Fear, cousin to fretting, is another thief of peace. And meaner, I think. Frets and worries are small-ish. Nagging. But fear, fear feels bigger and deeper and colder than that. Some fears are intermittent, rearing their ugly heads every so often when it’s least convenient and most paralyzing. But others are incessant, hanging over the whole of your life, robbing you of peace every single day.
As I was reading through Isaiah this year I came across a “holy 2x4 verse.” You know, the kind that God uses to smack you upside the head. Isaiah 57:11 says,
“Whom have you so dreaded and feared that you have been false to me, and have neither remembered me nor pondered me in your hearts?”
Prompted by this verse, I made a list of fears that I had allowed to take root in my heart, which were causing me to “be false” to God – to believe and behave in a way that wasn’t becoming for a child of His.
The fear of being hurt, the fear of being disliked, being alone. The fear of failure, the fear of the unknown. The fear of my sins, my mistakes, my past. The fear of not being pretty enough, or good enough. The fear of being a bad parent, the fear of not having what we need. The list went on and on. Reading over it in its entirety was a little humiliating. Okay, a lot humiliating.
This verse in Isaiah was eye-opening to me.
-When I’m fearful of being hurt, I’m guarded - an island unto myself instead of honest and relational.
-When I’m fearful of being disliked I become a slave to the opinions of man instead of a servant of God.
-When I’m fearful of failure, I become a perfectionist, or unwilling to try something new, or prideful, or too timid to step out in faith and allow God to use my life for His glory.
-When I’m fearful of being alone I’m not believing the Word of God, which tells me that God will never leave me or forsake me. Or I am not satisfied with Christ alone.
-When I’m fearful of my sins, I’m not trusting in the finished work of Jesus on the cross. Etc.
Fear robs us of our sense of peace by turning us into distracted Christians instead of steadfast Christians. Skittish Christians instead of people filled with the authority of the Holy Spirit. Christians who are preoccupied with making sure everything is “okay” instead of preoccupied with the God who works everything out for His greatest glory.
“Whom have you so dreaded and feared that you have been false to me?”
What I know is that when I’m feeling distracted, skittish, and preoccupied – I would give anything for a moment of God’s perfect peace. To melt into God’s loving arms and know that He is good and that whatever it is, it is well with my soul.
What fears are keeping you from experiencing God’s peace today? Might I suggest that you take some time to write them out? Then match each fear to a piece of Scripture that refutes it, so that every time you feel the fear tugging at your heart, you can confront it with the truth of God’s word.
For example, “I am afraid of the unknown, the uncertainty of my future,” is met with:
“All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” [Psalm 139:16] And “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’” [Isaiah 30:21] And Jeremiah 29:11, “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”