Let’s talk about fear. First, let’s remove shame because we all struggle with fear. Fear comes in many forms: anxiety, worry, alarm, panic, distress, dread, unease. God wants to set us free from fear and He will use trials to prove His faithfulness. Even when the worst-case scenario happens, God is near and able to help us in our distress.
“They will not live in fear or dread of what may come, for their hearts are firm, ever secure in their faith. Steady and strong they will not be afraid, but will calmly face their every foe until they all go down in defeat.” Psalm 112:7-8
My Reoccurring Nightmare
I had a recurring dream for most of my adult life. I dreamt I’d given birth to a tiny, premature baby, and the helpless babe would evaporate in front of my eyes.
Gone. My baby was gone.
I’d wake up after each nightmare convinced I had just delivered a baby. It was otherworldly and scared me to death and filled me with dread.
Fear is like that: it lurks in our dreams.
Imagine my horror when I went into preterm labor at 31 weeks with our third child. These were no Braxton Hicks contractions; it was the real deal, and I was terrified. I raced to the doctor's office, and they placed me on a monitor immediately. The readings confirmed my deepest fear. I was going to deliver a tiny infant. It was too soon. Images from my nightmares flooded my head and paralyzed me. I had never told anyone about the nightmares, and that day I was sure they would come to pass.
I was hospitalized to be monitored and strong drugs were administered to stop the contractions. The irony was that I was to remain still, while the medicine made my heart race like I was running a marathon.
The doctors performed tests to see what was causing the extra amniotic fluid. The Doctor spoke in hushed tones as serious potential outcomes were discussed about the health of our baby. I was sent home for six weeks of bed rest as the goal was to get me to 37 weeks gestation.
Friends from church and family rallied to support our family of four. Meals were brought in, and the kids were shuttled to school and grandma’s house while my husband tried to hold everyone and everything together.
The contractions never stopped, and I never quit praying. What mattered most is how many contractions I had each hour. My husband would count, and we’d call the hospital if necessary. I can’t tell you how many times each week we’d come dangerously close to the allotted amount of contractions and then they would stop. Only God.
I didn’t stop having contractions those six wintry weeks, and I never ceased petitioning God. I would spend hours pouring over God’s Word. I read all the scripture about fear, I rehearsed the promises of God’s protection, and I remembered God's faithfulness to me. I willed my baby to grow as I ate and prayed. It was all I could do. I was allowed up to shower and use the restroom and that was it for each day.
The days dragged on slowly as my heart raced from the medication, yet I was to remain still. It was during this season I learned to focus on the truth of God’s Word instead of wallowing in my fear. This invaluable lesson would serve me powerfully for the rest of my days.
At 37 weeks I got up from bed rest, did a Target run to get all the baby stuff and showed signs of early labor that evening. Our son was born the next day at 10 pm. He was born at 37 weeks, weighing a whopping 9 pounds 1 ounce, and he was perfectly healthy.
My greatest fear never came to pass and God answered my prayers in a most profound, abundant way.
What is it about fear? It wraps itself around us and nearly chokes us to death, and often the thing we fear most never happens. And sometimes it does.
God often allows us to face our fears so He can show Himself faithful! How will we ever experience the faithfulness of God if our faith isn’t tested?
I will never lose sight of your love for me. Your faithfulness has steadied my steps.” Psalm 26:3
The refining season is used to increase our faith. Our faith grows when we exercise it. The only way to exercise is to use it. The only way to use it is when we’re in trouble. Let’s be honest, most of us don’t call on God until we need Him.
How Do We Stand Firm When We’re Afraid?
How do we become firm in our faith, and secure in who God says He is when we’re afraid?
We must shift our focus. We have to shift from fear to the attributes of God.
The truth of who God is must become greater than our fear.
We control our thoughts by choosing to think about what is good, pleasing, and perfect.
We rehearse God’s faithfulness to us in the past.
We remove any faulty views of God from our thinking.
We practice believing for something we can’t see; it’s called faith.
When we are faced with fear in our lives, it’s a chance to change the dialogue. Instead of rehearsing all things which can go wrong, we need to concentrate on all God is doing, will do, and can do for us. His faithfulness becomes our shield to combat fear.
Dear God, I need to remember You care about me when I’m afraid. You haven’t left me or abandoned me, even when I feel like You have. You are allowing me to trust You when I’m afraid so You can show Yourself faithful to me. I want to respond differently. I want to believe You are near, so please help me to do that. Help me shift my focus to the truth of who You are.
Are you still struggling?
Maybe this will help.
I’ve created a free worksheet to help you through your own refining season. Click on the image below and leave your name and email so I know where to send it.