do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
I will help you.
When Fear Overcomes Me
June 14, 2017
|June 14, 2017
When Fear Overcomes Me
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?” Romans 8:35 (ESV)
The alarm clock glows green in the darkness. It seems stuck on 3 o’clock. Sleep eludes me, although I feel shattered with exhaustion.
I started a new project and it’s weighing heavy on me because I know I am fallible. I may leave gaps, forget important details, make mistakes and hurt others in the process. It’s quite possible that I will fall short of other people’s expectations. I may prove insufficient or just plain bad.
In an odd way, this scenario reminds me of soldiers of old.
Ancient Roman soldiers sometimes used a short sword they called the makhaira for eliminating their enemies. Because of its compact length, the soldier had to draw very near to his victim, almost like an intimate embrace, as he delivered the final strike. In that moment, all the victim could see was the face of his assassin. He forgot the world, he forgot hope and lost his fragile grasp on any remnant of a fight lingering in his heart. He saw only that hard, unflinching face bent on his destruction.
It is this particular word for “sword” that the apostle Paul uses when he asks the questions found in our key verse: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?” The makhaira?
Clearly, I have never been a Roman soldier. But I think I know what it’s like to have a makhaira pointed at my jugular. Its name is Fear.
Like that short Roman sword, when fear comes, it is as if the world disappears so I can only taste and smell and see one thing: The ugly face of fear.
In my mind, Jesus fades, and fear becomes a giant.
Perhaps one of the greatest areas of fear is our work. The work of our hands has so many complex, emotional threads connected to it. We long to be useful. To make a difference. To meet expectations. Add to that the reality that in our world, one’s stability is often attached to work.
We can’t pay the rent unless we get paid. Whether you’re a mother, doctor, loan officer, teacher, receptionist or work in any other field, we all face a multitude of pressures regarding our work. There are layers of fear running through our jobs, layers that, to some degree, remain beyond our control.
The prophet Isaiah said, “You shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear” (Isaiah 54:14b, ESV). In other words, fear causes oppression.
In all its iterations: anxiety, worry, agitation, trepidation, panic, fear of failure, of rejection, of letting people down, of abandonment, of not measuring up, of being sick, of ending up alone, of the calamity that might visit our loved ones, financial fears, fear of death — every manner of fear is a chain that binds. Oppresses. And one day, Isaiah says, that oppressive fear shall cease. It shall cease because the Messiah will overcome it.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall fear? Certainly not.
And yet there are days when I see the face of fear more clearly than I do the face of my precious Savior.
On those days, I try hard to hold on to Jesus’ words on the cross: “It is finished” (John 19:30b, ESV). He meant, of course, that His work was accomplished.
So therefore, all the work my soul needs — its redemption and restoration and forgiveness, its renewal and re-creation and salvation — all this is finished. The most important work in the world has been completed.
But I sometimes fancy that the completed work of the cross casts its shadow on other parts of my life, too. Because Christ has finished the most crucial work on earth, something of that completion covers all the unfinished parts of my life.
Even small tasks find their rest in Jesus. They shrink to the right size. The lips that ordained my work spoke the words, “It is finished.” My work will finish and be completed according to the will of the One who called me to do it. It will be fulfilled through His strength and counsel.
As I learn to hear God’s voice more clearly than the voice of fear, I become more like Him. Something in me shifts. Grows.
This is the irony of our present lives: In the process of the wounding, bloody battle with fear, we become more whole.
Because in that process, we learn to trust our God.
Dear Jesus, thank You that You have broken the oppression of fear over my life. Please remove from my heart the fear of failure, of rejection, of financial insufficiency, of being somehow not enough. Help me remember I can rest in Your finished work. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Get Moving! (1)
In the matter of determination. The Spirit of Jesus is put into me by way of the atonement by the Cross of Christ. I then have to build my thinking patiently to bring it into perfect harmony with my Lord. God will not make me think like Jesus— I have to do it myself. I have to bring “every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). “Abide in Me”— in intellectual matters, in money matters, in every one of the matters that make human life what it is. Our lives are not made up of only one neatly confined area.
Am I preventing God from doing things in my circumstances by saying that it will only serve to hinder my fellowship with Him? How irrelevant and disrespectful that is! It does not matter what my circumstances are. I can be as much assured of abiding in Jesus in any one of them as I am in any prayer meeting. It is unnecessary to change and arrange my circumstances myself. Our Lord’s inner abiding was pure and unblemished. He was at home with God wherever His body was. He never chose His own circumstances, but was meek, submitting to His Father’s plans and directions for Him. Just think of how amazingly relaxed our Lord’s life was! But we tend to keep God at a fever pitch in our lives. We have none of the serenity of the life which is “hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3).
Think of the things that take you out of the position of abiding in Christ. You say, “Yes, Lord, just a minute— I still have this to do. Yes, I will abide as soon as this is finished, or as soon as this week is over. It will be all right, Lord. I will abide then.” Get moving— begin to abide now. In the initial stages it will be a continual effort to abide, but as you continue, it will become so much a part of your life that you will abide in Him without any conscious effort. Make the determination to abide in Jesus wherever you are now or wherever you may be placed in the future.
From: Our Daily Journey
Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman’s father said jokingly to his daughter, “I’m more famous than you are.” His comment was based on the media’s coverage of him and his wife Lynn’s nervous reactions as they observed Aly’s Olympic routines. Their emotions on display became an engaging sideshow. The couple swayed and rocked as they anticipated Aly’s complex flips and twists. Lynn reached over and clenched Rick’s arm and fearfully peered out from between her fingers. There’s nothing quite like the anxiety of a loving parent!
Mary and Joseph also experienced fear and concern when Jesus disappeared as they were heading home from a festival in Jerusalem. After checking with friends and relatives, three days later they found Him in the temple dialoguing with religious teachers (Luke 2:46-47). Mary questioned Him: “Why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been frantic, searching for you everywhere” (Luke 2:48). Jesus responded, “But why did you need to search? . . . Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49). Given Jesus’ divine nature, it wasn’t wrong for Him to pursue His purpose—even at a young age. But in doing so, He asserted His independence from His parents.
Like Mary and Joseph, we may feel anxiety when our children or other kids we know and love begin to mature and exhibit independence. Our control lessens, and their control over their own lives increases. While some concern is normal, unless we believe that God is aware of the challenges our children will encounter, we may have difficulty letting them go. But if we release them into God’s care when the time is right, they’ll have the chance (like Jesus did) to grow “in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all people” (Luke 2:52).