When Fear Strikes Your Heart
Lucinda Secrest McDowell
If you’re not afraid right now, then just check the news. Plenty of horrific happenings this summer while tempers are hot, triggers are happy, and trust is in short supply.
- Refuse to keep up with the news, hoping it will go away?
- Cringe every time one a loved one uses an international airport?
- Keep your kids inside for the rest of their lives? OR
- Seek the Lord? “I sought the Lord and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34.4
Friend, I refuse to live in fear! Because every time we give in to fear, Satan wins. “Fear is your enemy’s best weapon. He uses it skillfully and often to great effect. Fear and its offshoots—worry and anxiety—are like a wildfire, encroaching on every area of your life and leaving destruction in its wake. Fear eats its way into your emotions, robbing you of the peace and rest God intends for you. Fear burrows into your relationships and colors your interactions with those you love. Fear robs your body of its vigor, and occupies your thoughts, and monopolizes your attention. Fear hijacks your life.” (Jennifer Kennedy Dean)
The antidote? Well, there are at least 365 verses in the Bible saying some version of “Do not fear.” That would be a great start – claiming God’s peace, presence and power through His Word. Sometimes it helps to do it whilst singing hymns loudly:
Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
By the living Word of God I shall prevail,
Standing on the promises of God. (Kelso Carter 1886)
I have also discovered that taking time for solitude and stillness quiets my mind and heart as well as calming my body. As I pray and focus on who God is (and all those verses) I remember that He is in control. Poet Wendell Berry puts it this way:
When despair grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
– Wendell Berry
I was thinking recently of two of my friends, Carole and Jennifer, who actually lived through their worst fears happening. And you know what? They survived. Jennifer shares from that experience: “The key to living without fear is not in believing that nothing fearful will happen, but that nothing will happen apart from God’s intervening grace. Nothing will happen without the hand of God in control, filtering out what will destroy, softening the full force of the blow, and bringing a result that could not be accomplished any other way.” (Jennifer Kennedy Dean “Live a Praying Life Without Fear” October 2016)
When fear strikes (and it will) we must seek the Lord for deliverance. Here is a prayer I often use:
“Most loving Father, whose will it is for us to give thanks for all things, to fear nothing but the loss of You, and to cast all our care on You who cares for us: Preserve me from faithless fears and worldly anxieties, that no clouds of this mortal life may hide from me the light of that love which is immortal which You have manifested to us in Your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” (Divine Hours)
©2016 Lucinda Secrest McDowell
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