What does it feel like to live afraid? Afraid of the world? Afraid of people? Afraid of the pandemic? Afraid of politics? Afraid of conflict over anything and everything? What does it feel like to lose friendships that are special to you? What does it feel like to feel as if you’ve failed at the very thing God called you to do in your life?
I recently asked a wise friend, “Why am I angry all the time?” His response shocked me. He said, “Anger and fear cannot share the same space. None of us like to be afraid and so we fill those spaces with anger – it pushes the fear away.” He then asked, “John, what are you afraid of?”
Unfortunately, there are a lot of answers to that question. If I want to resist anger and not let it take up so much space in me, I must confront the very things I am afraid of. I can honestly say (whether I am blind to this or not) that I have never lived my life afraid. But over the past 20 months, there have been many things that I fear. I am afraid of losing friendships. I am afraid of losing church members. I am afraid of being ill-equipped. I am afraid of failing. But here is the rub: It is true that if I lose these things, it will hurt deeply. But loss and pain are not the end of life in Christ. As a matter of fact, Christ taught us that loss, suffering, pain, and even death are not the end. I may be afraid, but the loss of these things does not mean the end of life in Jesus.
So, I am giving some space to my fears…not so they have power over me or so that they debilitate me…but so that I can remember that I can be afraid, and trust that God’s got this. I’m ready to be done with anger. Maybe you are as well. But we must first acknowledge we are afraid. I’m finding that as I do this, I can hear God’s words about fear in a new way.
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” – Psalm 23:4
“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” – Psalm 27:1
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.” – Psalm 46:1-3
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” – Luke 14:27
“He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day.” – Psalm 91:4-5