Fear is a powerful emotion that some say can actually paralyze you - putting you in total "stall mode" while the world moves on around you. If you have ever experienced that heart-pounding, sweaty palms, shaky legs kind of fear, you know just how many scenarios run through head making it almost impossible to exercise clear or rational thought at that moment. Fear produces an anxiety response physically - it just isn't this emotional upheaval going on inside our heads.
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. I trust God, so I am not afraid of what people can do to me! I praise God for his promise to me. (Psalm 56:3-4 ERV)
Scripture comes complete with stories of men and women in positions of great peril, emotional upheaval, and even life-threatening circumstances of both their own and others doing. These stories aren't there to just make for nice reading, but to remind us that we all struggle with similar emotions and the physical responses which come along with them. We don't stand as uniquely "different" when it comes to the life-challenges we face, either. Most of the world faces similar stuff to us, just in a different sector of the world. I may not have gone days on end without food, but I do know what it means to be emotionally and spiritually deprived of those things your life just yearns for. We can all associate with each other's fears in one way or another, can't we?
One of the things we can learn from David's accounts with his own fears is this truth of "self-talk". I am not advocating we all stand in front of the mirror, giving ourselves this little "pep talk" of "you can do it" words until we muster up enough chutzpah to actually do something. Sometimes we need a little "self-talk" to remind us that we are not doing this alone - we have God on our side and we just need a little reminder that he is there alongside us. David actually uses praise to get his mind off the issues at hand and to refocus his attention on the one who will walk him through to the other side of the challenge he faces.
We can take a lesson here - self-talk just might involve a little refocusing of our attention off of our own abilities and efforts, squarely focusing on the abilities and efforts of the one who is in control of the circumstances in the first place. The moment we begin to remind ourselves of where it is we have placed our trust, the more we will begin to see the basis of our fears not being well-founded. You see, when we remember God is our foundation, nothing can rock that foundation. We begin to see that all the fear we have mustered up inside is really not a lack of "nerve" or "chutzpah", but a misplacing of our trust.
The basis of fear is really a lack of trust. This may seem a bit over-simplified, but hear me out on this one. The opposite of fear is faith - faith is based solely in trust. We sit on the stool, believing it will hold us upright because we trust those four legs underneath us to do their "job" or "part". The stool's legs exist for one purpose - to hold the stool upright. The seat on that stool exists for one purpose - to hold the weight of the one perched on it. Well, faith is placing the weight of our world squarely on the "perch" of the one who has the ability to hold up under that weight. If we lack the trust in his ability to hold us up under that weight, we never move toward firmly resting in him. We avoid or try to create a new "stool" upon which we will place our weight (our trust). I have to ask - how's that been working for you?
If we want to overcome fear, we do so with refocusing our self-talk. Instead of focusing on why we cannot do whatever it is we need to do, we need to crawl up on the perch of God's rest. There, and only there, will we find rest for our fear and peace for our troubled emotions. Just sayin!