When Fear Disrupts Your Faith
Earlier this summer, I spent a quick evening in London while traveling back home. Our time was rushed due to delayed flights, but we were able to walk around and sightsee a few things. This Ferris wheel, the London Eye, was on my hubby's top list of things to do. We thought we had missed the opportunity to ride it but walked over to find that it was still operating. In pure excitement that he was able to do something he wanted, I walked right in.
The higher we went, the more my realization of what I was doing set in. Everything seemed fine when I looked straight ahead. But, looking down allowed fear to creep in. Even looking up, only to see how much higher I had to go, was unsettling. I wasn't nearly as afraid as the lady who began sobbing, but the knots in my stomach made me sit a few times to take some deep breaths.
Living a faith-filled life can feel like this, too. We become passionate about living for God when blessings come our way and step right into them. Everything looks good as you stare straight ahead at a clear picture of your surroundings. Things change when you stare down at the negative possible outcomes or look up at what you can't control. You open the door for fear to walk right in.
In the physical world, these mechanical rides are, in fact, safe. The few accidents that do occur allow us to wonder when the next mishap will happen without any control of it.
But in the spiritual world, God is always in control. Even if we get unsettling feelings in the midst of living a blessed life...even when we feel afraid or anxious...He is ALWAYS in control.
I think of the blessing of being a mother: how wonderful it feels to find out your pregnant and how unsettling it is to imagine every negative possibility. Learning to swaddle God's little blessing can quickly become a season of doubting you were ever made to be a mom. But God knows exactly what he's doing. ALWAYS. Even when we don't understand it or know all of the details.
Fear will try to steal the unchanging truth of who God is. Anxiety and worry will rob your mind and heart of His presence.
Sit down and breathe.
Be still and know.
Read Psalms and the many examples of David, who felt afraid while he was given blessing after blessing from God and yet, time after time, felt alone and afraid. It's in these moments that he reminds himself of who God is. He chooses to rely on the truth of God and his promises.
I know there are plenty of people who can hop on this ride without a trace of nervousness. And honestly, it kept me from sharing this thought for the past few days. But God reminded me that no one is exempt from the feelings of fear. Fear, worry, anxiety...are all human emotions that we will come to fight at some point, in large or small measures. My example may not be your particular phobia, but you know what your "London Eye" moment is. (I don't even consider myself to have a fear of heights, but in this case, I did!)
This past week, my five-year-old son rode the biggest rollercoaster he has ever been on. It wasn't that big of a rollercoaster because of his height, but it was big for him. My sister took him to a theme park he had never been to and in the excitement of getting to ride "big kid rides," he got on. Afterwards, he said he didn't want to get back on. I asked him if he would ride it again and he said, "Oh no. It was too big and too scary."
Right now it is. Right now, it is big and scary for an almost 3.5-foot human being, but one day, he'll grow in size, and that ride won't seem so scary anymore.
The same goes for our faith.
Sometimes, trusting in God's promises does seem like a big and scary task. But after you've seen him provide and protect and heal and move mountains, time and time again, your faith grows in size. And trusting him in certain areas of our life doesn't seem so hard anymore.
”The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” -Psalm 18:2