Those of us who suffer with depression or who have suffered with it in the past know how overwhelmingly one can be swept away in a flood of severely dark emotions. Last month our “percolations” revolved around worry and anxiety contributing to the agony that consumes one in the depths of depression (click here to view that article). Another component which entangles the mind in a web of destructive thoughts is fear. Often a gateway question to fear, worry and anxiety is the “What if…” question. It moves through the mind igniting a string of frightening projections whose endings are always fraught with sorrow, fear and/or negative connotations. Questions like, “What if I never get better?” or “What if something terrible happens to my children?” or “What if something happens and I can’t handle it?” The questions can be very specific to one’s situation and the thoughts that follow can start an avalanche of fearful thoughts. Sometime this way of thinking may not be easily recognized because its familiarity has become a permanent fixture in our thought processes. It just leaves one with a feeling of low-grade apprehension and/or sadness. Of course, this is not the fear of God, recognizing Him as the Almighty with reverence and awe, esteeming Him above all others in majesty and power (Ecclesiastes12:13). This is the fear which exists because of the thought or actuality of a loss of control over circumstances. We also want the security of knowing how everything is supposed to work out. When it doesn’t or we can’t see how it can, alarm and dread become our companions. Satan, the father of lies, would like us to believe that we are secure in our ability to control situations and people. It is an illusion he created to get us to trust in something other than God. So when the “what if…” questions arise, our perceived security falters and our thoughts, motives and eventual actions become based in fearfulness rather than the boldness of a child of God trusting Him to see us through.
In Matthew 14:22-33 Peter and the apostles had trouble placing their trust in Jesus’ power instead of what they knew from their own experiences and knowledge of natural law. They could not imagine Jesus walking on the sea and fear overtook them. Even though they had seen Him earlier calm the wind and the sea with the words, “Peace! Be still!” their fear was a manifestation of their trust located in something other than God’s power (Mark 4:39). And when Peter was distracted by the power of the wind instead of focusing on Christ’s power to safely draw him to Jesus, he began to sink. But just like He was there as Peter was sinking into the waters the strong wind had whipped up, Jesus is still there reminding us, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid”(Matthew 14:27).
Jesus left us the strengthening Spirit of God in our hearts (Ephesians 3:16) and the powerful Word of God to guide us (Romans 1:16). We are not left alone, but have the Almighty Father to depend upon and see us through any trial or challenge, real or falsely perceived.
To increase our trust in Him and break down the stronghold of fear we need to interrupt that “what if…” cycle of those ominous, frightening thoughts. With much prayer and directed, determined focus on God’s truth, those fears can lose their power, no longer controlling our thoughts, emotions, motives and actions.
“Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord” (Proverbs 16:20).
When challenged with the “What if….?” questions, examine them and take a minute to see how many of them project a happy, pleasant, God-blessed solution. If most likely all of them are bringing out fearfulness, they need to be taken captive and not entertained for a moment more (2 Corinthians 10:5).
There are several verses with directives to choose from below. When strongly repeated often, they help to embed in our hearts and minds courage and dependency on God’s will and power. (Click here for June Divine Percolations printable)
Isaiah 41:10 (ESV)
“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.”
I believe God’s promise of His power, strength and help.
I have courage to stand strong.
I am secure in waiting for the Lord while I serve Him knowing He is with me.
Joshua 1:9 (ESV)
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Just like Joshua, I can be confident and brave in facing anything that comes my way because God is with me as I follow Him.
Romans 8:28 (KJV)
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
I am fully assured that no matter what comes my way, God will work it out in the way that is best for His reasons even when I may not fully understand them.
“The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?”
I depend whole-heartedly on God to protect my soul and His light to guide my way. I draw on God’s strength giving me drive and endurance.
Psalm 46:1-3 (ESV)
“God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,”
Regardless of any sudden real or imagined calamity, I face it with indomitable trust in the Lord’s power to get me through it.
1 John 4:4 (ESV)
“Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”
My confidence in God’s victory and might keeps my chin up and gives me boldness to increase my faith in Him.
Ephesians 3:14-16 (ESV)
“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,”
I rejoice in the power of the Spirit within me to strengthen and encourage me. I can defeat any fears which would rob me of my reliance on the Almighty. This joy lights up my eyes and blesses others around me.
“When I am afraid,
I put my trust in you.”
Although I may feel afraid, I put my complete faith in God’s ability to see me through any and all circumstances. In this I can have gladness of heart!
Matthew 14:27 (ESV)
“But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”
When the situation seems frightening, I stand tall and become more diligent in keeping my eyes focused on Christ Jesus.
Even though fears may tempt me to believe that the Lord is not working to help me, I am fully assured and confident that He knows what is needed and wants the ultimate best for me.
Philippians 4:13 (ESV)
“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
What the Lord requires of me, I am completely capable and empowered by Him to do. No matter what may try to stop me, I heartily do with all my might.
Ephesians 3:20-21 (NKJV)
“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
Though I don’t understand the details of how God works, I am thoroughly convinced of His abilities to do more than I can imagine in ways I might not see. Knowing this I am filled with a cheerful determination to continue glorifying Jesus Christ.
By Cheri Deaver
Cheri is wife to Weylan Deaver who preaches at the Sherman Drive Church of Christ in Denton, Texas. She is mother to Orrin, Lacey, Lexie and Ethan, as well as a new mother-in-law to Aubrie Deaver. She is blessed beyond measure for which God has so richly provided.