by Carla Dennis
Feb. 26, 2015
Deuteronomy 31:6 of the Message — Be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t give them a second thought because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you.
It was 1933 when President Roosevelt delivered his now-famous words, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Well, I think that’s easier said than done. Although a quarter of the nation at the time was unemployed and the future seemed uncertain, I’m sure he probably couldn’t imagine how fearful our society would still be today – more than 75 years later. There are a number of real and perceived threats – real threats to the environment and to equal rights as well as perceived fears used to as a tactic to drive a story or agenda. For example, think about all of the times you’ve heard “shocking new details” or “possible links.” What new development are “officials currently monitoring,” and what “disturbing questions have been raised?” When will the next “deadliest attack” occur?
Fear can also be individualized. For many of us, a fear might have kept us from trying something new. We may have fears about being judged or being perceived as vulnerable. For example, how many of us were hesitant about even writing a devotional for fear it would not be good enough?
Anxiety runs in my family. My mother learned to drive in her late 20s, and to this day, driving still makes her nervous. In fact, she prefers not to drive at night and NEVER drives on expressways out of fear. My sister also waited until her late 20s to get her driver’s license after having failed her first driver’s test when she was in her teens. My other sister, who is turning 30 this year, still does not have hers (although living in a city with great public transportation, it’s not needed anyway). I was fortunate to have seemingly escaped this family fear . . . until recently. As soon as I turned 16, I had my dad take me to the DMV to get my license. Even though I failed my first exam too (we have sort of a rolling stop in Chicago that wasn’t too well-received by the examiner), I didn’t stop there. In fact, I asked my dad to take me back the following day to take the driver’s exam, and I passed with flying colors. This joy of driving stayed with me until July 2012 when I was in a significant accident that totaled my car. Fear crept in, and I became more hesitant and nervous as a driver. Then in October 2013, I was hit again, resulting in another car being totaled. Now, fear was my constant passenger. Each time I got behind the wheel, I was certain someone else was going to rear-end me. I made for a lousy passenger as I was not able to trust any other driver, including Joe. Although much of my fear has subsided during the past 16 months, it’s still around from time-to-time.
No doubt dealing with fear is one of the toughest problems we face, but how successful we are depends on our approach. Oftentimes when it comes to fear, it is our lack of ability to control a situation that is most unsettling. But control is something that is reserved for God. Instead of trying to be God, we should make better strides in trusting God. God wants us to know that God is with us all the time. In fact, the Bible is filled with numerous times when God has told people not to be afraid. Although that command may not always seem realistic – I mean, why have an emotion if you’re not supposed to use it – God never expects us to do something we’re incapable of doing. God is pretty good about equipping us for the task. It can be hard to trust God, especially in the face of fear, but God never lets us go. Although our fears may be too strong for us, God is able to handle it. Through prayer we can turn our fears over to God, and refocus our attention on our confidence in God and God’s love for us.
Prayer: We know that you are a God of love and do not abandon or forsake us in times of fear. Help us to let go in spite of our fears and trust you to do your will. Amen.