It rained last month in San Diego. As is usually the case, TV journalists were on the scene, standing in front of puddles and cautioning drivers everywhere. In our family, wet weather means my husband can’t ride his bike to work, so we all pile into the family car to drop him off then bring my oldest to his elementary school.
We were in a good mood that day, joking around and jamming along to radio tunes in the background, when my four year old son Henry started screaming in alarm. A mom can tell when a scream is for fun, and when a scream is for real. This one was for real. I kept my hands on the wheel and Max whipped around in his passenger seat.
Henry was leaning as far away from his window as his car seat would allow him to. “A BEE!” His volume was at doomsday level. “Get it off, get it off,” he begged. Max inspected the window and declared the bee to be outside of the car. “He’s just hanging on for a ride, buddy. Touch it, you’ll see! It can’t hurt you.”
I stole a glance at him in the rear view mirror. His whole body relaxed. He leaned towards the window and touched the window pane on the other side of the bee’s body. “Hello, bee!” he said in a sing-song voice. “How are you? Tickle, tickle! Where are you going?”
As soon as he was assured that the bee would cause him no harm, his fear turned into playful curiosity. His whole posture changed, the tension leaving his body. It was such a quick and dramatic shift, Max and I couldn’t help but laugh.
It got me thinking about fear in my own life. How often do I react in panic or anxiety when I am faced with uncertainty, with loss of control? When the storms of life are raging all around me, do I give way to fear or do I cling tighter to the anchor of my soul?
The disciples had good reason to fear the literal storm around them. Their boat was being swamped by the angry waves, and they believed that they were all going to perish that day. Where was Jesus in all this? He was asleep in the boat. He was sleeping not because he didn’t care for his disciples, but because he was knew who was in control. And when he woke up, he rebuked the winds and the sea, and all was calm.
“What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?” they marveled (Mt. 8:27)
Our God is the one who created all things, who is in control of all things. Nothing happens in your life that takes him by surprise, not that diagnosis, not that lost job, not that scary decision you need to make. The antidote to fear is faith; faith that we have a Good God, a God who walks with you no matter the circumstances, a loving God who holds your life and the whole world in His hands.
Ah, but isn’t it easy just to say “Have more faith!” when we are dealing with gut wrenching fear? Wouldn’t it be nice if we all had a switch that, when flipped, would change our mindset from fear to faith in a matter of seconds?
No, I don’t believe it’s that simple to overcome our fear. Tapping into our faith instead of our fear is a daily struggle, sometimes hourly. Here are three practices that have helped me:
At the risk of sounding obvious or cliche, I do think there is value in admitting your fear to God. Being honest with your feelings and symbolically laying them at the feet of Jesus is a necessary first step in going forward. Go ahead and put all of your “what ifs” out there. He can handle it all; there isn’t one worst-case scenario that’s going to take Him by surprise.
Make a mental list, or on pen and paper if it helps, of all the ways God has provided for you in your life. Write down all the ways you’ve experienced his grace, his mercy, his healing, his protection in your life. Look at all the ways He has taken care of you! Do you really believe He will abandon you now?
The truth is that God has invited you to participate in His grand story of redemption. Your life is not about you, it’s about the part you’re playing in His story. Whatever happens in this situation that is causing you fear, whether it’s the worst-case scenario or one of the “what ifs” you thought of, or something in between, be assured of this: God will redeem all of it for His good purposes.
May you lean into the promise of his unending love. May you take comfort in God’s promises and his purpose. May you trust God enough to approach your fearful situation with curiosity and hope, just like that bee on the other side of the window.
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