Last year I went through a traumatic season of life. The fear and anxiety I lived with 24 hours a day affected EVERYTHING. My insides literally felt like they were frozen in fear, and I could hardly swallow food, let alone try to digest it. I lost 30 pounds in 3 months. My thoughts were jumbled, confused, disorganized. Sleep evaded me, and when I could actually get some rest I would wake up with a start, heart and mind already racing with fear and adrenaline. My mind and body felt broken and dysfunctional.
Knowing God “has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and of a sound mind” was confusing. Trials cause fear, and Jesus told us “in this world you will have tribulation”. Proverbs says, “many are the afflictions of the righteous.”
If battles and trials will continue to abound, how do we live without fear in the midst of our trials?
Is it only possible to be “fear-free” when a trial is over and resolved?
Fear has a purpose: to kickstart our adrenaline so we ACT when necessary for survival, but it is an unsustainable way to live for long periods of time. It robs us of our ability to think, eat, sleep, and enjoy life. It distracts us from our relationship with God and distorts our view of Him. But God has MORE for us. We are not meant to suffer pain and loss without gaining. We are given the privilege of gaining Christ, and to know Him more through our sufferings.
What place does fear attack the most?
Our concerns for our children. Are they going to make the right choice? Will they listen to God’s call on their heart? Will they learn their lesson and turn back when they make grave mistakes? Can God redeem their brokenness, especially when it has been caused by someone else?
The well-known 23rd Psalm is a beautiful picture of our Shepherd who provides, protects, and corrects us. However, verse 5 seems curiously placed:
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.
The juxtaposition of a beautifully prepared table meant to honor a guest in the presence of their enemies!
When an enemy (read danger) is present there are usually only two options: Fight or Flight!
Our Good Shepherd presents a third option: to enjoy Him and His favor while the enemy watches.
Fight or flight mode is fueled by adrenaline. You cannot sit still or process food when full of fear, yet God wants us to be able to function in the presence of what makes us afraid. God wants to bestow His favor upon us in the face of our enemy, with us making no apologies.
I picture David out in the hills of Israel, about to battle Goliath, or one of his many other foes. The setting is rugged, they are out there for war, when all of a sudden a table is being prepared right smack in the middle of the battlefield: a lovely tablecloth, centerpiece, extravagant dishes followed by a delicious feast.
David stops focusing on his enemy and turns to the feast his Shepherd has prepared. How does he sit still with the adrenaline of fear running through him? How does he swallow even one bite of food with his insides seized up in anxiety? All this while the enemy is still present, observing?
Then his Shepherd anoints his head with oil, like Samuel did in the presence of his father and brothers to symbolize God’s favor upon David to become king.
This is a beautiful picture of how tangibly God wants us to experience His peace in the middle of a battle, not just after it’s over.
There is often disconnect for us when we read, “Do not fear, do not be afraid” but also “many are the afflictions of the righteous…in this world you will have tribulation.”
How do we not fear in the middle of a trial? How do we keep from being devoured by our worries over the battles our children are facing?
Our Shepherd wants us to stop, even in the midst of battle, to enjoy Him. To remember His favor upon us.
To recognize and receive His blessings and gifts, even in the presence of our enemies. He wants us to abide with Him, to commune with Him, and to learn to be at rest in our confidence in Him. He is not phased by our enemy, and He does not want us to be either.
In the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge until these calamities have passed by. I will cry out to God Most High, to God who performs all things for me-. -Psalm 57:1-2
Are you caught up in a fearful frenzy this week that God wants to free you from? Are you so full of adrenaline that you have not been able to recognize the feast and favor He has prepared before you in the very presence of your enemy? Confess the fear to a friend, pull up a chair to feast on His Word, and rest with confidence in His favor in the presence of your enemy.