I often think that our natural inclination as women is to worry. For whatever reason, we seem more prone to it than men.
A distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid. Synonyms: foreboding, apprehension, consternation, dismay, dread, terror, fright, panic, horror, trepidation, qualm. Antonyms: courage, security, calm, intrepidity.
To torment oneself with or suffer from disturbing thoughts; to fret.
Those of us prone to these emotions have no limit to what we can worry about: finances, bad storms, what people think of us, getting older, health issues. At times, we can get so worked up over something that we are afraid of, that it becomes a reality in our minds and replaces the truth of Who God is and what He has promised us.
This innate tendency is further exacerbated by the issues that surround emotional circumstances, such as infertility, miscarriage, and infant loss. These issues can include, but certainly aren’t limited to:
- Another negative BFP
- Our biological clock ticking away
- The lack of control over the health issues preventing a healthy pregnancy
- Experiencing another loss
- Experiencing another heart-break
- A lifetime of bareness
- People’s opinions of our experiences or our reactions to them
- Grieving the “wrong way” or in an “unspiritual” way
- Failing our living children
- That our husband will not understand our pain
There are two types of fear: the type that keeps us safe, and the type that controls us.
Fear that keeps us safe is a positive fear. We must have a healthy fear of some things, such as our toddler near an open body of water or of slicing our fingers when we chop onions. These fears allow us to make restrictions for ourselves and those we love, to protect us from situations that we know to be dangerous. However, if the fear of our child drowning keeps us from letting them take a bath or go to the beach, or if our fear of slicing our finger keeps us from having knives in the house, we are letting our fears control us.
We cannot let fear control us, rather, we must have control over our fears. We can know that we have crossed the line from healthy fear into controlling fear when certain issues manifest themselves in our lives:
- We become control freaks over other issues we can control. This may be a micro-managing of our husbands or an unhealthy obsession with what we put in our mouth or always being “in the need to know” socially, so as to be aware if someone is talking about us. The more out of control we feel in the areas destroyed by our fears, the more we attempt to control other areas of our life in an over-the-top manner, driving ourselves and often, those around us, nuts.
- We become the victim of panic attacks. During initial attacks, a person may actually believe that they are going to die. These attacks sometimes manifest themselves as literal heart attacks. Our fear has tapped into our flight or fight response so much that we find ourselves in a panic mode, more often than not.
- We avoid social situations. Our fear robs us of so much freedom and joy that we find it safer to remain isolated at home, never going out, assured by the solitude of our own private world. Living in this way prevents us from ministering to others, which in turn, keeps us selfishly focused inward, which then feeds the fear and worry keeping us in bondage.
- A short fuse and constant pessimistic attitude becomes our norm. How can it not, when fear and worry control our every thought and action? Constantly on edge, there is little room for positive emotions. Instead, negativity becomes the key descriptor of our lives, and along with that comes irritability and even anger.
- A lack of praise to and focus on God. Our fears and our worries take the place of God and Who He is in our lives. Instead of focusing on the glory He is worth, we ruminate on our fears. Instead of spending our time offering the sacrifice of praise, we feed that which becomes our greatest enemy—the “maybe’s” and “what if’s”. We and our feelings become an idol, as we place God at the bottom of our priority list.
Pretty much, anytime we fail to do what we are suppose to be doing, due to fear or worry, we are sinning.
So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. James 4:17
This is a huge issue and in that it only grows bigger, when we don’t take active steps to get it under control. In order to do that, we need to find some Biblical guidelines regarding fear.
- The Bible tells us clearly what we are to fear, or rather, “Who” we are to fear.
The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. Ecclesiastes 12:13
While this is not a “terrified, scared of what God will do” fear, rather it is a reverential fear that places God above all else in our lives, realizing He is a sovereign God who performs all things for His own glory. Our human fears diminish in light of this reverential fear and in the understanding that He is God, and we are not. We find safety in the fact that He will and does perform all things to His glory and His ways are beyond our understanding. There is a security and peace that comes in the fact that He holds all things in His hands. Our earthly fears pale in comparison to Who God is and what He is able to do.
We most often show our fear of the Lord through obedience. We understand He deserves our reverence and our focus, rather than what we fear the most. So, we obey His commands, offer the sacrifices of praise out of broken hearts, and surrender everything—longings, fears, worries to His sovereignty, committing it all to Him, and trusting that He will work it out for His glory.
Come, to children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. What man is there who desires life and loves many days, that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. Psalm 34:11-14
2. We combat fear by taking every thought captive and casting down imaginations.
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 (kjv)
What exactly does this mean?
First of all, every single fear that manifests itself must be run to Jesus Christ. Our default is to dwell on it, allowing it to consume and become larger with every minute given to it. Rather, we need to default into the truth of God’s Word and a conversation with Jesus.
“Here is that fear—again. Please take it from me. With your authority, take this fear and banish it from my mind.” Or “Jesus, here is what is taking over my mind. Please show me YOUR thoughts about it. Speak your truth into the darkness of this fear.”
It’s a choice. We either dwell on the fear at hand for hours on end, or we take it captive and then, once we’ve handed it over to our Savior, we must replace it with those things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise.
Do you feel as if your circumstance offers nothing like this to think on? Do not create more negatives by dwelling on the “what ifs” and the “would-a, could-a, should-as” in your life. Go to the truth – God’s Word. Begin in the Psalms and find the promises. When we are unable to come up with our own positive thoughts, the Bible provides them in abundance.
3. Worry about nothing, pray about everything.
Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7
Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. Psalm 37:8b
If you can worry, then, you can pray. Take the worrisome thoughts and turn them into a prayer. God knows the thoughts of our hearts anyhow, so spill it out to Him in your brokenness. Offer a prayer of surrender, a prayer of trust, and a prayer of praise.
4. Surrender to God’s sovereignty, trusting His way is best. You will probably have to do this many times during the course of your grieving journey.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9
For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Romans 8:6-8
When we can truly grasp that God is sovereign and nothing is without purpose, our worst fears lose their power. This is a difficult place to reach in the struggle against fear but a beautiful place to arrive at. We cannot fear what will happen, because we know that nothing will break our hearts so much that He cannot heal them. Nothing will be so devastated that it will not be redeemed. Nothing will be so full of grief that it will not be revealed as joy, in His presence some day. The truth is our hope, found only in the words of God Himself.
5. Trusting His grace is sufficient, even when it does not feel like it.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:8
Until that day when our hearts are fully healed, joy is fully restored, and our earthly eyes receive heavenly vision of how the grief was redeemed, His grace will carry us. We will receive it by asking for it, and then claiming it in faith.
We must also keep in mind that much of what we fear or worry about, never even comes to fruition. We waste God’s gift of “now” by living in a “what if” world. Learn from the past, hope for the future, and live in today. Even when it seems that the very worst has happened, and we fear it may happen again, we cannot let it consume and control us. We must believe God’s promise that He will NEVER leave us or forsake us, no matter what. Nothing can separate us from the love of God!
Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. Hebrews 13:5 (kjv)
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39
Fear will reign if God doesn’t. Are you willing to turn your fear into faith?
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1
See From Fear to Faith – Part II – https://perfectjoyministries.wordpress.com/2013/06/19/from-fear-to-faith-part-ii/