“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear:” I John 4:18
Before my husband went to Heaven six years and three months ago, I longed for there to be nothing between him and me. Now that I’m a widow, I’ve discovered some new goals for the relationships he left me with. I want nothing to stand between the Lord and me. I find myself constantly striving to “keep the way clear.”
In a marriage relationship, however, sometimes the problem doesn’t lie only with one partner. Sometimes both husband and wife cause divisions, and spaces between the two of them. Once I became a widow, I realized that concerning my relationship with others, most of the time I was to blame for conflicts between myself and others.
Not so with the Lord: if there’s ever anything hindering our closeness, it lies 100% on my side. That’s what my life is all about: being aware of things that hinder that closeness that I desire with the Lord, and finding out how to remove them.
When I prepare my lessons, I always try to analyze my life, and find out why I’m not perfectly content and happy. Usually at the root of all my anxieties lies that little enemy called fear.
I tried to list all the things that have made me fearful these past few weeks, and I came up with this. I have feared:
1. Not being able to complete deadlines
2. Not being able to e-mail
3. A serious illness in the spouse of one of my children.
4. Everything involved with the birth of my grandson.
5. Driving in the dark during a tornado.
6. My children having to travel on through a snow storm.
7. My having to drive through the aftermath of a snow storm.
8. The miscarriage of my daughter.
9. My children’s travels near the Mexican-American borders, and in other war-torn parts of the world.
10. Having to drive through a dark neighborhood to an empty house.
And that’s not even half of the list.
I’ve come up with this discovery: Fear leads to worry. Worry leads to doubt. Doubt leads to indecision. Indecision leads to confusion. Confusion leads to insecurity. Insecurity leads to complaining. Complaining affects others, and harms my influence and testimony. But most of all, it shows my lack of confidence in the Lord, and therefore harms our relationship.
Every mother has experienced fears involving her child. Fear even before his birth, that something could go wrong during delivery; fear that he may not be responding to certain stimuli; fear he isn’t gaining weight; fear he’s overweight; fear he won’t pass his finals; fear of choosing the wrong spouse…and on and on it goes.
I may not have the perfect solution for your fears, but I believe with the help of the Bible, we can lay down a few principles.
1. Tell it to Jesus. When you’re afraid, talk with the Lord, and tell Him openly how you feel. I don’t have a husband to talk to, and because of that I find myself talking to the Lord. I tell Him all my negative feelings. I tell Him when I’m sad and lonely. I tell Him when I’m upset. I tell Him when I’m confused. And I tell Him my fears and my anxieties.
2. Cast your care on Him. Unless you give Him those fears, and those anxieties, no amount of talking with Him will help. I don’t seem to have much trouble talking with the Lord. But “casting” is a lot harder than “talking.” “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” I Peter 5:7
3. Keep a happy heart. There’s a verse I read this morning in Proverbs 15:13: “A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance:” and then in chapter 17:22: “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.” You may not be able to change the circumstances that cause your fears, but did you know you can keep a happy heart? I remember many years ago, my father was in Houston undergoing the agony of chemotherapy. I know he was suffering, and sick. But I rarely walked into his room that he wasn’t laughing, and making those around him laugh. I treasure many hilarious stories that mother told me of things he did when I wasn’t there. And I often wondered how many people ever laughed on that particular floor of the hospital. I’m convinced that his “merry heart” kept him around longer than he was expected to live. And I never once remember his being afraid. Did you know it’s hard to be afraid, and have happy thoughts at the same time? If you will keep a positive attitude, it will help you to overcome your fears. Several years ago, I flew to Ukraine. During my visit there, I made a trip to another country with my son, David. We had to stay in a hotel in Istanbul on our way over. As we drove through the dark streets around midnight, fear gripped my heart. I tried turning my thoughts to the happy special time I would have with my son once we reached our destination, and that was such a soothing feeling. And although we were in dangerous places during that time, which bring fear to my heart, even as I write, I will treasure forever the memories mother and son made together which will provide a lifetime of happiness for me.
4. Keep a sound mind. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” II Timothy 1:7 That verse alone should bring us the assurance that the devil brings fear. When we fear, we don’t think straight, and we tend to make wrong decisions. God’s ways always bring peace, and clarity of thoughts.
5. Fear is a fact of life. That’s why the Psalmist wrote, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” (Psalm 56:3) You’re not the only one who has ever been afraid. When David wrote these words, he had either once been afraid, or he knew he would one day be afraid of something.
6. Fear is fine…sometimes. If I’m afraid of having a heart attach, I’ll lose weight. If I’m afraid of contracting cancer, I’ll have my yearly checkups, and watch my diet. If I’m afraid of losing my child to drugs, I’ll train him up right, and surround him with positive influences. If I’m afraid of divorce, I’ll keep my thoughts and my heart clean and pure. If I were afraid of going to hell, I’d accept Jesus as my Savior.
But I already have, and no matter what rational fears I may have, no matter what awaits me in this life that now causes me to fear, I know that someday I’m going to Heaven.
So maybe some of the things I fear will one day come to pass. But the comforting thought that “none of these things” can move me, is the one thing that brings me peace and joy, and calms my fears.