A dear friend of mine is struggling with fear. She recently moved to a new town in a new state to begin a new stage of her professional life, and she is gripped by the fear that she’s not ready and that this was a bad decision. She wonders if moving wasn’t “God’s will” for her, because if He was at work in this decision, why is it so terrifying and hard? Shouldn’t it be easier?
She has people around her, including my wife and I, who are supporting her, praying for and with her, counseling and encouraging her. She is holding white-knuckled to her faith that God is good and strong and able to protect and uphold her. But she is still afraid.
It’s an anxiety she knows well. It takes many forms. It comes and goes. She battles, and her victories are hard-won. But every morning, she draws her sword.
The well-meaning lob Bible promises like hand grenades, thinking that one need only believe a little bit harder and pray a little more to find relief. But that doesn’t help like they think it does. The thing is, she believes. She prays until she has no words. And still she must fight. The truth of their proffered Scriptures does not so easily release the cold grip of the slithering anxiety, squeezing.
As I hear her talk about the fear, I am burdened for her, and I recognize the description of her nemesis. I have fought it myself, or something like it, though not nearly as often or as long as she has. My enemy more often takes the shape of a black dog than a coiled serpent. But they are cousins, these monsters. They often join forces.
While I was talking with her at length the other day, I read Psalm 27 to her. I told her that many times it has been for me a bright torch in a dark wood.
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?
When evildoers assail me
to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
it is they who stumble and fall.
Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
yet I will be confident.
One thing have I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to inquire in his temple.
For he will hide me in his shelter
in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will lift me high upon a rock.
And now my head shall be lifted up
above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the Lord.
Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud;
be gracious to me and answer me!
You have said, “Seek my face.”
My heart says to you,
“Your face, Lord, do I seek.”
Hide not your face from me.
Turn not your servant away in anger,
O you who have been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not,
O God of my salvation!
For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
but the Lord will take me in.
Teach me your way, O Lord,
and lead me on a level path
because of my enemies.
Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
for false witnesses have risen against me,
and they breathe out violence.
I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living!
Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!
I repeated the final exhortation to her as we spoke. Be strong. Take courage. And wait for the Lord. Because, some days, all you can do is hold on, battle your enemy to a stand-still, and wait. But we wait just the same, turning our faces to the Light, trusting that our Help is coming.
If you are weary from battling fear and worry today, know this: You are seen, you are loved, and you are not alone. It’s okay not to be okay. The Bible says that “God is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18). His compassion and mercy are great. So don’t give up. Keep fighting. And if you need a friend, someone to talk to, let me know.