Facing fear exposes it. All day yesterday, I struggled with anxiety, painfully unlearning the wrong way and relearning the right way to respond to fear. When I got to work, I knew I felt anxious but I kept vaguely thinking about it all day long. I remembered several times to quote a Scripture but fearful thoughts popped up repeatedly, thoughts like “You are never going to be really free of fear, your health is getting worse, your finances . . ..”
As evening approached, I was weary and still thinking about (and thus feeling) the fear. Yuk! All day long, that stinking fear had dived back into the depths of my thoughts, like some oversize fish running around the bottom of an aquarium stirring up all the dirty stuff hidden by gravel. Because I had not clearly identified fear and exposed it, it had grown.
What you focus on grows. Thinking about something grows it, as surely as water grows plants (or weeds!). For most of yesterday, I repeated a mistake made for many months. I actually meditated, or pondered, the fearful, negative thoughts, and they had grown. Yuk again!
Identify the negative then run at it! One technique I learned during group counseling was to be mindful of, or to face, negative feelings, rather than automatically running from them and then doing something to numb the emotion. It is like David running at the giant Goliath. (I Samuel 17:1-54).
For me, as a believer, facing fear means stopping to talk to God about it. So, this morning when I got up and began to feel shaky again, I prayed:
“Dear Father, I confess I am feeling afraid again. Please forgive me if I have done something to cause this fear and show me how to change it. Yet, I know You died so that I might have a blessed, joyful, wonderful life (John 10:10), so I thank You for that, Lord! I praise You that You have made the way to conquer all my problems. Lord Jesus, You said I will have problems in this world but I am to rejoice and be happy because You have overcome the world! (John 16:33) Thank You, Lord, for teaching me how to have right thoughts. Thank You for helping me meditate on Your word. Thank You that I can go to the gym this morning, be friendly, pray silently for everyone I see and know my prayers make a difference. Thank You for enabling me to exercise and keep my earthly tabernacle healthy, thank You, Lord . . . “
Two powerful spiritual weapons: (1) Praise, and (2) giving thanks. God inhabits the praise of His people. Psalm 22:3 tells us that God is “. . . enthroned on the praises of Israel.”(NLT) God is with us when we praise Him. What a privilege! I believe one reason God tells us to praise is that when we talk about how powerful and loving and faithful God is, it reminds our human minds of truths that our all too human flesh tempts us to forget.
And in First Thessalonians 5:16 God tells us to “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” (NLT). When we choose to trust that God has good plans for us even when our circumstances seem hard, it makes a powerful statement in spiritual realms.
Long-standing problems can be overcome. In learning from my mistakes, God is mercifully training, or disciplining, me (Please, please study Hebrews 12:6-13!) He is training me because He loves me and wants to “ . . strengthen and harden me to difficulties” (Isaiah 41:10).
Truly, as the song says, He is a good, good Father!