I’m scared because of the diagnosis the doctor gave me. I’m scared because I lost my job. I’m scared because I’ve finished school and don’t know what I’ll do next. I’m scared of the direction my country is headed.
Have you struggled with any of those fears? Maybe yours are different, but just as scary.
There is a certain comfort in knowing what to expect in our lives, but when our lives take unexpected turns, it’s easy to get scared. Fears attack our insecurities, prevent us from doing many things, and cause us to doubt that there can be a positive outcome.
Yet Scripture promises, “Come near to God, and he will come near to you” (James 4:8). When we take our fears to God, we receive God’s help, which God provides in any number of ways: by increasing our courage, giving us peace of mind, or providing us with support and encouragement from family and friends.
I think one of the biggest fears we face is that of change. I spent the first 15 years of my life walking and looking healthy; then doctors found a malignant tumor in my neck. After an 18-hour surgery and 31 strong radiation treatments, I was left extremely weak. I regained some strength, but not enough to walk again, so I needed to get used to doing everything from a wheelchair. That was a big change in obvious and not-so-obvious ways. I learned to accept my new way of life, but not without frustration now and then over the years.
I continued to live with my parents in the house where I grew up. The next big change came when my parents decided to move into a condo. I didn’t know whether I wanted to go along or live on my own, but my mom wanted me to stay with them more than I wanted to leave, so once again I accepted a new way of life. The condo was better in some ways, but not in all ways.
The most difficult change in my life—one we all face sooner or later—came earlier than I expected. My mom was sick all of summer 2007 and passed away at the end of that August. I am still learning to adapt.
A few months after my mom passed away, my family moved my dad into an assisted-living home. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a few years ago, and it was no longer safe or healthy for him to live in the condo. That change left me alone—an easier transition to make emotionally, but tougher financially.
God has been with me through all these changes. Each one could have left me crying “I’m scared!” because it was not what I wanted in my life. But I know God has given me the strength I’ve needed. I agree with the psalmist: “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song” (Psalm 28:7).
So what about tomorrow, next week, or next year? I know at times I will still give in to my fears—that’s my imperfect human nature. I also know I can look to my past and see how God has helped me and know that whatever changes come along, I do not have to be scared. God will give me what I need for whatever situation I may face.
How can we have that faith and trust? Through an ever-growing relationship with God. The more time we spend reading the Bible and praying, the more our faith grows. And as our faith grows, we begin to trust God in more ways.
Life is always going to present us with fearful situations. We cannot avoid that. What we can control is how we face them. As 2 Timothy 1:7 tells us, “God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” With God by our side, we really have nothing to fear.