I thought I had outgrown these feelings, but here I am again, lying in bed, imagining all sorts of horrible things. The stillness in the dark only makes it worse. There are no sounds to distract me from the “what ifs” running wild in my head.
No one likes to admit they struggle with fear. My friends don’t discuss that feeling that keeps me awake at night. Maybe it’s just me.
In my youth, fears often centered around the unknown, the unseen spiritual powers of the world. Basically, I was scared of ghosts.
When I was a young adult, I worried about things that might happen to me. What kind of things? Well, I don’t want to stir your imaginations but let’s just say, I would see a news story or hear of some tragedy and wonder, “what if that were me?”
Becoming a mother ramped up the fear factor tremendously.
Now, I wasn’t just afraid of things that would happen to me, but things that might happen to my children. If you are a mother, you know what I’m talking about. Every tragedy you read about, every illness, every danger, every injustice, you think “what if that were my child?“. And your feelings are instensified. We can handle our own pain and injustices much easier than we can tolerate our child’s pain and any injustice that befalls them. It’s our job to protect them. Our fear is that we might not be able to.
When someone asked, “what is your greatest fear?” these moments came to mind and I replied simply, vaguely “that something bad would happen to my kids.” In the dark, after everyone was asleep, the enemy would taunt me. It wasn’t just a vague “something”. Vivid images of tragedy would assault my mind. My brain seemed to be playing an endless game of “what would that feel like? What would it sound like? What would her face look like? What would I do?” Over the years, I must have imagined every possible tragedy. I would feel sorrow, anger, disgust.
Eventually, I developed a plan for overcoming fear.
I learned to follow every thought through to its conclusion. It’s a scary path to take, but it works. What if? Ok, Satan, what if….
What if the worst should happen?
In the wake of tragedy, there would be the immediate raw feelings. Those would be almost unimaginable. Soon after that would come the practical duties. Moments filled with professionals–medical, law enforcement maybe, funeral directors perhaps. There would be phone calls to the family to announce what had happened. This was an awful thought, but it required putting a label on those fears.
These are grim thoughts, but no worse than the scenes concoted by my fearful mind.
After the immediate coping and managing the tragedy, there would be a stillness. Eventually, the necessities of life would call me back to living. Laundry will need to be washed. Groceries will need to be bought.
However unpoetically, life goes on. Despite some gaping emotional wound, living must continue.
And then, that is when I will find the only strength that is strong enough to carry a deeply wounded soul: The Lord, Our God.
He will be there through anything that comes my way. He is my Comforter, my Counselor, the Keeper of my soul. If I should lose all that He has given me–health, safety, security, love, companionship–He will still be there. In Him I have peace.
Usually, this is the point in my battle with fear where I fall asleep. Since I am awake and writing to you, I’ll include some of the verses that help me battle my fears.
“If I make my bed in the depths, you are there.” Psalm 139:8 Even if I am in a pit of despair, He is with me.
“The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.” Psalm 28:7
“I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him! Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God.” Luke 12:5 You are not forgotten before God.
“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.” Joshua 1:9
“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5 I especially like the King James Version of this verse because it says “casting down imaginations.” In my imagination, I am overcome with fear.
Satan wants nothing more than for you to believe that you are alone, foresaken, forgotten. The Word of God promises us that we are not.
I have lived a very good life. I have experienced only a small portion of pain, sorrow, and loss. Sometimes, this makes me feel like waiting for the other shoe to drop. Life has tragedies, doesn’t it? Life includes pain and sorrow. So I worry that my story hasn’t happened yet, that my tragedy, trial, and triumph are yet to come. Maybe, maybe not.
But whether it comes my way or not, I know that I will endure, because I serve a living God whose glory endures forever.