these cases, the parents’ ability to control their children’s safety and well-being have been taken away . . . and it’s frightening.
Fear can be defined as the active feeling of losing control . . . CONTROL. Think about your own fears. In each case, isn’t it that you are afraid of losing control of something you hold dear? Perhaps you fear losing control of your home, your finances, your health, or even normal brain function.
Satan’s greatest delight is to deceive us into thinking that we are, in fact, actually in control. Remember, Satan was thrown from heaven because he wanted to be in control, call the shots, make things happen, and overrule God. Since he knows he’s not in control, it brings him great delight to trick us into thinking we are.
But the reality of fear is that it eventually binds us in a negative way and even negatively affects our behavior, attitudes, and emotions. Let’s look at some of the ways these negative behaviors are destructive to us and those around us:
- We fear trying new things; really living out life’s great adventures.
- We stifle our children’s independence.
- We waste time: worrying reduces your efficiency and effectiveness.
- We waste energy: feeling overly anxious drains you.
If we look at Scripture, the Bible commands us to fear only one thing: God. Psalm 19:9 comfortingly says, “The fear of the LORD is pure.” Proverbs 9:10 also tells us “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” “How can this be?” you ask. Because it proves we put our trust in nothing but God. We shift our useless attempts at absolute control over everything in our lives to residing peacefully in God’s control. Jesus knew that we would struggle with control, fear, and worry so He commanded us to avoid it:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.” Matthew 6:25
Certainly, we are to prayerfully plan for tomorrow, but not worry or fear it. Linda Dillow writes, “It’s easy to deceive ourselves into thinking, I’m just concerned, and gloss over the reality that worry is sin. Worry says, ‘I don’t trust God, I don’t believe in His ability to handle my child, my marriage, my health, my job, or my loneliness.’” Dr. Archibald Hart tells us, “Anxiety is now the number one emotional problem of our day.”
To grasp God’s peace and to see it stop the flood of worry and anxiety and fill in the canyon of fear in our hearts, we must trust everything dear to us to the God whose love for us is perfect. God has conquered Satan. God has conquered any evil that might come our way. God has even conquered death. It’s all under His control. So how do we transfer this head knowledge into putting our hearts and minds at peace? Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.” This is peace’s sweet reply.
My Prayer for Today:
Lord, today I pray that you would quiet my mind and the anxiety and fears that perplex me. I consciously choose to release the situation into Your control, and give up mine . . . because I acknowledge that I ultimately have none. Thank You for conquering our enemy, Satan, and for Your promise of peace if I will trust You wholeheartedly.
- Make a list of some of your own fears.
- By each one, record who you know is in control over each of them. (answer: God)
- Write down what is the worst that can happen if this fear were to come true.
- Will any amount of fear, worry, or anxiety prevent these things from happening?
- Are you at peace with the fact that God is in control and that He works everything for the good of those who love Him?
Job 3:25-26 says, “What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me. I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil.” Job’s first reaction is similar to what we would feel. Everything Job has ever feared – losing his children, his wealth, and eventually his health – has come about. His life is in turmoil, and he aches to the depth of his soul. His pain is so overwhelming that he can’t even escape it through sleep. Can you relate to what he’s feeling?
Somehow, through it all, Job holds fast to the Lord and, in Job 42:3 says, “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.” And in verse 5: “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” Have you experienced deep anguish that allowed you to experience God in the same way as Job described?
Psalm 128:1, “Blessed are all who fear the Lord.” (NIV)
John 4:18, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.” (NIV)
Matthew 6:26-27, “Look at the birds in the air. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, but your heavenly Father feeds them. And you know that you are worth much more than the birds. You cannot add any time to your life by worrying about it.” (NCV)
Who Holds the Key to Your Heart, by Lysa TerKeurst
Dreams of a Woman, by Sharon Jaynes
Originally published Monday, 18 April 2005.