Faith is not always my reflex. I wish it was. I wish you could tap on my fears with a soft hammer and faith would pop up involuntarily like a child’s leg does for the doctor. Just a little stimuli and boom – there’s my faith.
Sometimes it works that way. In carefully practiced situations, when a friend is struggling with something a little more familiar, kids or marriage or work issues – I’m first in line to pray with and for them, believing in God’s ability to intervene and sustain.
But sometimes I’m slower. Sometimes my reflexes are lethargic. When I’m charting new territory and I have no muscle memory here, I sit with my thoughts longer, sink in the tension for a while without even realizing the rising tide.
When Fear and Anxiety Sneak In
Yesterday was a perfect example. Fear was imminent and the cause was valid. This wasn’t the “what if my kid grows up and still does not know how to pick up after himself like a normal human being” fear. This one was immediate and close enough to touch – the “things really might not be okay” kind of anxiety.
Fear is still a bit of a mystery to me. It’s a houseguest that no one even let in. No one really knows when it arrived. It’s just suddenly there, churning your mind, messing with your nervous system. It can take me a surprising amount of time to even acknowledge its existence. This tension, those sharp words, these racing thoughts – oh, wait a minute, I’m giving way to fear here. Maybe you are quicker at recognizing it. I hope so. But I can be slow on the uptake at times.
So this particular evening I sat on the couch while my four kids played with the Legos strung across my living room floor. I turned outcomes over in my mind. Restless, I fiddled with my fingers and silently wondered what to do, when my 6-year-old, the youngest of my bunch, began singing almost mindlessly as he connected colorful bricks. His words were the overflow of what we sang in church that very morning. “Jesus, Jesus you make the darkness tremble.” I paused my fidgeting at the sound of his small voice. “Jesus, Jesus, you silence fear.”
He Silences Fear
Yes, yes. That’s it. That’s everything! In an instant, I was up and seconds later I was blasting that song through my home loud enough to drown out my off-key singing voice. At the sweet reminder from my own child, I was proclaiming His greatness rather than sitting with my fear.
Through the praise of children and infants, you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.
In the aftermath, I realized I need a better battle plan. I need a way to boss myself around, to will my heart into action when fear paralyzes me. So I made a list. For you and me both. In case of emergency, start here.
Worship re-instates proper positioning. It realigns my heart, transfixed on the real and scary thing in front of me, toward the greatness of the One before me. Worship settles me in humility, lifts my can-do eyes, and re-orients my fear toward Him.
Seeing Him rightly, I can cast my cares on Him. I can talk openly, vulnerably about the angst I am feeling. David modeled this dialogue for us in the Psalms as did Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane.
The words we have committed to memory are our lifeline in these moments. On the day I spoke of above, I opened my Bible to read and could not settle my mind enough to focus. Fear does that, friend – which is why we must know Truth. We don’t need to make this harder than it is. Start small. One verse. One passage. One sentence. “You restore my soul.” “You are with me.” Proclaim it. And on calmer days, get to memorizing. Fill the bank with deposits to draw from in the future.
It is easy to sing songs about this on happy days, “praising Him in the storm” and all that, but there is a gut-wrenching honesty to our praise when we are standing knee deep, drenched in that very storm. We can boldly remember His faithfulness in the past. We can hope defiantly, knowing His goodness despite what we see in front of us. And we can praise Him for His nearness that supersedes our feelings in this very moment.
This can be both beautiful and challenging. Use discernment here. Share carefully with a friend or mentor who you can trust to point you to Truth, a friend who will lift your arms and stand in the gap. You don’t need an army. Just find a friend or two who can help you process rightly.
I’m tacking this one up for future days. Storms often come with little warning. Be prepared. I promise He will meet you there.
Katie, I Choose Brave
Katie Westenberg is a wife, mother and writer who is passionate about living life bravely for the glory of our Creator and encouraging others to do the same. She enjoys country living in a small town, time spent with friends and family, and saying YES to adventure. She writes at ichoosebrave.com.