Is there something that scares you? Snakes? Elevators? Heights? Clowns? Public speaking? Death? Fear is powerful. Fear is consuming. Left unchecked it can grip like a vice and squeeze until we can’t function or even breathe. For those who give in, they’re dragged down to dark pits of extreme hysteria.
I was on a flight to Florida recently. The woman behind me was hyperventilating because she had such an intense fear of flying. The problem was that the cabin door hadn’t even been closed yet––we were on the ground with passengers still boarding. Yet just being on the plane and anticipating the flight ahead evoked sheer panic. She had flown before. She never had a bad experience on a flight. No close calls with death. No sudden drops in altitude or air pressure. But she was terrified. Her fear was real.
The passenger seated next to her tried to console her. The stewardess let her know that she could still get off the plane if she wanted to. It wasn’t too late. But between short breaths the woman declined saying she had to get to Florida. So the man across the aisle began to pray over her.
Slowly, the woman’s frantic breathing calmed. Her sobs subsided. She was quiet.
And then the stewardess announced that the cabin door was closed. Fear rang out again. We taxied toward the runway and prepared for takeoff. As the plane jettisoned off the ground and took flight, I was praying for the woman. I prayed that she would be enveloped in God’s unmistakable peace and comfort. That His presence would consume her, not fear.
And then I prayed that I would get a sense of what this woman was feeling so that I could better understand her fear and know specifically how to pray for her.
It’s important to know that I love to fly. I love the feeling at takeoff when the plane goes airborne and heads for the sky. I love the view from the window as the plane rises over the countryside and the patchwork of farms and forest emerges. I love the sense of adventure and freedom of flying. But on this day, as I prayed to feel this woman’s fear, I was nauseous. An unexplainable anxiety welled up as my heartbeat raced and my palms became sweaty. It was awful. And shocking. I praised the Lord for answering my prayer. And I praised Him that this fear was temporary.
The woman was quiet for the next two hours of our flight as she gripped the armrests for dear life and sat motionless. But as we began our approach and the plane turned left and right to line up with the runway, she began losing it. Literally. Over and over she threw up into her airbag and the passengers around her scrambled to get additional bags.
I began praying for her again. But this time I didn’t ask to feel what she felt.
Our fears may not make sense to other people. They may not make sense to us. But they’re real. They’re physically and emotionally draining. And they can so incapacitate us that we lose out on the amazing things happening around us. We dread what lies ahead and all we can focus on is the heart-gripping fear and the adrenaline-pulsing anxiety that suck every ounce of life out of us.
Maybe we fear telling the truth. Maybe we fear something we’re supposed to do. Maybe we fear our past and what would happen if people found out where we’ve been. Maybe we fear not being in control of a situation, like flying.
Regardless of our fears, God can deliver us and restore our strength. Our fears can be completely washed away so they bind us no more. How? Because God is peace, Jehovah-shalom. And peace and fear cannot co-exist. If we surrender to God instead of fear, we will rest in His peace.
Lay your fears out before God. Ask Him to come and fill you with His presence, His peace. Trust in His power of deliverance. Walk forward with Him. And if fear ever starts to well up again, go straight to God and ask for His peace again. Trust in His power of deliverance again. Walk forward with Him again.
God is peace. He is the truth and hope that overcomes fear. No matter what your fear is.
“I sought the LORD, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4
May I pray?
Lord, we may joke about some of the things we’re afraid of. But sometimes we have deep-seeded fears that go down into the core of our being. Those fears can wrap us in physical trauma that we can’t explain. Father, I pray that anyone living in fear today will come to You and lay those fears out before You. Help them acknowledge their fears so they can make the decision to turn from fear and take refuge in You instead. By Your power, fill them with Your peace. May their fears be transformed into praise for You. Amen.
Q4U: What do you fear and why?