The Two Most Important Words that Will Put Our Fears to Rest
Fear is the unpleasant feeling we have when we anticipate a bad, dangerous, or harmful situation.
In the proper context, fear can be good. When the city siren goes off, and we feel fear over the tornado headed in our direction, fear tells us to take cover. Fear tells us to jump into action and run when we smell smoke in the house. Fear can be a springboard for our well-being and our protection.
Fear and anxiety produce the same kind of physiological responses. Our hearts may beat faster or irregularly. Our GI system may be distressed. We may feel shaky and unable to focus.
However, unlike fear, anxiety (and I’ll add to that the similar emotion of worry) is never productive. This is because anxiety and worry never give––they only take.
The difference between fear and anxiety is that fear is in response to something happening in our environment. Anxiety and worry are in response to the things we think about and our preoccupation with what may happen.
Bottom line – worry is a choice.
What a perfect segue into Jennie Allen’s premise that the only thought we need to stop the spiral of toxic thinking is to remember that we have a choice.
They say that to be an expert at something, you need 10,000 hours of experience. Turns out I’m an expert at worrying and being anxious.
Ten thousand hours throughout my lifetime translates into roughly 30 minutes of anxious/worrisome daily thoughts. I’m embarrassed to admit that that number is a cakewalk for me.
Allen says that one of the greatest tools the enemy will use to get us to spiral is to trap us with the words “what if.” The antidote is found in two more words “because God.”
What would our lives look like if we learned to lasso our thoughts with the truth of “because God”?
What if something happens to one of our children? Because God loves them more than we do, we can trust that God has their best interest at heart.
What if cancer comes back? Because God carried us through it the last time, we know He will be faithful to do it again.
What if our spouse leaves? Because God loves us more than any human ever could, we know that we will always be cared for, loved, and fully known.
The list could go on. What a powerful practice we can employ! Every time we hear the words “what if,” we can learn to respond with “because God.”
Jennie Allen says that we are what-iffing ourselves to death. We believe the lie that we cannot trust God to take care of tomorrow. Or perhaps whatever that next fear or worry is. But the truth is that God is in control every day and every moment of our lives.
Bible teacher, Chip Ingram, wrote a study on the characteristics of God. It was loosely based on the teachings of AW. Tozer. There was a quote from Ingram’s study that never left me. It was based on Tozer’s observation that “God has charged Himself with the full responsibility for our eternal happiness, and He stands ready….”
Ingram expanded Tozer’s observation with these words…
“He [God] is going to bring the best results by the best means for the most people for the longest time.”
When our “what iffing” begins to consume us, we can respond to the lie that we can’t trust God, with the truth that God is sovereign and nothing, absolutely nothing, can come between us and the love He has for us.
The other day I was worried about something. I imagined a less than pleasant outcome, and the anxious feeling I had morphed into a prayer. “Please don’t let that happen, Lord.” And then I caught myself.
I had imagined a particular outcome for a situation that hadn’t even taken place. Consequently, I basically asked God to call the whole thing off. I immediately thought of Moses.
In the book of Exodus, we find Moses and the Israelites on the cusp of entering Canaan, the promised land. But the land was unknown to them and full of enemies. I suspect that Moses could have had plenty to worry about if he so chose.
Scripture says that Moses could speak to God face to face as a man speaks to a friend. Moses was HONEST with God when he said,
“If your presence doesn’t take the lead here, call this trip off right now.” Exodus 33:15
Moses knew he couldn’t go it alone.
Life is a journey, isn’t it? It’s full of plenty of unknowns, and uncertain futures for ourselves, our loved ones, our city, and our world.
Thankfully, what God said to Moses then is true for us today. He said:
“All right [Moses]. Just as you say; this also I will do, for I know you well, and you are special to me. I know you by name.” Exodus 33:17
If we continue to unpack this Scripture, we learn that God promised to go with Moses (and the people). He promised to be in their midst––to be within them.
Last week, we learned how intimately God knows us and how fully He loves us. God’s promise is sure; we are known and never alone.
I regret the time I’ve wasted worrying. It would be easy to get stuck regretting regret. But I’ve decided God is bigger than my worries, and He’s bigger than my regrets.
There are many things to be grateful for concerning what Christ did on the cross, but I think one of the most beautiful things is Christ’s ability to redeem.
Christ compensates for our faults, our weaknesses. He reclaims and repurposes every mistake we’ve ever made.
If we’ve lost time, memories, relationships, confidence, joy… whatever we may have lost because of worry or anxiety, Christ can redeem it.
Instead of closing with a prayer, let’s close with this Scripture from Romans. The next time we go down the “what if” spiral, may these words be our “because God” response: