Have you ever been truly afraid?
I mean, I used to say I was afraid of spiders. And to a point, I still really dislike them for sure. I’ll probably jump, run away, scream and the likes. However, I was at my most fearful when I was faced with having high dose chemotherapy. Part of having an autologous stem cell transplant meant being an inpatient at hospital for a couple of weeks. I received higher doses of chemotherapy which effectively wiped out my immune system. Before being admitted, I was told about the drugs and all the possible side effects my body may or may not experience. Then it was a case of watching and waiting.
My consultant said that the chemotherapy I had before was ‘no walk in the park’. But high dose chemotherapy would need managing by a medical team to help me through. I was afraid about all that I would have to go through. On top of Covid-19, I would not be allowed to have visitors and I’d be in my own room to be relatively isolated from others because of the risk of infection. It was a terrifying and lonely experience.
In that time, I would often imagine how Jesus felt knowing His crucifixion was imminent and that all of his closest friends would desert him. He was overwhelmed with sorrow and if there was a way for Him not to suffer in this way, He asked the Father for this suffering to be taken. But He responded in surrender: ‘not my will but yours be done.’
There are points in our life where we finally realise that we are not really in control of our life. Health concerns are one way to bring that truth to the front and centre of reality. God is not a distant, uninterested deity unfamiliar with pain and suffering. He faced it with all of the mental anguish and physical distress that comes with it. Like Jesus, we can also surrender our suffering and fear to Him.
Many times in the Bible God says ‘do not fear’. I don’t believe that’s a call to never experience fear. Rather, it reminds us of who to look to and why. Isaiah 41:10 says, ‘Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.’ God is with us, He strengthens us, helps us and upholds us. One of the verses that I thought upon a lot when I was afraid was this:
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.Psalm 56:3
This verse acknowledges the fact that I am afraid, but it also shows me what to do.
Trust Him with whatever it is that is making you fearful. He promises to be with His people, to comfort them, to help them, to console them and so, so much more. American President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.” That assessment for Christians is found in knowing God’s love is more powerful than fear, for perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). We can take heart and have courage in whatever we face because the Lord is with us. We can trust Him with our fears and worries.
Let’s put out the fire of fear with the water of the Word of God.