I'm Really Afraid!
"The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them." Psalm 34:7 (NIV)
Last year one of my back teeth started hurting. Again. And quite honestly, I just didn't want to deal with it. That tooth had been a complete pain. Literally. I'd had not one, not two, but three crowns done on the same tooth. The first one broke. The second one broke. And though the third one seemed like it would finally work, the tooth started aching again. Ugh!
The dentist informed me the only thing to do was to have a root canal. I'm okay with the word "root." And I'm okay with the word "canal." But when he put those two words together, a wild fear whipped its tentacles around my heart and squeezed the life out of me. I couldn't do it. I just couldn't bring myself to schedule the appointment. So I dealt with the throbbing pain.
For a year I didn't chew on that side of my mouth. I didn't let cold drinks leak over to that side. And I took ibuprofen when the throbbing got the best of me. A year!
Finally I'd had enough. The pain overrode the fear and I made an appointment for the dreaded root canal. And you know what? I survived! Not only did I survive but I honestly found the whole root canal ordeal to be no big deal. The fear of it was so much worse than actually having the procedure done.
I think fear often plays out that way. Many times living in fear of what might be causes more stress and anxiety than actually facing what we fear. Is there something you're avoiding because you're afraid?
Psalm 34:7 reminds me, "The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them." To fear the Lord means to honor Him and magnify Him in my heart most of all. When I focus on or magnify my fears, they become all I can think about. So instead I've learned to focus on God by doing three things:
- I cry out to Him with honest prayers. I verbalize to God what I'm afraid of and how paralyzing my fear is. I ask Him to help me see each next step I need to take.
- I open my Bible and look for verses that show me what He wants me to do in that moment of fear. I write down truths from the Bible about fear and then align my next actions with His truth. (For a list of verses to use, see the link in the recommended resources section below.)
- Then I walk in the assurance that I am fearing (or honoring) the Lord as Psalm 34:7 tells me to, therefore I know with certainty an angel of the Lord is encamped around me and God will deliver me.
I like this promise so much. It comforts me. It reassures me. And it challenges me to really live like I know it is true.
What's a fear you can face today? Think of an everyday fear holding you back. Is there a fear of confronting an issue with a friend? Is there a fear of stepping out in obedience to something God is calling you to do? Is there a fear of a medical diagnosis you just received? Fear of a root canal?
Oh if I were there I would totally hold your hand. Better yet, God is with you. And when you know He is with you, and His angels are encamped around you, you can face your fears.
Dear Lord, help me to only fear You with reverence and obedience. If a feeling of fear is a legitimate warning from You, help me to know that. But if this feeling of fear is more of a distracting detriment, help me be courageous and walk assured in Your presence. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond:
Is there something you've been avoiding because you're afraid?
When you feel fear, focus on God by crying out to Him in prayer. Align your next actions with His truth. Then you can pray with the reassurance of the Lord's presence. And when you know He is with you, you can face your fears.
Psalm 139:7-12, "Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, 'Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,' even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you." (NIV)