Having walked in the grip of fear for years, I’ve learned some truths about the freedom process. I’ve learned through experience that God sometimes takes us into the midst of our fear to teach us how to overcome it.
This is probably not what you want to hear, but it’s the truth. And according to the Bible, you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free (John 8:32). Let me give you some scriptural examples.
The first story that comes to mind is the story of Moses and the children of Israel. They had just left Egypt and God was leading them. Yet, he guided them right to the edge of the Red Sea. There were cliffs on both sides, the Red Sea in front and the Egyptians closing in from behind. They were trapped. God lead them to a place of fear.
Why? To cripple them and make them suffer? No. He lead them there to reveal himself in a powerful way. “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will accomplish for you today” (Exodus 14:13). He lead them to a place where they could not rely on their own strength.
Then there was Gideon (Judges 6, 7). He was a terribly fearful man. God came to him and told him to fight against the cruel and brutal Midianites. This huge, powerful army outnumbered the Israelites.
After Gideon gathered together the warriors of Israel, God said, “You have too many soldiers” (Judges 7:2). And, his massive army was stripped down to 300 soldiers. And when they attacked, they didn’t use swords and spears. Rather, they attacked with clay pots and torches. It doesn’t make sense, does it? Yet, God revealed himself to Gideon and showed him that victory does not come in man’s strength, but in God’s strength.
When facing fear, you can respond one of two ways: you can cope with it or you can overcome it. For most of my life, I just coped with those terrifying thoughts. I numbed the fear with a variety of anesthesia–things like distraction, perfectionism, medication, alcohol, food and work.
Yet, there was a season in my life when God lead me into the midst of my fear. It wasn’t easy. It was very difficult. But, it was healing. God taught me how to overcome fear by trusting in him. Today, fear no longer controls my life. Panic has no place in me anymore. Let me share what happened one night that was a turning point for me in this battle with panic:
It was a Thursday night, three days after a major panic attack. I woke up at 2 in the morning with my heart racing. My body was numb with adrenaline. I was ready to pounce out of bed and cope with the fear as best I knew how. But, I didn’t. I wouldn’t. I started praying, “God, I cannot give into this fear. If I do, then it has won. Therefore, I will not run. I will trust you. I will fear you alone.”
For an hour, my body trembled uncontrollably. Waves of shivers would sweep through my body. Everything in me wanted to run. Everything in me wanted to cope. But, I would not let myself give in to the fear.
Was it terrifying? Yes.
Was it scary? Yes.
Did I feel God’s presence? No.
Was he there? I’m sure of it.
That night was a major victory for me. I believe God allowed me to experience this intense fear to teach me how to rely on him alone. I know now that nothing in this world can give me peace. Only God can. When God revealed himself to Gideon in Judges 6:24, Gideon named the place “Yawheh Shalom” which literally means “I AM Peace”.
I know that God wants you to overcome your fears. I also know that unless you face your fears, you will never overcome them. Let me share a verse of scripture that I’ve held onto during the darkest of nights: “Do not fear anything except the LORD Almighty. He alone is the Holy One. If you fear him, you need fear nothing else” (Isaiah 8:13).
In Christ, you can be victorious!
Prayer: Lord, I have avoided the place of fear for quite some time. Lord, today, I choose to trust you and put all of my hope in you. In that place of fear, you are can make me strong. You can give me the victory I need by trusting in you.