On fear

The greater the hope, the greater the fear.  

Things of this world aren’t always capable of being faithful.  Worldly things never fail to disappoint when our expectations are too high.  These things (or people) that we entrust with our hope almost always end up wounding our hearts to some (sometimes minor) degree. Even well-intentioned words spoken by a loved one can wound if they are delivered at the wrong time.  Putting hope in something that can't deliver makes us anxious and cynical.  Knowing that an outcome may bring us pain makes us fearful.

We have intense longings and pure-hearted hope for Simon.  We want him to breathe breaths on this earth.  How simple, yet how intense is this hope that Amy and I share for our boy.  Out of this simple and honest desire sprouts fear.  The fear is fertilized by the unknown.  If Simon lives - if we are able to bring him home - we will be faced with decisions that are more meaningful and impactful than anything we’ve previously stumbled upon.  There would be sleepless nights, difficult medical procedures, exorbitant expenses and tense situations.  Without warning, the seedling of fear becomes a thick web of creeping ivy that constricts with each exhale.  We could replace the specific hope of Simon living and breathing with the hope of our marriage not being negatively impacted by this, the hope of us being good parents to Teddy throughout the suffering, or any other desire for positive outcomes throughout our experience with Simon.  What is always budding at the end of such hopes is fear of our desires not being fulfilled. 

This fear exhausts as it paralyzes.  It makes me numb and unable to encounter my true emotion.  In my weakness I shut down, because all I want to do is avoid the anxiety.  I’d like to load my fears in one of those high-powered tee shirt launchers that are used at sporting events, and then shoot them into a furnace.  While this is satisfying to dream about, launching away my fears isn’t possible.  I need something sustainable and real to work through it.

Tim Keller’s sermon on “Praying Our Fears” truly helped me understand that God wants 100% of us, including our fears.  He wants us to remain in conversation and relationship with him - even as we sort through the scary stuff.  Prayers I’ve prayed recently have been as straightforward and simple as, “God, I’m scared and I can’t deal with this on my own,” or “Father, will you carry me through this today?”  I feel like my anxiety is a foe "that rises up against me," but God will be my shield as long as I move forward with Him.  If I let the anxiety abide or if I slink back in my own fragility, I deny God's security.  We embrace His security by praying our fears.

One of our recent counseling sessions solidified for me that I need to be better about speaking my fears with Amy.  She has enough of a burden, so I often avoid weighing her down further.  But the truth is we lighten one another’s loads as we share.  There is amazing balance that comes with mutual expression of your deepest angst with your spouse.  The vulnerability in these moments mends broken hearts and strengthens our bonds with each other.  This fear then creates an opportunity to refine our relationships, and refocus together on our hopes.  We pray through our hopes as we pray through our fears.  

The ultimate hope we have rests the saving grace of Jesus Christ.  His love never fails.  His words never wound.  He faced supreme fears and He did not let it break him.  When faced with persecution and death in the Garden, Jesus did not run, but He expressed fear to his Father.  As our substitute for the pain we deserved, He freed us to receive the divine security we do not deserve.  If Jesus can endure hell with God's shield, how much more are we protected by the things of this world?


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