FEAR: False Evidence Appearing Real

There's a lot to be said about be afraid--about having a constant fear gnawing at you day after day. Fear literally shrinks your mind...it also shrinks your entire world. I know it shrunk mine for a very long time, and it still manages to keep it there ever since this pandemic took center stage. People who normally didn't suffer with debilitating fear are now experiencing it for the first time ever. This world is full of illness, rage, injustice and grief. For a while, I sunk back into my small world---into that fearful corner of anxiety and hypochondria. I had to stop thinking that every little tickle in my throat was the corona virus and that each sniffle would bring me closer to a ventilator. Back in the day (like last year) I would've just blown it off, popped a Claritin and be done with it. Today, I question every sensation in my body, monitoring it like a prison guard. My heart would start racing, but there was nobody to really help me. I couldn't just go to a doctor or check into the ER. No. Those places are now out of the question. I had to literally face my fear head on. At the brink of going insane, I finally gave it all to God. Each morning's racing heart was met with a prayer before my feet hit the ground. Enough is enough. When it seemed as though nothing would help, I just kept saying under my breath, "I trust you...I trust you.

Being Brave in the Midst of the Storm

Remember what happened to Peter in Matthew 8?

The storm was barreling down on them, and Peter asked, “Lord, is it You?” Peter asked. “If it is, tell me to come to you on the water.”

“Come,” Jesus said.

So Peter got out of the boat. He walked on the water toward Jesus. - Matthew 14:28-29

When Peter looked at the wind and waves, he began to doubt if Jesus was more powerful than the storm that surrounded him (Matthew 14:31).

He cried out, “Lord! Save me!” Right away Jesus reached out His hand and caught him. “Your faith is so small!” He said. “Why did you doubt Me?” - Matthew 14:30-31

When Peter looked at the wind and waves, he began to doubt if Jesus was more powerful than the storm that surrounded him (Matthew 14:31).

Do you know what the Bible says about doubt? “People who doubt are like waves of the sea. The wind blows and tosses them around.” (James 1:6) What an interesting word picture! Peter’s doubt literally caused him to be tossed around in the wind and waves. He began to sink. We look at the scary situation around us. We doubt whether God actually has power over that situation, or if He cares enough to help us. We may stop doing what God wants us to do. Or we may be overwhelmed with fear. You know the kind of fear I’m talking about---the kind that makes you feel like there’s a whirlwind in the pit of your stomach. But here is the truth: Lots of situations are too big or too scary for you to handle, but nothing is too big for Jesus. Don’t focus on the situation you are in. Focus on the One who has power over every situation. He WANTS to do what is best for you, and He is ABLE to do what is best for you. Focusing on that truth should give you peace. That truth should give you the confidence to step out of your boat and do what it is He wants you to do without any fear.---read more like this.

Each morning after, the first thing I did was look to Jesus. I thanked Him for another day. Every morning after that, my anxiety lessened little by little. My fear lessened as well. I still have a lot of work ahead of me, but I 'stepped out of the boat' at least, I 'walked on water' and if I sink, it's because doubt starts filling my mind again, but if I keep my eyes on Jesus, I won't sink. If you keep your faith strong and don't let it sink, you will see you can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens you.

FEAR is a liar. FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real. The devil is a liar. He's just waiting for you to sink into the water. It's funny how many people are a little shy to admit that they are Christians or that they pray to Jesus. They think they'll be seen as a "holy roller" or that they're one of those judgmental bigots holding signs demeaning other people. The fact is, your relationship with God is your own. People--those who worship God but their behavior shows differently are lost or hurting. Some even have a warped view on what God is. God is LOVE. God doesn't represent hatred or insults. He represents YOU. We are all "sinners" and we all fall short sometimes. That's OKAY. That's the perfect time to go to God and talk with Him. Did you know that fear is spoken about 365 times in the Bible? So each day, for an entire year, you can read something that'll help you with your fear. It's one of the most talked about things in the Bible.

False Evidence Appearing Real

Have you ever noticed a time when you had anxiety about something you had to do or somewhere you had to go? You thought the worse case scenario and it may have filled your mind with doubt. But when you went through it in fear, you realized that none of those things that you were thinking about actually happened. We seem to forget them when everything pans out. Especially for agoraphobic people like myself, I will drum up a scenario like, "But what if I break down," "But what if I get stuck in traffic," "But what if I pass out in the middle of the grocery store?" Those "what ifs" will drive you into a smaller world, as it did for myself. It's okay to make a plan. So for instance, if I break down on the road somewhere, I have a phone plus a service my car has where you push a button and an operator comes on to assist you. If I get stuck in traffic (and hopefully I'm in the slow lane) I can simply pull over, do some breathing exercises or call someone. If I pass out in the grocery store (which never happened to me)---then someone would definitely help me, I'm sure. If I rationalize my irrational fears, it makes me braver, like, "I can do this!"

Fear is a Normal Fight or Flight Response

Without a doubt, I still get those late night panic attacks where I sometimes call my sister for help. She then puts my mind at ease and I start thinking, "Why am I so out of control?" But it's okay. Sometimes it happens and it's good to have a trusted person to be available when they can. And when nobody is there to help, talk to God about it. Go in another room and just pray as if you were talking to a trusted friend. This is what's been keeping me sane lately. Now, when I wake up in the morning, my heart isn't racing as much as it usually does. I can get all my work done, make coffee and enjoy my mornings again. Fear will ruin your life if you don't get a grip on it.

Yes it's normal to "fear" the virus.
Yes it's normal to "fear" our world being so incredibly different.
Yes it's normal to "fear" not being able to see our friends and family again.
Yes it's normal to "fear" unemployment and the collapse of our economy.

But guess who is stronger than all of those scenarios above? The earth recycles events and even plagues. In 1918, they were plagued with the Spanish Flu. (Which has now become politically incorrect to say these days.) There were earthquakes, locusts, tornadoes, tsunamis and wars. We have been through much of it, maybe not in our lifetime, but this world has seen it all. Is it a sign of Jesus coming back? Nobody truly knows the day nor hour. But it's good to be ready and excited for it, nonetheless.

All of it is so very frightening. So I've come to the conclusion that we should never fear death. Yep--I said it. It's such a primitive and natural fear, isn't it? So how do you overcome fearing death? By believing that God is there to take you when you leave this world. Faith will let you overcome that fear. But faith is like a muscle, you have to keep at it for it to become stronger. You can't just say, "Well, I believe in God, so...." It's gotta be more than that. I do believe that we are living the end times, but that's neither here nor there. We are all going to perish one way or another, some day or another, so we might as well face it fearlessly, and keep our eyes on Jesus. Walk on the water and don't fall---have faith.

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