In the wake of all the media coverage about the Paris and San Bernardino killings, worry and fear can take hold. Many people actually find themselves “sick” with fear. Physically, Web MD states that chronic worry can produce the following symptoms: difficulty swallowing, dizziness, dry mouth, fast heartbeat, fatigue, headaches, lack of concentration, muscle aches and tension, nausea, nervous energy, rapid breathing, shortness of breath, sweating, trembling and twitching. Chronic anxiety, mixed with large amounts of stress hormones can actually cause your immune system to become suppressed. As well, it can cause digestive disorders, premature coronary artery disease, panic attacks and heart attacks.
I often tell the story to my Bible study students about when I was young, newly married, and deathly afraid to stay by myself at night. I believe this was partially an after-effect of filling my mind with horror movies as a child. Remember Helter-Skelter? Anyway, I repeatedly checked the locks on the door, constantly heard noises, and stayed awake all night if a situation arose that my husband had to be gone during the night. It got so bad that I refused to stay at home and stayed in his car when he worked swing shift. At this point, I knew I had a serious problem.
Fears are sometimes bigger than our capability to handle them. When we retreat into ourselves and become overtaken by our fears, we lose the battle. How, as Christians, can we break away from worry and conquer our fears?
First, before leaving the house and before going to bed at night, leave your worries with God, who is completely equipped to handle all that we give him. This simple act of transference is healing to the mind. To actually say out loud to God that you are giving your worries to Him, and that you are trusting Him to protect you and to keep you from harm, will empower you. In tears, I cried out to the Lord the next time I had to stay alone and I felt the comfort of His loving arms around me, as I began to trust someone other than myself to face my fear.
Next, fill your mind with the truth of the Word of God to diminish your worries. The scripture I read that literally broke the bond of fear in my life was Matthew 10. The most powerful verses in that chapter for me were Matthew 10: 28-31 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.[b] 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Another powerful chapter in the Bible is Psalms 91. Repeating scriptures over and over to yourself until you can quote them aloud is very beneficial.
Third and finally, think on good things. Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” By doing this you are replacing the fuel that adds to the fire with “living water” that puts out the fire! I never watch scary movies anymore. Suspenseful, yes, but horror, or true, evil crime stories… never! I choose to fill my mind with things that advance my mind to ideals that I aspire to or with mindless, harmless fun as well!
I am relieved that through the Lord, my chronic fear was eradicated because my future held numerous moves around the world, a husband that internationally travels on a regular basis and two children that are fearless when it comes to staying alone. Don’t stress any longer, ask the Lord for help today and begin to live in freedom from your chronic fear too!