Updated: May 15, 2020
"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." ~ Philippians 4:6 (NKJV)
I tend to be a glass half full, speak life sort of gal, so talking about fear isn't my first choice.
However, with our world the way it is, I don't think this is a conversation we can or should avoid.
People are afraid, and with good reason. The dangers out there are real, and it's not something you can fight with sword and shield.
Setting aside for the moment the conversation of a spiritual battlefield, let's talk practicality in the world. Yes, wash your hands. Hydrate! Nourish yourself with good foods. Get fresh air. Soak up some vitamin D. Move your body, get some exercise. We all know what to do, we just need to do it. That's nuts and bolts practicality.
Psychologists have all kinds of theories and techniques when it comes to fear and anxiety.
By the way, if you don't know this about me yet, I happen to believe science and faith have a fundamentally beautiful relationship. A lot of science is theory, and so often we hear scientists saying, oops, we were wrong about that... there's a lesson there, too. All of that to say, I believe what scientists, doctors, psychologists, and their ilk are doing is delving into the wonders of God, whether they realize it or not.
Back to what psychologists have to say about fear.
Let's be clear... I am not one, I don't even play one on TV, but what I remember from my Psych 101 class is, fear is a base human response (primitive and powerful) that has both a biochemical and an emotional response.
Having it is healthy, it's God's built-in alarm system. Some of it is instinctive and beyond our control, some is instilled/learned/taught. Some of the fear response we cannot do anything about, it's human nature... the way we were created. Some we can. I truly believe the whole of the experience can be managed and even leveraged.
(Clearly, we're talking about chemically healthy and balanced bodies and brains. I am not trying to tell you not to see a clinician. If you need to, please do!) As they say, acceptance is the first step to recovery/healing/change. Acknowledging our experience has power.
Repeated exposure can help... if you're skydiving. It's probably not an answer in this particular case.
Self-help websites galore tell us we can set schedules and routines, go to our happy place or create for ourselves a sanctuary in the world. We can be gentle and understanding with ourselves and our human nature, reach out for others, think positively, count our blessings, channel our creative and productive natures, and focus on remembering who we are.
Interesting how a few of those pop out as rather familiar isn't it?
So, as believers, what do we do?
"When I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid..." ~ Psalm 56:3-4 (CSB)
Repeatedly throughout the scriptures, we hear the command to fear not, be not afraid, etc...
The best battle plan for that is, in fact, to have a plan.
What if we start by remembering whose we are?
"The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life." ~ Job 33:4 (BSB)
Proponents of a healthy gratitude practice seem to often tout it as the latest greatest thing. King David, amongst others, might have something to say about that. Greatest? Right up there. Latest? Perhaps not so much.
"Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever!" ~ Psalm 118:1 (NKJV)
"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (ESV)
What if we check our thoughts?
"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." ~ 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)
"Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things." ~ Philippians 4:8 (NKJV)
I feel like this may have gotten a little long winded and a little heavy handed so I'm going to get off of my soapbox now... but, on the other hand, maybe it needed to be?
Those of you who know your scriptures know, I could go on and on and on digging up ways to confront, assuage, and take captive fear and the experience tied to it.
We know the source of fear, and it's not the Man upstairs.
The Father does, however, give us a very thorough instruction manual for how to handle it. Dig in! Steep in scripture. Connect to the God of Love and Joy and Peace and Strength. There, you'll find tranquility, I bet you dollars to donuts! (What does that even mean?)
It's been rumored that some version of "Fear not" appears 365 times in the Bible, one for each day. Now, I haven't done the research to verify that, but what if you decided to take that on in one form or another. Hearing, seeing, reading, and internalizing that message over and over might just be an excellent balm to the soul in moments of need.
I pray you find the Peace that passes all understanding. I pray you invite it in and allow it to take up residence in your heart today and forever. This I pray for us all. Amen.
May the Good Lord bless you and keep you, friends... always, in all ways. Amen.
Bonus song of praise. ♥