With Covid-19 craziness swirling around, it seems fear, panic, and worry are beating on the hearts and homes of everyone, demanding that their eerie presence reign free. However, Peyton Garland had the chance to talk with Scarlet Hiltibidal, author of Afraid of All the Things, and she shared how fear, panic, and worry, in light of the Gospel, deserve no presence and have no space to rule our lives:
PEYTON: When I pray, I’m trying my best to envision God, like I’m talking to him face-to-face. So, when fear was the spearhead of your Christianity…do you have an image of the way God was to you versus the way He is now?
SCARLET: Here’s where I’m at in my testimony: I have learned how to fight it, but I still struggle, or the enemy will still try to get me to believe lies about God… I will have seasons where I feel like, ‘Okay, I can live in this place of hope, and I know that God is my loving Father and He’s good. And any suffering that I encounter, or any suffering that I’m afraid of doesn’t change His goodness.’ And then there are other times when I get all mixed up and I’m just like, ‘God I know these things are true, but I feel like my feelings don’t match my belief.’
One big turning point for me was my ectopic pregnancy… It ruptured, and I almost died, and I had to have blood transfusions, and it was this whole thing. And I couldn’t make sense of it because it was so personal. When it was personal to me is when I was like, ‘God are you good?’, so then I kind of had to wrestle with that, and that was a long, hard, dark season. And then I came out on the other side ultimately having this assurance of my faith. I came to the other side thankful—not for the horror of the experience—but that I was able to have this assurance that yes, God is good.
Even when I’m in a situation where I feel like, ‘God, I don’t understand this,’ I’m able to cling to what I know is true of Him through His Word and through my experiences with Him.
PEYTON: You said [in your book], “Everything you’re afraid of has been defeated already. The planet that can be so scary already knows it is broken and the Bible says in Romans 8 that it is crying out to be redeemed. Even the sinkhole knows Jesus is the answer.” When I was making my notes for this, I crossed out sinkhole and put Coronavirus… What [does] it means for you to look back and reflect on your own words right now?
SCARLET: Creation is groaning. I really think Jesus is coming back soon… and it’s just really comforting to pan out. That’s what I have to train myself to do. To remember (It’s just such a phrase you hear from Christians, but it’s true [that]) God is in control of everything and He does have a plan, and we know this by looking at His Word, looking at history, looking at our own lives. I can’t make sense of every single bad thing that’s happened to me, but I do see how God’s worked it together for good.
Like I said, the ectopic pregnancy, I don’t know why death and all that had to happen, but I do know that I was a different human on the other end of that.
What’s better than being assured that we have hope? What’s better than knowing when this is all over…cancer or Coronavirus, any of these things can kill our bodies, but we are part of this faith where we actually believe that death is not death. We actually live forever, and so if I really believe that, then I have to really train my mind to stop staring at the scary stuff and look at God… The more I press into the Lord, the more He zooms me out… The more I press into the Lord, the more I remember I don’t have to solve every conflict and problem that I see in the world.
Even now, after the book has been written and has my name on it, I look at suffering that I know about and I’m like, ‘I have to fix this!’, and then I have to preach to myself, ‘No! You have to look at Jesus Who has fixed everything, big picture, and love Him and enjoy that. And then let that overflow into these painful situations.’
Some of them, I’ll see restoration. Some of them, I probably won’t. Some of them, I may just pray for the rest of my life, which is not nothing, it’s talking to my Creator… Maybe I won’t get to see the fruit of that, but just remembering that God is real, He’s over everything, and through Jesus I can have this relationship with Him. That’s where I find my rest.
PEYTON: Was it scary to not fear ‘fear’ because fear had been such a part of our life? What was that first time where you were able to breathe?
SCARLET: God started to change all these parts of my life…. We pursued a special needs adoption, and it was completely God’s idea. He completely provided. It’s a long story; it’s in the book, but we were on a mission. God had put us on that mission and there was no doubt in our minds that we were supposed to go adopt her. And it was really hard and scary, but it wasn’t scary. It was like I was protected in this bubble of peace, and so, learning how to lower my defenses and be like, “God, tell me what to do. Use me.’ That’s where I learned to find peace.
PEYTON: What would you say to people right now in the midst of all the crazy [who have] anxiety, depression, and OCD? What would you say to people when they feel like they’re down-spiraling?
SCARLET: Maybe you are living in isolation, and we were designed to live in community to spur one another on and encourage one another. So, I would say to people who are in this time, which is everyone in the world, (How crazy?!), we are all suffering in some way. We are all suffering, whether it’s you work on the frontlines and you’re a medical professional, or you love someone who has just passed away from the Coronavirus. I mean, it’s just like this worldwide pain that we are all walking through.
I would say [that] Jesus’ prescription is prayer… Prayer is not nothing… And I think you can’t really experience that if you’re doing what I tend to do sometimes and distracting yourself with as many things as you can to feel comforted, rather than turning to the Source and being vulnerable with Him and listening to Him and reading the convicting words of Jesus…
Don’t be afraid of His Word. I spent years being afraid of His Word, and it’s the only source of peace that is real peace… If you have extra time, if you’re home more, [then] what an opportunity we have to read more and study more [of] Who God is in His Word.
PEYTON: If fear were personified and you had to sit in a room with him, what would you tell him?
SCARLET: I feel very aware of my weakness… [but] when I feel overcome by it and I know it’s not from the Lord, sometimes it’ll happen in the middle of the night… I don’t have any words. I just say ‘Jesus’ because I know there’s power in the name of Jesus. And His Word promises that the Holy Spirit will intercede for us when we don’t know what to say…
God’s Word is our sword, right? So, I will often quote Scripture when I’m feeling that fear.
About Scarlet Hiltibidal
Scarlet Hiltibidal is the author of Afraid of All the Things and He Numbered the Pores on My Face. She writes monthly columns for ParentLife Magazine and LifeWay Voices, and enjoys speaking to women around the country about the freedom and rest available in Jesus. Scarlet has a degree in biblical counseling and taught elementary school before she started writing. She and her husband live in Nashville, where she loves signing with her three daughters, eating nachos by herself, writing for her friends, and studying stand-up comedy with a passion that should be reserved for more important pursuits.