Lion at the Sedgwick County Zoo - Wichita, KS

Fear doesn’t always roar

Fear is our default. Do you ever think about that? People don’t have to learn how to be afraid. Granted, I think some of it can be taught, and others learn it better in some instances. But generally speaking, we are all born with fear inside us. It’s part of being human, and it’s diametrically opposed to the kind of life God wants us to live.

But fear doesn’t always roar. Most of the time it’s a lot quieter, like a whisper that you can’t stop listening to no matter how much you try.

I struggle with fear. Most people don’t believe me when I tell them that because I come off as a very strong, independent person. And I am. But just because someone is strong and independent doesn’t make them brave. Sometimes it just means they’re compensating.

Fear is a sneaky little problem that can creep into every area of our lives without us even knowing it’s there. For instance, I’m not afraid to die. I’m not afraid to be uncomfortable. I’m not afraid to be rejected or abandoned or emotionally hurt. And maybe it’s because I’ve experienced all those things and have seen how God has worked through them in my life, so I know without a doubt that He can use them.

But I am afraid of success. I am afraid that people will expect more from me than I am capable of giving. I am afraid that I won’t live up to my potential. I am afraid that I will disappoint the people I care about and the people who look up to me as some kind of leader.

Maybe it’s a quiet fear, but it’s still fear. And any kind of fear — when it’s fear of the world or fear of our circumstances — cripples us.  It prevents us from living the kind of life God has planned for us. It keeps us from doing the things He’s designed us to do.

God wants to use us. He’s got awesome plans for us, and He wants to work in our lives in miraculous ways. But if we give in to our fear, we aren’t going to seize the opportunities He sends our way. And if we aren’t willing to walk through the doors He opens for us, He can only take us so far.

More than anything, God wants to bless us. But we have to let Him. And we can’t let fear be our guiding light because if we do, we’ll end up wandering around in the dark.

But it’s one thing to tell yourself not to be afraid. It’s something else to actually achieve it. And there are so many ways to combat fear, but what works for me is reading the Psalms. I’ve really been trying to deal with some of my fear issues for a few months, and whenever I think about not being afraid Psalm 46 always comes to mind.

If you ever struggle with fear, tuck this one away somewhere where you can find it when you need it.

Lion at the Sedgwick County Zoo - Wichita, KS

Lion at the Sedgwick County Zoo – Wichita, KS

Psalm 46

God is our refuge and strength,
always ready to help in times of trouble.
So we will not fear when earthquakes come
and the mountains crumble into the sea.
Let the oceans roar and foam.
Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge!

A river brings joy to the city of our God,
the sacred home of the Most High.
God dwells in that city; it cannot be destroyed.
From the very break of day, God will protect it.

The nations are in chaos,
and their kingdoms crumble!
God’s voice thunders,
and the earth melts!

The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us;
the God of Israel is our fortress.

Come, see the glorious works of the Lord:
See how he brings destruction upon the world.
He causes wars to end throughout the earth.
He breaks the bow and snaps the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.

Be still, and know that I am God!
I will be honored by every nation.
I will be honored throughout the world.”

The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us;
the God of Israel is our fortress.

Path through the wheat - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

God will give us more than we can handle alone.

Sometimes I feel like God trusts me too much. I don’t think He understands how fragile I am some days, and those seem to be the days when He gives me more emotional trauma than I can handle. And I get frustrated with Him. Because if He really knew how much I was going through, wouldn’t He take it easy on me?

Path through the wheat - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Path through the wheat - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is 1 Corinthians 10:12-13.

If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

This is one of the most misquoted verses in the Bible. For starters, people usually miss the parts of this verse that really matter. I’m not sure if it’s just because of other translations, but many Christians interpret this verse to mean that God won’t give you more than you can handle.

That’s not what this verse says. That’s not even what this verse is about.

This verse is about temptation. And what Paul is saying here is that everyone experiences temptation. No matter who you are or how long you have followed Christ, you will be tempted to sin. Why? Because we have an enemy and because that enemy wants to make trouble in our lives, so he is going to do everything he can to see that we struggle.

But according to this verse, when we are tempted, God is faithful to help us. When we are tempted to do things we know are wrong, God will provide a way for us to fight back or to escape. He won’t let us be tempted beyond what we can handle.

No where in Scripture does it say that God won’t give us more than we can handle. Life is more than we can handle. That’s why we have God. So why does God insist on giving me issues and problems on the days when I’m too weak to handle them?

Because He does know me.

He knows that I’m a control freak. He knows that I’m a fixer. He knows that I am an insufferable people pleaser. So He allows things into my life to remind me that I don’t have control over any of it. Because the more I try to control my life, the faster I’m going to lose it (Mark 8:35).

It’s easy to focus on everything that is going wrong in your life because it’s directly in front of you. It’s an inescapable truth you have to face every day when you look in the mirror. And if you’re a perfectionist, all you will see is your failures. Your flaws. The times you could have succeeded but didn’t.

But instead of focusing on everything that’s wrong, maybe we should try focusing on what’s right. Because no matter how bad we think we have it, there is always something to be thankful for. Maybe I’m not where I thought I would be at this point in my life, but that doesn’t mean God’s done with me. Maybe I haven’t accomplished all the things I wanted to accomplish yet, but that doesn’t mean those things won’t happen tomorrow or next week.

Putting God on your timetable is always a bad idea. He invented time. So He’s not bound by it, and He moves at His own pace.

So when everything blows up today (and it probably will), instead of wondering why God is throwing all this crap at me at once when I don’t have the strength to keep standing anymore, I’m going to focus on the fact that He’s the one holding me up to begin with.

Yes, He’s giving me more than I can take by myself. But I’m not by myself.