Luke 2:10-11 – Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. Or as it has been memorialized forever thanks to A Charlie Brown Christmas, from the King James, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy.
This was the message the angels delivered to the shepherds on that Christmas night. There was good news to be delivered to these shepherds but first they were told to not have fear. There were plenty of things to fear if you were a shepherd. A predator coming after the sheep. Thieves taking opportunity while you are outside of a town. Anything to do with the Roman occupation, especially after the violent burning of the nearby city of Sepphoris. Of course, angels addressing you in the middle of the night would cause some fear too.
Lately in our world there has been a lot to fear. The Paris terrorist attack and the one in San Bernardino has caused those terrorism fears to return. There have been plenty of other terrorist attacks in places like Kenya but this one in Paris we identified with. Then there was California. There is a dramatic increase of gun violence breaking out in random safe places like churches, movie theatres, and schools. If you are a young black man, there is real fear that a police officer will be overly aggressive. This same fear grips the mothers of these young men as well as wives and sisters. Fear is a growing presence. And is sucking the life out of those who desire to live brave.
I will have much more to share about fear over the next several months. I want to start these thoughts though with this article, School Shooting Survivor: How I Stopped Being Afraid. The author, Susie Davis, has much to teach us. But first her story.
“When I was in eighth grade, I witnessed a fellow classmate—a neighbor I had known for years—shoot and kill my teacher with a rifle. For 10 long years after, I waited for God to make the world a safe place. During that decade, I begged God for protection but held on to him in a fragile way, worried that he would let my world implode again without warning.
“By the time I turned 16, I routinely suffered panic attacks. I became acutely aware of violence on the news and in the world. When I was alone at home, I would hide under the kitchen counter with the phone on my ear, anxious about anything I couldn’t see or know.
“The thing about being afraid for a long time is that you get comfortable with it. And before you know it, you start to believe fear itself keeps you safe and prevents bad things from happening. Fear seemed to protect me. I thought that as long as I stayed vigilant, nothing bad would happen.
“I believed in fear. I was addicted to fear. And that became a tool for Satan to push me in the corner, keep me under the counter, and beat me down. I felt hopeless trying to live with a Savior who didn’t keep me safe from bad things—and completely worn out by trying to take care of myself.”
Do you believe that fear itself keeps you safe and prevents bad things from happening? Is this the place fear has taken in your life?
I know moms who wear their fear like it is a badge. They freak out over a news headline or a rumor and loudly proclaim in person and on Facebook their fear saying to the world, “Look at what a good mom I am because I am keeping my kids away from school this day.” Or the helicopter leash is taut and short because of fear and it is justified because “I don’t let my kids be out like that, I’m not that kind of a parent.”
Meanwhile fear is winning. Fear is being justified. Fear is at the root of so many who are trying to control their worlds. The fear is justified if it makes them better mothers or better fathers or better providers or better husbands or better wives as they expend all their energy—and then some more—in an attempt to control their worlds.
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Fear is at the root of the endless running tape in our heads. The tape that says “I am not good enough…
I am not perfect enough…
I am not thin enough…
I am not powerful enough…
I am not successful enough…
I am not smart enough…
I am not certain enough…
I am not safe enough…
Soon shame becomes our friend because we can never do enough to stop this tape.
We can never do enough. There is a lie in that sentence. There are so many great biblical truths we should be standing on in our lives but these truths are shut out because fear is justified because it makes us feel like we are in control. The lie of that wears you out.
From this article, which you should read, Susan Davis gives us some great life tips. “Here are four things that have helped me resist my lifelong impulse for fear, even as our world remains in many ways a scary, unsafe place:
“Understand God designed our physiological and psychological response to trauma. If you or someone you love has experienced trauma, meet with a professional to understand what’s going on in your mind and body.
“Retrain and override your body’s response to triggers. In the same way an athlete trains his body to a specific task, you must train your body to get through the anxious state to a peaceful state. Instead of trying to worry about fears and what-ifs, I had a breakthrough once I focused on God’s Word as ‘active and living’ (Heb. 4:12). I needed to tell myself that God was present and powerful enough to override my responses.
“Be accountable. Community is critical. If you have a fear stronghold, you need truth tellers in your life. Surround yourself with compassionate people who will walk with you in faithful living.
“Reject idolatry. God expects our love and trust. When you choose fear to circumvent trusting God, it becomes an idol. Trusting can be an arduous task amid ‘trials and sorrows’ (John 16:33), but God commands us to trust him for a reason. He hears our worries, concerns, and fears—whether we’re face to face with a shooter or creating scary scenarios in our heads.”
(Thank you, Susie!!!!)
John 16:33 is one of my favorite verses, I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. We are never promised to not have trials and sorrows. Truth is we will have them. But we also get this truth—peace from a supernatural source who is the Truth, the Truth who has overcome everything. Jesus is the Truth who is personally interested in your life.
May Bravester become one of the truth tellers in your life. We are calling out this fear and exposing it for what it is.
It is a lie to knock you out of vulnerability so you miss out on the life you were created for.
Worthiness is your birthright. You were enough the minute you were born.
Trials and sorrows will happen in your life. These will happen and you will not be at fault for many of those times. You are still enough.
You will get through to the other side of this trial or sorrow and you will find joy again.
Are you standing at the crossroad of fear and gratitude? Choose gratitude. Choose thanking God who has overcome the world and promises you peace. You will lose some of this control you’ve worked so hard to maintain. But have you ever really been in control?
Fear not. Be brave. You were enough the minute you were born.
(Photo credit: morgueFile.com)