What is your stronghold?
What is it that makes you feel like you have plummeted 5 million feet below sea level, with a weight around your ankle and no air tank? What causes your heart to beat too fast and anxious thoughts to race through your mind? What grips you like a bully holding down your arms?
For me, I struggle with a few things.
But the worst, by far, is fear.
There’s an actual feeling I associate with fear. It’s an oppressive, smothering sensation when fear is at its worst.
My fear surrounds harm coming to my kids or myself.
Not only do I stress about common scenarios like one of them falling off the monkey bars or getting hit with a rogue baseball, but I plan ahead with my worry.
Driving sometimes is an exercise in deep breaths and reciting scripture because I wonder if “today” is the day we will be hit head-on by an out-of-control semi or if a construction truck will have neglected to tie down its metal tubes and one will fly off and crash through our windshield. Or, what if someone fails to stop at a red light and I’m T-boned? What if I don’t see the train coming? What if the rusty supports on the bridge decide to give way right as I’m crossing? How will I possibly release all of the kids in time from their seat belts/car seats and swim them all to safety?
And when we make it home safely, I have other things that clutter my mind and take my breath away.
Like how Evangelical Christians are now being considered hate groups. I wonder if that verse in the Bible where Jesus says, “But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say” (Matthew 10:19) will become a reality in my lifetime.
Do you see?
It is exhausting being in my head.
Exhausting and unnecessary. And unproductive.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
I used to think that verse was God shushing me and stroking my hair while he calmly whispered to me.
But then I read something that rocked my world, and not in a mother-holding-her-sleeping-baby kind of “rocked.” No, this was in a meteor-the-size-of-Texas kind.
Joshua 1:9 says:
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
My eyes were opened. It’s God asking, “Have I not COMMANDED you…”
This was God saying, “I am not asking you, nor am I suggesting to you, but I am DEMANDING that you not fear” (Mandy paraphrase).
Demanding with authority.
Look at the following definitions for Command: directing authoritatively, to demand or receive as one’s due, to have or exercise direct authority, to dominate as if from an elevated place…
So, yeah … God isn’t cooing in our ears, “Shhhh, darlin’. Everything’s gonna be okay.” (Said with a slight southern drawl.)
No! He is pointing in a “Uncle Sam wants YOU!” manner and TELLING us we are not allowed to fear.
We have been commanded not to fear.
So, no longer can I look at God’s directive as merely for my own good, but as a direct order with which I must comply.
I learned some interesting things while reading Lysa TerKeurst’s book, Unglued. In it, she explained how our bodies react physiologically to fear. Our fight or flight response kicks in and actually stimulates parts of our brain that focus on getting us out of whatever the situation is that is causing the fear or anxiety. That reaction actually keeps the brain from thinking logically. Therefore, we are not able to think clearly or make wise decisions.
God certainly does not want us making poor decisions. He wants us thinking logically.
So if we allow fear to consume us, if we focus on that anxiety or those things that make us afraid, it interferes with making wise decisions.
Is this an area in which you struggle — with fear and anxiety? Is it a stronghold from which you just can’t seem to break free? You can join me on a journey through Scripture and of listening to God speak to an anxious heart in my new eBook The Anxious Mom: Learning to Cope Using God’s Word.
Editor’s Note: This post is adapted from The Anxious Mom: Learning to Cope Using God’s Word by Mandy Pagano and has been used with permission.