What To Do With Fear

"Be strong and courageous....with us is the LORD our God to help us and to fight our battles." 
-2 Chronicles 32:7b

I've struggled with fear for quite a few years now. It's funny, because when I was a teenager, fear wasn't really something that I identified myself with. In fact, I really enjoyed taking risks. My best friend and I had a notebook full of all the crazy things we wanted to do before we graduated. Things like take a late night walk across the highest train bridge in our area. Drive her car as fast as it could go... In fact, maybe it was my car accident that first made me realize I wasn't invincible... and allowed fear to grab hold. I remember being surprised by my own fear when Bryan and I were first married. We went cliff jumping up in Lake Superior. I had never hesitated to jump off cliffs even higher than the one we were on, but for some reason I found myself gripped with fear. I jumped anyway... but I just didn't enjoy it the way that I used to.

Sometime in college, I remember my fear sort of settling on one specific thing... death. Suddenly I couldn't go to sleep at night without fears of dying myself, or of the ones I loved dying. It became such a strong oppressive force over me. No matter how much I reminded myself that as a Christian, I know death has NO victory. NO sting... I still couldn't shake that frightened feeling.

I would pray over it, usually receive some relief and fall asleep. But each night the fear would return. I went on like this for many years. One night in South Africa, we heard a loud crash and then our security alarm system went off. It was about 2 in the morning when our alarm siren started. We jolted up in bed and checked the control panel. It was showing movement in our downstairs passage. Fear gripped me as Bryan told me to grab Peyton and duck behind the bed. We waited as the movement lights continued to flash and the siren continued to sound. We waited for the local guards to arrive. I remember crouching there, realizing that at any second someone could come through that door and could take our lives. I remember praying and crying out to God with my baby in my arms, unsure of whether or not these would be my last moments. I've never felt so paralyzed. Bryan barricaded the door and grabbed a lamp. We'd been told so many stories of crime happening in our area, so we knew our fears were far from unfounded. Finally after what seemed like forever, the guards showed up. It turned out that our TV had fallen off the table and caused the alarm system to sound. We were flooded with relief... but as I went to sleep that night, I couldn't help but think that it could've been so much more than just a fluke.

After I had Britany I remember my fear once again taking hold. I lay in bed each night for weeks, paralyzed by my fears.

One morning, on the way to church I told Bryan that I needed freedom from this fear. I felt that if I didn't get freedom soon, the fear would crush me. I had prayed and prayed, but somehow fear still seemed to always creep back in. That same morning at church I asked God for freedom during the worship service. The sermon was good, but I couldn't remain focused. After the message, we stood for the final worship song. My pastor took the mic, and prayed a closing prayer. After he said "amen", he paused as if thinking deeply. Suddenly he looked back out into the congregation and asked the ministry team to come up to be available for prayer. Then he spoke into the mic: 

"Someone here struggles with fear." 
I froze. He seemed to be looking at me. (I'd like to add that I've never met my pastor before. We've only been going to this church a few months, and I've never actually had a conversation with him) 
Again he spoke: 
"...specifically the fear of death. You can't even sleep at night you are so gripped with this fear. You lay awake at night paralyzed. But God doesn't want you to be fearful anymore. God wants to give you freedom." 

Without saying a word, Bryan took Britany from my arms. Tears streamed down my face as I was overwhelmed with the mercy of God and His great love for me. I practically ran to the front of the sanctuary. I reached out to a woman on the ministry team and could barely speak. I was able to say, "That's me. He's talking about me" but really nothing more. The sweet woman called over another woman and the two of them prayed over me. I was so shaken, in a good way. "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil." 

Now, when I am faced with fear, I am reminded of the great love and mercy of a God who reached out to me. He doesn't want me to fear. He spoke to my pastor that morning because He wanted me to know that He cares. He doesn't want me to live my life in fear--rather He desires that I might be free.

"Sometimes faith is the absence of fear. Other times faith may be choosing to believe God even when your heart is melting with fear. Perhaps, then, faith is tested by what we do with fear--not by whether or not we have it." (Beth Moore, Breaking Free Study)


Emily said...

That's an amazing story. God is amazing and it's so great to see Him working so clearly in our lives, showing us He's there to protect us.
I've battled the same kind of fear. Not able to sleep at night fearing someone would come into my room and I would conjure up the most detailed scenarios keeping me from sleeping for hours, only to wake up in nightmares.

Satan definitely knows our weaknesses and holds onto them to use when we least expect it, but what a comfort to know God is there ready and more than able to fight that battle for us, proving He alone is enough to give us the peace we need.

Leigh said...

Claire this is amazing. I had never heard this story before, but it is incredible. I love how God spoke to you like this, and you can hang on to that now any time you feel fear. You can hang on to this to share with your girls too to help them know the way God speaks directly into fear.
Love you, thank you for sharing this.....

Callie Nicole said...

What a beautiful story, Claire! How special that the Lord spoke to your pastor specifically to give you encouragement!

Ria @ Life as a Wife! said...

Claire... praise God for victory in that area. That story blessed me. The enemy is so insane like that... he will do anything to get at us.

Bless you sweet one!

Sarah Heineman said...

Beautiful story Claire... makes me cry. God is so faithful to take our fear and give us peace and strength. Your faith is GROWING in this time :) Praise Jesus!

Olga said...

Awe lady!!! What an incredible story! GOD is so good!

Am a new follower here... just getting lost in your precious blog!

God bless!