June Hunt: How to Conquer Your Fears
Well, now you know - the world ends on December 21, 2012. That's the final date of the Mayan Long Count Calendar. This date strikes fear in the hearts of millions who believe the end of their calendar signifies the cataclysmic end of the world.
The history of predicted and expected "last day" dates is nearly as lengthy as modern history itself. Mostly recently, the world was predicted to end on May 2011. Why are so many gripped with dread over apocalyptic predictions? This is most likely because of our basic, human tendency to fear the unknown.
Fear is a strong, emotional reaction to a perceived, imminent danger. Fear can be real or imagined, rational or irrational, normal or abnormal. Fear acts as a protective mechanism - placed within us by God - to activate our physical "defense systems" when we face serious danger. Ultimately, fear triggers the release of adrenaline in the body, which prepares us for a fight, flight or freeze response.
While fear is a natural emotion designed by our Creator, fearfulness is a different story. Fearfulness suggests living in a continual state of fear, and that is not how God intended His children to live.
My friend Ellen, a mature Christian leader with years of Bible training, understood this fearful state all too well. "Each time I enter a dark room, I'm stricken with fear," she confided. "I've prayed and asked God to remove the fear, but it's still there. I know it's irrational. Why would a mature woman have such a childish fear?"
Why, indeed? As I gently probed, I learned that Ellen, the youngest of four, had been forced as a child by her siblings to enter a dark room in search of her missing doll. Ellen's brother and sisters had strung the doll in the middle of the room, using yards of invisible thread. If she wanted her doll back, Ellen had to venture into the room alone. After a few steps, she became entangled like a fly in a spider's web. Panicked, she thrashed and lunged, grasping in the dark for her beloved doll. By the time she'd retrieved "Thumbelina," Ellen was terrified.
Flash forward 40 years. Ellen desired to walk in faith, not fear. To do so, she'd need to understand that "fear is in the mindthinking before she could quell her fears.
Interestingly, God never assumes that we will live without fear. In fact, His Word specifically addresses fear by telling us to say, "When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You" (Psalm 56:3 NASB). Notice, this verse does not say "if," but "when" - "When I am afraid." Yes, undeniably there will be times when you and I will be afraid ... God knows this will be true. However, we need not be consumed by fear.
When you find yourself in fear-producing situations, try this practical project that helped Ellen conquer her fear of the dark:
Imagine a grassy, pastoral scene where Jesus is very near. Start with verse one of Psalm 23 (NKJV): "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want." Repeat the first phrase over and over, but each time, take a deep breath and slowly emphasize a different word. For example, say ...
THE Lord is my Shepherd ...
The LORD is my Shepherd ...
The Lord is MY Shepherd ...
The Lord is my SHEPHERD, I shall not want.
Meditate on the implications of each emphasized word.
For the remainder of the Psalm, say each verse five times ... slowly.
Verse 2: "He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside still waters." (Imagine yourself lying down beside a calm pool of water.)
Verse 3: "He restores my soul; He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake." (Take several deep breaths and slowly say five times, "He - Restores - My - Soul." Each time emphasize a different word.)
Verse 4: "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me." (Realize that you are not trapped. Slowly say, "I will fear no evil, You - Are - With - Me." Repeat these words five times.)
Verse 5: "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over."
Verse 6: "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever." (Thank the Lord for the way He will use each fearful situation for good in your life.)
In a few weeks of consistently applying this exercise, you, like Ellen, will be amazed at the transformation. You will see your fear change to faith, and even panic will be replaced with peace.
Instead of wrongly focusing on "the end of the world," you can rightly focus on the end of your fear. By using the powerful Word of God in this way and by focusing on the true Prince of Peace, you will be able to say, "I sought the LORD, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears" (Psalm 34:4 NKJV).
June Hunt, counselor, author, radio host and founder of the worldwide ministry Hope For The Heart, offers a biblical perspective while coaching people through some of life's most difficult problems. June is the author of How to Forgive . . . When You Don't Feel Like It, © 2007 Harvest House Publishers. Learn more about June and Hope for the Heart by visiting hopefortheheart.org/CP. Here you can connect with June on Facebook and Twitter, listen to her radio broadcasts, or find much-needed resources. Hope for the Heart provides spiritual guidance, heartfelt prayer, multi-media resources, and biblical wise-counseling. Call 1-800-488-HOPE (4673) to visit with a Hope Care Representative, 7:30 a.m. until 1:30 a.m. (CST).
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