Fear is a nasty enemy.
Fear can keep someone from doing something really brave. It can also keep someone from doing something really stupid. Sometimes it is a friend (e.g. common sense) or sometimes it can be vicious cat.
Those of us who live with the vicious cat every day live with scratches and scars. But it’s not the kind of cat you just chase away with a large, heavy object. It’s the kind that fools you into thinking it is cuddly and cute until it turns on you, making you afraid of anything good.
I think most of us live with some type of fear, just in different shapes and forms. Some people fear heights. Some people fear spiders (justifiably). Some people fear clowns.
Most of us also have some sort of fear of man embedded into our souls that we are born with. It’s a strong lens that we see the world through and operate under. It helps us know what is appropriate and what is not. Some people’s fear of man seems almost nonexistent, but that’s not always a good thing.
For some of us, that fear of man is the vicious and deceptive cat (or if you don’t like cats, pick another animal for this metaphor).
So, what is like to live with this kind of fear? Some days it’s utterly crippling. Some days you don’t even know it’s there. It pops up in the most unexpected ways and often without any kind of warning. Some days you sense it infused into every action, interaction, thought, and emotion. It keeps you back from fully giving yourself to God and to others. It keeps you from taking risks, being uncomfortable, loving without reserve, talking, giving, praying.
It lies. The vicious cat tells you “good” things like, “You don’t deserve pain but the comfortable life,” or “That’s not worth it so save your energy,” or “You would be happier not to do that but by doing this.”
It also tells you the bad: “You’re not strong enough, good enough, worthy enough,” or “Why even try when you know you will fail,” or “You’re terrible at all of those things…people will think you’re an idiot for trying,” or “You will be rejected, give up all hope,” or “See? I told you weren’t worthy enough to love. You never will be,” or “You will always be alone.”
But the fearer hears the lies. The fearer hears them and oftentimes believes them. In contradiction, we know they aren’t true, but we believe them anyway.
It is a fierce battle, endlessly raging in the dark corners of our minds and hearts. We’re wrestling with the lies and the truth, afraid of who will win. If the lies win, we are destroyed. If the truth wins, we have to face the fear which we know is a strong enemy.
Fear has a way of using its claws to dig deep and hang on for dear life. It uses circumstances that have left us hurting as evidence of its “truth.” It says, “See what happened in the past? It will happen again.” It takes trauma and trials and failed relationships into its corner, making it loom larger than life.
Fear digs deeper and embeds lies about God. It screams “God is not good,” and “God is not in control,” or even worse, “He cannot be both, so choose one.”
How can one fight against what was once a vicious cat and now is hideous leviathan?
Is it even possible to fully overcome the monster and the shadow that will never leave?
No. It’s not. I can’t overcome it. I thought at one point I had, but it was just another deceptive measure of the cat. It would lie dormant until I least expected, and that is the worst kind.
Fear will never leave me. It is my weakness. It is my thorn in the flesh. Fear is the lifelong enemy many of us will face.
But it doesn’t have to stop there.
“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
Where there is fear, there can also be courage.
Though fear be my weakness, there is a Lion greater than the cat. The choice to believe the truth about God even in the face of doubt and fear is courage.
When I am afraid,
I put my trust in You.
Where there is fear, there is trust.
God knows this fear we face. He knows our hearts better than we do. He knows we will struggle with it. I can trust His heart to be patient with me when the fear strikes.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Where there is fear, there is rest.
God doesn’t leave us without His grace and His rest.
Where there is fear, there is God.
We may live with this fear our whole lives, but never does fear negate the grace, love, rest, and courage of God. Fear never negates the power of God.
God has called us to do risky things. He’s called us to love unconditionally, serve greatly, give generously, pray boldly…all even in the face of tremendous fear. And since I know I will always face this weakness of fear, I know whenever courage comes, it comes from God.
Fear is a fierce enemy I will with battle daily. Fear is a liar that speaks lies disguised as truth.
But God is a Lion. In Him I can rest.