As unimaginable as I would have thought several years ago, I am no longer afraid.
Not even in 2020 with –
record job loss
a disastrous economy
fear-mongering news being peddled nightly by the media outlets
and an unrecognizable nation that I see before my eyes due to the upcoming election
Surprising even me, I still don’t feel the fear rising up inside.
Why, I wonder?
I think it is because I have finally taken some lessons to heart and boy, are they ever making an impact in my life! These lessons have taught me that I have a CHOICE over being afraid. I don’t have to automatically feel that way even when circumstances may appear to warrant it.
Recently, this observation came to light in a conversation I had with a family member. It was in April after our youngest son, who had moved to New York City, had come back home to work remotely rather than stay in Brooklyn where he lived and Manhattan where he worked. He had been back with us in Jacksonville for a few weeks when our family member called to question his decision to come back and our decision to allow him to stay with us. Our family member was frightened of COVID and felt we had been foolish, almost negligent, in allowing our son to live with us during his work-from-home time. As he chided me over the risk my husband and I had allowed, I answered back that we were not afraid.
Our family member could not believe that we weren’t afraid! In fact, he became irritated that we were not! He kept pressing in over why we should live in fear over what was happening in our country and how uncertain the future was. At that moment, I silently examined myself to see if indeed I was beginning to feel the burden of what he was saying, and honestly, I felt nothing but peace.
I calmly replied with what I had become convinced of a few years earlier- either God will get us through it or He will take us home. There are no other options as a believer. That, my friends, gives me more than just peace, IT GIVES ME FREEDOM!
Seeing a “memory” post pop up on Facebook today, I begin to recognize how the power of fear has been broken in my life. Here is the post from today-
“Several years ago, I was fretting my way through most days as I thought about the future. I would talk to God about all the reasons why the future seemed so doubtful over a particular issue we faced as a family.
He was patient with me for quite a while but let me tell you , one day He snapped my whining to an end. He posed a question to me that still impacts me today. “Why do you worry over the future more than you rejoice over how I have taken care of you in the past and present?”
Hmmmmm good point.
Why am I doing that?!
He was right! He HAD been very faithful about this circumstance. Although it had been difficult at times, no fears had come to reality as of yet so why was I spending so much time and energy worrying about the future?!
Worry is feeling bad over what HASN’T happened. What a wasted emotion!
God was convicting me of wasting time and energy when I could be rejoicing, which brings joy to me and glory to God.
To this day, I am able to quickly recognize when I am wasting my opportunity to feel good and instead, choose to cooperate with the scheme of my enemy. He wants nothing more than for me to fret my time away.
Instead of “praying” in fear, stewing over what COULD go wrong in the future, I choose to praise God for all that has gone right yesterday and today!
Let me tell you, God wants us all to walk in freedom against fear, and thanksgiving is our weapon to achieve that!”
In addition to the practical life lessons, God graciously supplies plenty of Scripture to be the greatest foundation for living without fear. This came to mind a few days ago while I was reading through my chronological Bible. I was reading in Daniel 3 about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. When threatened with death if they did not bow down in submission to a false god, they replied-
“King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
I love their response of faith! They did not feel the pressure to defend themselves. This speaks volumes of their freedom from people-pleasing and seeking the approval of others. These 3 men knew God and His Truth. They did not need to justify themselves to others. Their standing before God mattered more than their standing before men.
Additionally, they believed that God was able and willing to deliver them but, if He chose not to, they still would not bow down to the societal pressure of their day. They were completely at peace with whatever God decided for them. What mattered most was not acceptance or safety, but faithfulness.
It is hard not to consider this in relation to the pressures we feel in 2020 to “bend the knee”. On one hand, there are those in our nation who are willing to do whatever is “necessary” in order to feel assured of their safety. This notion of feeling “safe” has become an idol to our society, even among Christians. Our affluence as Americans has made us idolize our personal well-being.
This, of course, is counter to what we read in Scripture.
Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Mark 4:18-19
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? Luke 12:22-26
Due to the threat of COVID, we can feel defenseless against each and every case being reported. A sense of doom and gloom begins to permeate our lives. This in turn makes us willing to lay down our liberties and grant our submission in the hope of a false sense of security. Our “safety” is not up to us ultimately. We can do everything within our power to be safe and protected and still die tomorrow if God so determines it.
Our frantic need for the assurance of our safety is troublesome because it ultimately reveals our idolatry. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego knew that their life and times were in the hands of their Almighty, Loving, Faithful God, not in their own pursuit of their own well-being. Their safety was secondary to their commitment to God. Consequently, their hope was placed in His hands for their personal welfare in the land of their exile.
Not only do we feel the pressure to bow to the idol of safety but also the idol of public approval/exoneration. When we feel pressure to bend our knee in the hope of NOT appearing guilty in the eyes of others, that too is idolatry. We are not placed on the earth to please “man”, only God. He alone sees inside our heart to know if there is prejudice or hate. People can fake “righteousness” and still harbor malice toward others. Our allegiance needs to be placed at the foot of the cross, not anywhere else. No one but Jesus can eradicate hate in the heart of man. It certainly cannot be solved by replacing one racism for another.
I am reminded of Matthew 10:28.
Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
As I watch the public pressure to condemn people just because of their particular race and the expectation of them to feel sorry for any so-called “privilege”, it shows me how we are trying to earn our acceptance/worthiness/righteousness through virtue signaling. Google defines it as such-
the action or practice of publicly expressing opinions or sentiments intended to demonstrate one’s good character or the moral correctness of one’s position on a particular issue.
“it’s noticeable how often virtue signaling consists of saying you hate things”
Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover feast, many believed in His name [identifying themselves with Him] after seeing His signs (attesting miracles) which He was doing. But Jesus, for His part, did not entrust Himself to them, because He knew all people [and understood the superficiality and fickleness of human nature], and He did not need anyone to testify concerning man [and human nature], for He Himself knew what was in man [in their hearts—in the very core of their being]. John 2:23-25 AMP
You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. James 4:4