Historically I spent much of my life as a worry wart, my Grandma Joy said I came by it honestly, so I grew accustomed to seeking out scripture passages and stories about God saving. I looked up verses about God rescuing people from danger, destruction, and tragedy, and God used passages to bring me peace. A few years ago our family was facing a great amount of uncertainty and this verse flew out of the page at me:
“I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears,” (Psalm 34:4).
Right now in our world, situations seem to change by the day, if not by the minute, and I’m dramatically reminded of this verse and what God taught me through it. We’re in a time when we’re acutely aware that we have no idea what the future holds and it can be easy to let our imaginations, read fear here, run a bit -- wild.
Because of my tendency to worry about pretty much anything, I became entirely comfortable asking God to deliver me from all sorts of real or imagined impending doom. I was confident in God’s ability and desire to deliver me from all sorts of disasters, but I realized I was completely unfamiliar with asking God to deliver me from my fears of disaster.
Hear me -- He wants to free us from fear! From the feelings fear brings. From the worry. From the thoughts. From the temptation to calculate the various what ifs for ourselves. God wants to free us from all our fears.
God designed us to be in relationship with Him and has absolutely no desire for His children to live in fear. In fact, we can see plainly in Psalm 34 that He sees fear as a form of bondage. How can you be granted freedom from something that doesn’t have a hold on you?
Fear is a prison. It locks us up. Fear steals our ability to move about willingly and it affects our relationships, especially our relationship with God. Fear acts like a wall with a barbed wire fence on top, creating a barrier between us and the only One we should be relying on to protect us.
When we’re operating inside of fear instead of inside of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7), it’s like we run ourselves up against those walls of “what if” and bounce right back where we started. Or worse, we get knocked into another wall showing us a different angle on our fear and we keep getting flung around until we’re worn out. But we’re still there. Trapped. What if I get sick? What if he doesn’t come home? What if she dies? What if there’s an accident? What if….?
Even if none of those things actually happen, we still bounce around like a pinball inside of the scenarios we have plotted out in our minds. It’s not to say bad things won’t or can’t happen. Sometimes they absolutely do. But it is to say that God’s power, His love, and His ability to grant us with a sound mind are the environment He designed us to live in.
Even so, we often reject His blueprint and construct our own prison out of fear under the auspices of felt safety. We think if we can get a handle over every possibility by taking them each to their logical (or more often illogical) ends, so then we won’t be caught off guard. I’ll just build this wall up so nothing surprises me. But living inside our own suppositions isn’t God’s will for us.
Instead of a pinball-style prison built of fear where we keep bouncing off our own anxiety, God wants to release us so we can dwell in wide open spaces:
“He brought me out to a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me,” (Psalm 18:19).
The problem is that often, God’s love and goodness are much harder to perceive than our own doubts and concerns. It takes a work of the Holy Spirit for us to comprehend what God has for us (Ephesians 3), but only a work of our own imagination to discredit it. So what do we do? Exactly what the psalmist said. We pray to the Lord. We ask Him to free us from all our fears. We move forward in His love with a sound mind and by His power. We ask Him to tear down the walls of our fear-shaped prison to reveal the expanse of His love just on the other side.