Fear is a force that seeks to suck us under its waves and draw us to the depths of despair or trap us in a whirlpool of never being enough.
David certainly identified with fear in Psalm 55:4-5, 7:
“My heart is in anguish within me, And the terrors of death have fallen upon me. Fear and trembling come upon me, And horror has overwhelmed me... I would hasten to my place of refuge From the stormy wind and tempest."
Fear can take many faces and be the driving force behind good as well as evil. The problem is when fear is the driving force, there is no peace or joy. As children of God, we are created to live out peace and joy. Oftentimes, we are so caught up in the storm of fear that it becomes our norm and we don’t see life as it really is.
Fear was once my closest friend. As a young adult, I had the realization that most of what I had accomplished throughout life had been done out of fear. Over and over, I had bowed to fear as the god of my life. Even the good that I had accomplished had been done because of fear: fear of rejection, fear of abandonment, fear of not being enough or being too much, fear of judgment, fear of pain... the list goes on and on. I was caught in a tumultuous sea of fear; it had become my norm and I didn’t know how to escape.
Fortunately the Word of God gives us multiple examples showing us the way out of fear. As we familiarize ourselves with the God of the storm--the God over fear--He gently leads us out of fear and into faith. When a sea of fear is raging around us, He shows us the way out.
Take refuge in the ark.
“For forty days the flood kept coming on the earth, and as the waters increased they lifted the ark high above the earth. The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. They rose greatly on the earth, and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered.” (Genesis 7:17-19)
Noah’s ark was a vessel of salvation. Noah and his family had to enter into the ark by the one door and while the storms raged and mankind ceased to be, God kept Noah and his family safe. There was only one way to enter the ark, and there is only one way to our ultimate safety--through Jesus Christ. Like Noah, we can run to our ark, Jesus, when the storms of fear seek to devour us and find safe refuge and all we need.
“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous runs into it and is safe.” (Proverbs 18:10)
Speak to the storm.
“A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’ He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?’ They were terrified and asked each other, ‘Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!’” (Mark 4:37-41)
In this passage, Jesus has just come away from a full day of teaching and training.
Oftentimes after I have spent a day of powerful teaching and equipping, the enemy rages around me telling me things like “you failed, you missed the mark, you didn’t represent Jesus well.” Fears start to swell up in my mind and overflow into my heart. Like the disciples, I can easily focus on the waves. However, I have learned the benefit of looking at Christ who was completely at rest. In fact, “He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow.”
Jesus was resting in the boat while the disciples were trembling in fear. He rose up at their request and calmed the storm by speaking to the wind and the waves: “Peace, be still.” He spoke peace and peace came, not only to the wind and the waves, but also to the people in the boat.
When we let the Prince of Peace arise in us and speak to the storm, things calm down.
“The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” (Romans 16:20)
Get out of the boat.
“Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. ‘It’s a ghost,’ they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’ ‘Lord, if it’s you,’ Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to you on the water.’ ‘Come,’ he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ he said, ‘why did you doubt?’ And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’” (Matthew 14:25-33)
Here we have a great picture of the disciples once again cowering in fear. In this story, the disciples aren’t necessarily fearful of the storm, but in fact are battling against the storm. Fear rises up when Jesus shows Himself in a way they had never seen before.
So many times in life we may face a storm, even a familiar storm, but Jesus wants to come and show us a new way to overcome. Battling against the waves of fear is not doing the trick and Jesus wants us to walk over the waves of fear. Fear arose when the disciples saw Jesus walking on the water. Maybe they didn’t want to have their paradigm of a “nice, safe Jesus” confronted.
As disciples, we are called to do what we see our Teacher doing and if He walks on water, we need to develop the courage to do so also. But the disciples became afraid and cowered in the boat. Jesus reminds us “it is I… do not be afraid.” So we, like Peter, can get out of the boat and walk on the water with Jesus, but we must keep our eyes on Him lest we sink. The good news is, if we find ourselves sinking under the waves of fear, all we need to do is reach out and He will take us by the hand and lift us up over the waves of fear.
Jesus is the way out of fear. Whether we run into His name and find safety, speak to the raging sea of fear, or walk on the waves of fear, He is showing us, leading us, and guiding us on how to overcome. We must keep our eyes fixed on Him, the Overcomer--our Overcomer.
Misty Honnold is the Founder and Director of the non-profit organization The Single MOM KC. Misty equips, trains and empowers women to discover the source of their strength in Christ. She publishes a weekly blog on the website The Single MOM KC as well as freelances for other publications.
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