Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Fear Factor

This morning, after my son had pulled out of his parking spot and drove off to work at the ungodly hour of 5:30 AM, I remained standing outside on our tiny front steps, staring up at the moon. 

Even though he is almost 21, I still walk out with him, under the various guises of hanging up our decorative front porch flag, taking some early morning pics, or putting out the garbage and making sure the front door is locked. Sadly, over the past few years, our neighborhood seems to have become home to some pretty unsavory and even dangerous characters, and we’ve come to know the township police officers here on a first-name basis.

I heard a noise near our alley, and felt a chill hit me that didn’t come from the frigid morning temperatures. Literally frozen with fear, I couldn’t move. I held my breath and waited. Nothing happened. No one appeared. 

Breathing out a sigh of relief, I glanced back up in the sky towards the moon, which looked to be fighting to be seen amid some clouds and the tree branches, and this verse suddenly came to mind:

In this life, we never seem to run out of things to fear, do we? Whether due to bad, past experiences (our own or even someone else’s), or because of future unknowns/uncertainties, all of us have a fear factor. 

We don't like to admit it, but we're all afraid of SOMETHING. And, for the most part, not all of us are afraid of the same things.

Some people are afraid of heights (that would be me)

Some are afraid of insects or big dogs or bats (oh my!)

Other folks are afraid of flying, of driving in snowy/icy weather or across bridges, or of public speaking (me once again)

And still others are afraid of the dark or of thunderstorms

At times, it may feel as if our fears, much like the bare, spidery tree branches in the photo above, are reaching up, entangling us and choking the light and life right out of us. 

In the midst of moments or even seasons that appear to be or truly are dark and fearful, we may think "what to do?", as a friend’s son used to say when he was very small.

The only thing you CAN do when you’re afraid: put your trust in God.

Some time ago, not long after I was handed my breast cancer diagnosis and just before I was about to be wheeled into surgery because of it, I was handed something else. Psalm 56:3

“When I am afraid, I will trust in You.”

Being a still-wet-behind-the-ears follower of Jesus and pretty much new to Scripture PERIOD (let alone its memorization), I had never heard of this verse. But, like a drowning woman, I grabbed onto it like the lifeline that it was for me (and still is), and held on for dear life!

I repeated it over and over in my head as my journey to the operating room took an unexpected detour to a ‘holding room,’ because the results of an earlier, routine (but obviously pretty important) pre-admission test had not come back yet.

I whispered the verse out loud again and again as medical personnel scurried around me, checking my vitals, making frantic phone calls to the lab for those missing in action test results, and doing their best to reassure me that everything would be fine.

“When I am afraid, I will trust in You.”

But this verse REALLY hit home once I was finally brought into the blindingly bright and starkly sterile operating room as several folks from the surgical team lifted me off the gurney and placed me onto the hard, bare operating table, while two others each grabbed an arm of mine and stretched them out to insert more tubes and attach more wires.

It was a frightening moment for me, and a somewhat bizarre thought wormed its way into my brain. I wondered if Jesus had felt that same sickening fear overtake and overwhelm Him as the Roman soldiers stretched His arms out onto the cross? Could the Father have impressed these very words from the Psalms upon Jesus during His time of agony in the garden of Gethsemane? Did He bring them to mind as nails and hammers were poised above His hands and feet? 

Did KNOWING that He could COMPLETELY trust in His Abba bring Jesus some measure of comfort, peace and the strength to endure what was coming at that very moment?

Because they did for me. Those 9 simple words -- “When I am afraid, I will trust in You”  -- plus the realization that Jesus could relate to what I was going through (fear), supernaturally brought me to a place of peace, comfort and the strength to endure what was coming, at the same time removing that fear factor.

And just for the record: although it sounds absolutely unthinkable, outrageous, and even sacrilegious for me to compare my circumstance to Jesus’s, please know that is certainly NOT my intent here. I merely wish to share my thoughts from the moments before my surgery, and to point out that IF that small portion of Scripture had indeed invaded Jesus's thoughts that long ago Friday afternoon, I HAVE TO believe that He surely must have benefited from it as well.

I deposited that verse, securely and permanently, into my heart that day, carrying it with me as I headed off to surgery. I continued to carry it into the second surgery that came along 6 months later. It remained there through the upcoming, draining chemo treatments; through the endless, taxing tests and painful procedures that awaited down the road.

And for all the dark and scary situations and experiences that have confronted-- and continue to confront -- me and my family since then, it remains my ‘go to’ verse.

Beloved - maybe you’ve found yourself in the midst of a dark and scary situation right now:
  • The loss of a loved one
  • or of a job
  • or of a home 
  • The shattering of a marriage 
  • or of a friendship
  • or of a parent/child relationship 
  • Or your own health or financial crisis

And that light at the end of the tunnel everyone speaks of?  It seems somewhat hazy and not very bright -- if it can be seen at all. That still, small voice of God others remind you to listen for can often barely be heard above the crashing waves and deafening claps of thunder in your life’s particular storms.

“When I am afraid, I will trust in You.”

Dear one – may I encourage you and urge you TODAY to grab hold of this verse with both hands? And don't EVER let go. Carry it close to you in the midst of fear and uncertainty; as you walk through the tunnel's darkness and maneuver the raging storms.
Memorize it
Meditate on it
Whisper it
Shout it
Believe it
Own it

It’s not a magical incantation. It’s a powerful statement of faith and trust in the only One Who can bring you out of darkness, shelter you in life's storms and factor out your fear. 


  1. Oh, so glad you are able to share the hope and strength of His name and WOrd. A real Faith Life Preserver as I like to say! ;) Hugs, and stay safe. Maybe you should move to RI. LIke Narragansett...come on down the water is fine.

    1. Thank you, dear Dawn. Faith Life Preserver -- yes indeed. Didn't you do a post on that?

      Moving to RI: while the pictures you post of your area are, without a doubt, breathtakingly beautiful, these achy,old bones need to live in a much warmer climate. We've been looking down South (as in South Carolina), and I'm praying we'll get there soon. But thanks for the offer. <3

  2. Yes. Amen. Done deal. Yup! Good. Awesome. :)

  3. I love this, and realized as I was reading it that I needed this verse as well. Different circumstances,but fear all the same. Thank you for sharing this with us. It is powerful medicine.

    1. I'm glad this was meaningful to you, Pamela. That's my greatest desire for these posts. That they'll speak and breathe God's hope and healing to those who need it most. Thanks for stopping by and reading, and for taking time to leave a comment. :)

  4. You know I needed to read this today...thank you PSF. And it's also my second "trust" sighting thanks to you :)

    1. Actually, I'd been working on this the whole morning, and only got onto Facebook to see if Network Bloggers had picked it up (it hadn't), and that's when I saw your FB post for the day. God was truly at work with the message of trust. <3

  5. Replies
    1. Thanks, darlin'. I appreciate your stopping by to read and leave a sweet comment. <3

  6. Hiding God's Word in our hearts and Believing His promises really can get us through the tough dark nights. I love the way you thought about what Jesus may have been thinking, He knew the Word, He was the Word and yes, I'm thinking the manpart of Him would have been saying exactly that. I am afraid of the Cross but Father I will place My trust in You. Praising God for your walk of faith and ever growing strength and trust in Him.

  7. Jeannie, thanks so much for your words of encouragement. They mean so very much to me!


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