Fear is a wilderness where the wild things live. Creatures hide in the forests of our trials, watching, waiting. They are our untamed thoughts teamed up with awful circumstances and attacking us savagely. We might question God, his Word, his character, our ability to hear from Him and our own mental status. The ferocious beasts which assault us from within and without are lasered onto one goal- steal, kill and destroy.
Whenever your God-given joy, peace and power are at stake, you know you’re in a dogfight with the enemy. Any time I’m being driven by a fear-related emotion it’s going to be a tough trip. A journey through a dark time is painful enough. Allowing fear to be my guide makes it worse. In my last post I shared a couple strategies to help you re-establish yourself when you sense fear is controlling you to any degree. Here’s a couple more I hope will help.
- Discern whether you should fight or take flight.
Physically, fear triggers our God-given “fight or flight” response so that we may survive dangerous circumstances. Chemicals are released that enable us to run or to stay and launch a counter attack. The problem is, most of our modern-day battles are not with an enemy soldier or a wild animal. Our conflicts consist of things like family dysfunction, joblessness, divorce, church strife, sickness and disease and other circumstances that create a fear response in us.
Although we might like to use our fear-induced energy to pop someone in the nose or blow something up, those options aren’t usually available to us. Consequently, we make a habit of stuffing down everything we feel inside when we are frightened. Physical problems like ulcers, jaw pain, muscle cramps, headaches and other physical symptoms you might not associate with fear, start to manifest.
Rather than stifling your response, cry out to God and ask him whether this is someplace you stand and wage war or leave it behind in the dust. What that looks like depends on your personality and need. At times, during a panic attack, saying verses out loud and singing worship songs only agitated me further. I needed to go into a quiet place with God and mentally escape the frightening circumstances. In a traffic jam, for example, I took deep breaths in and out saying something like “I’m breathing in all the fruit of the Holy Spirit and breathing out all the work of the flesh and my enemy.” On rocky airplane rides, I’d disappear into a land of peaceful instrumental worship songs via digital devices and headphones. These techniques slowed my heartbeat and other physical responses and I basically flew away and filled my mind with good things.
There are other situations though, when I stand and fight. I march around, dance, shout and sing praise songs, clap my hands and let the enemy know that I’m pushing back hard against the fear stronghold he’s trying to establish in my life. I call up memorized verses and songs to fling back at him. After a time, I end up, emotionally, in a completely different place than where I started.
If you’re in a long-term challenge, ask God to give you specific techniques to execute your fight or flight response. Don’t ignore it, use it.
“When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.” Psalm 94:19
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you, he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deut. 31:6
- Guard your tongue
How does Satan know what you’re afraid of? He watches your actions and listens to your words. I could kick myself for all the years I created to do lists for my enemy by repeatedly stating all the things that scared me, made me anxious, etc. He takes note every time we say something like “I’m so afraid that…. I’m so stressed about…… I can’t sleep at night because I’m so worried about….”
Don’t shove feelings down and pretend you aren’t afraid. Instead, be genuine about what you’re feeling, framed by what is true about God and your relationship with Him. Nowadays, I say things like, “I’m so tempted to be fearful about_____________ but I know God is good, and His hand is good towards me. He will keep me, provide for me, heal me and comfort me.” I make very specific statements based on what I’m up against and using scriptures as my talking points. I stole the idea from Psalm 43:5 “Why, my soul, are you so downcast?” I’m talking to my soul, the seat of my mind, will and emotions, and leading it back to a place of peaceful faith. Frankly, I’m just getting too old to keep burning up organs in my body with unresolved emotional stuff and wasting my years on earth out of step with God.
Some days, you might need to do a come to Jesus with your soul a hundred times. Do it. It’s worth it.
Changing a fearful mind to a peaceful one is laborious but it is God’s best will for us. There are so many anointed Christian books that share numerous strategies for this war. Get online and find one that’s right for you. Here are two of my favorites:
“The Battlefield of the Mind” by Joyce Meyer- this is one of her older books but a true powerhouse in lining up your thoughts with God’s character and word.
“Hinds Feet on High Places” by Hannah Hurnard- a beautiful allegory about a little lamb named “Much-afraid” and her journey with the Good Shepherd.