Fear Factor

34

Several years ago, life’s challenges loomed large for my husband and me. Our kids moved across the country. The market crashed. We lost four family members in eighteen months. A hurricane shut down our city and made our neighborhood look like a war zone. Newscasters reported on a litany of terrorism threats. And fear slowly crept into my soul.

I knew the right scriptures to recite. “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?” (Psalm 27:1) and “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid” (Hebrews 13:6). Even so, I found myself afraid when real or imagined hardships crossed my path. I began to pray that God would make me fearless. Then I “happened” to come across The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life by Hannah Whitall Smith. Hannah’s life was pretty dismal from any human point of view. Her parents rejected her for a while. All of her kids died, went crazy, turned from their faith or deserted their own children. Her marriage failed. Her heath failed. Still she wrote book after book about finding fearlessness and happiness through faith. Her words challenged and changed me, words like these:

  • “Remember always that there are two things which are more utterly incompatible even than oil and water, and these two are trust and worry.”[1]
  • When we indulge in doubts or fears, we not only do a very silly thing, but we also directly disobey Him.”[2]

Our heavenly Father tells us over and over to “fear not.” He wants us to live every day relying on him and on his provision. Hannah believed that those who truly trust God and rely on his word can lead happy lives free of fear. I believe that too. Fearlessness is a matter of prayer first and obedience second. First we make every worry a matter of prayer because Philippians 4 tells us to. Then we begin to change the thought patterns that cultivate fear.

Have you struggled with fear? How has God brought you greater peace?

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[1] Hannah W. Smith, The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life (Boston: Willard Tract Repository Company, 1873), 70.

[2] Hannah W. Smith, Every Day Religion (Chicago: Fleming H. Revell, 1893), 224.

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