Joy Thieves – Part 1 {Fear}

 

Sometimes I think I could write a book about fear. Not an intelligent book, or even a useful one, but I have pages and pages of ways of turning ordinary everyday circumstances into your worst nightmare. I have the mixed blessing of an over-active imagination – on the one hand, I can dream up all sorts of creative ideas for tales and stories. But the same imagination can turn a quick drive down a motorway into a tragic car wreck.

Fear is one of modern life’s greatest enemies. We live in a globally connected society where we can find out and know about so much more than we could even when I was just a child. At our fingertips, we have access to a myriad of news and information which is tied up with facts, opinions, disinformation and misinformation. We can be both completely informed and misled at the same time.

We have 24 hour news channels that tell us about ebola, terrorists, natural disasters, wars and calamities. Many of these things are not new to our society, but our access to information on them is. It is near-on impossible to watch a news programme without feeling some sense of alarm at the contents. We stand by someone who coughs at an airport and we wonder where they have travelled from. We see someone sitting in a public place with a camera and we wonder what (or who) they are taking photos of. We get on a bus with someone wearing a hefty backpack and we wonder about its contents.

Our modern media drives fear into our hearts on a daily basis. We fear the day our children will ask for an electronic device of their own, and we fear the day a new disease arrives on our shores. We fear the motives of people we don’t know and we fear illnesses we don’t understand.

And if we let it, fear will become the thief who knows how to pick every padlock we try and wrap around our existences.

But God did not intend you to live this way. Because faith is the antidote to fear. Fear is a venomous poison, a thief that doesn’t just infiltrate, but lingers to laugh at your distress. Fear isn’t fleeting, it moves in to your house and sets up camp, and follows you around your own home – your own home!! – brazen and unwanted, but oh so clever. Whispering scenarios, outcomes, concerns, into your ear until the most unimaginable fear plagues you.

And you know what? It’s a drain. Fear is a leech that slowly expels all the joy in your life until you are incapacitated by the possibility of a set of what ifs.

Have you ever been there? Frozen in time by your own fear? Robbed of joy and left feeling miserable?

So how do you overcome the fear, the king of the joy thieves?

1. Praise Him!

 

When we lift our eyes off ourselves, and look to HIM, we can put aside our fears. Part of our problem with fear stems from the fact that we allow it in to our minds. Our minds are wonderful places, but too long with your own thoughts and fear will fatten up your mind with all kinds of consequences that may (but probably won’t!) come to pass.

Put on some music; pick your favourite worship songs. Turn your fear into celebration and sing!

2. Thank Him!

 

When we focus on what we have, rather than what we don’t, it’s remarkable how our spirits lift.

Ann Voskamp of A Holy Experience champions the notion of keeping a journal where you record all the gifts you have in your life, no matter how small. Running water, clean clothes, a bed to sleep in, a niece, a cousin, a car, toothpaste…the smallest things we take for granted might be something someone elsewhere in the world might give anything to have.

Grab a small notebook and a pen and start writing them down. Be deliberate, and look for the gifts, for the joy. And thank HIM for it. Thank the Lord for what you have and your fear will have less to cling to.

3. Trust Him!

 

Do you believe God has the universe in His hands? Do you believe He knows what He is doing?

Either you do or you don’t.

Do you see God as a bumbling negligent creator who crosses His fingers, wobbles a Magic 8 ball and hopes for the best?

Or do you see a God who can turn all circumstances, no matter how dire and undesirable, into the best outcome (Romans 8:28)?

Do you see a God who loves you a bit, some of the time, when the fancy takes Him and He’s having a good day?

Or do you see a God whose eye is on the sparrow, yet numbers the very hairs on your head because you are worth so much to Him (Luke 12:7)?

If you feel like you’re leaning to the former of each suggestion, pick up your Bible. Even if at this moment you feel sure of who you are in God, pick it up anyway. Read about Joseph, and Jonah, and Job, and Sarah, and Mary and Daniel, and Moses… Get to know the Romans 8:28 God – the One who sees each circumstance of your life and knows how to work it all out. Even when we don’t know how, even when we don’t even want it to work out the way it does.

The only way you can trust someone is by knowing them.

Get to know Him better. Even if life is all flowers and roses and dreamy walks in the park, take up your armour so you can defend yourself should trouble prevail, should Fear the Joy Thief find a way to pull a thread and unravel your life.

4. Make the Effort!

 

None of these things are easy. They all take effort. Singing when you’d rather cry is a far greater effort than curling up in a ball on the bed and weeping. Reading your Bible when you’d rather sit on the edge of your chair watching News 24 requires more of you. Writing out all the things you are thankful for, when it’s easier to fill your mind with what might happen next, takes intention.

But oh it’s so worth it.

“Take heart!” says Jesus, “I have overcome the world!” (John 16:33)

 

Grace and Love

Helen x

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