God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
Scripture often speaks to our fearful human hearts. “Do not be afraid, God is with you,” is a common theme we find throughout Scripture. Even if the earth gives way and the mountains fall, we do not need to fear because God is with us as our refuge and strength. Even when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we do not need to be afraid, because God is with us as our comfort and guide. No matter what we encounter, no matter what makes our human hearts faint with fear, we are not alone, we are loved, God is with us.
Unfortunately, it is fairly common for fear to become the central feature of our lives. When this happens our fear can lead us to obsessions, addictions and frustrated attempts to control ourselves and others. Fear can lead us to judge and attack anyone who seems to be a threat. Our fears leave us agitated, depressed and full of dread.
It is true that there is much to be afraid of in this world. We fear all kinds of losses. We fear death. We fear humiliation and rejection. We fear pain. We fear loneliness. We fear meaninglessness. We fear the unknown. We fear fear itself.
But most deeply of all, we fear that we are on our own in this world. We fear that we are not loved or valued by our Creator. We fear that we are judged, condemned and abandoned by the One who made us.
What we long for most is to know that we are loved and valued and that no matter what happens in life, we won’t have to face it alone—we will be given the help, strength and grace we need. We long to know that we can find refuge in the loving arms of God.
Prayer often involves listening to the Spirit speak tender, powerful, personal reassurances to us when we are afraid. Prayer is listening deeply to the surprising and life giving words of God, “Don’t be afraid, I am here with you. I am your refuge. I am your help and strength. I am here always. You can find comfort and rest in my loving arms.”
God calls us out of the many traps that fear can create in our lives. God does not promise us a life free of suffering and loss. But God faithfully, persistently promises to be with us through all of life, bearing our sorrows, and giving us strength, comfort and hope even in the darkest hours.
Prayer is a response to God’s call to release our fears to God and to know that God is powerfully, lovingly present with us in all of life.
You know my fears.
You know how they come unbidden to my heart and mind.
In the middle of the night. In the light of day.
You know my fear of loss and death and abandonment.
You know my fear of fear.
You know all the things I do in
an effort to keep these fears under control.
And you know the problems that are created
when I try to control the uncontrollable.
So I bring my fears to you.
Help me to listen deeply to your voice of love.
Remind me again that you are with me—no matter what.
Remind me that you are my refuge and my strength.
When all is well and when the mountains fall.
Be my safety, my hope, my refuge, my ever-present help.
Ask for God’s help as you list the fears that commonly distress you. Next to each fear write down what you do in reaction to this fear (try to control others, withdraw from others, distract yourself, etc.) Talk with God about what you have written.
Ask for help to listen as God says to you, “I am your refuge and strength. I am with you now and always. Do not fear. You are not alone. I love you. I am with you to help you.”
As you are ready, release each fear, and each attempt to deal with it on your own. Acknowledge to God the ways in which you hurt others because of your fears. Picture yourself resting in God’s loving arms.
Fear is a central struggle for those with experiences of childhood abuse in many forms, even Moreso from a parent…it is not easy to overcome this fear as it becomes a part of us during our years of experiencing abuse firsthand and then growing into adulthood debilitated by this darkest of forces. It is not easy to trust this God you speak about so freely. I know first hand that my way back to Him was a long and difficult journey through fear and uncertainty. It is hard for some of us to learn how to wait for Him, being in His presence while at the same time wanting to run away from Him, from our very selves. Some of us need help to learn how to do this. I am one of these people.
Juanita Ryan says
Bless, you Jackie for your honesty and courage in writing what is true for so many of us. We do need help to learn to trust God’s love and goodness. Be ever so kind to yourself as you lean into trusting God a little at a time.
Juanita, Thank you, thank you! Your words about ‘fear’ have comforted my soul and I am thanking God for you today.
Juanita Ryan says
I am grateful you were comforted by these words today, Angela. Thank you for letting me know.