~ Dominique Sachse
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. — Isaiah 41:10
You came near when I called you, and you said, “Do not fear.” — Lamentations 3:57
That’s a powerful command: “Do not fear.” But is that even possible — or desirable? The answer is absolutely — with one caveat.
Not all fear is created equal, you see. There are some cases where fear is necessary. Fear can actually be a gift; it can help us survive. If you’re attacked by a bear in the woods, I most certainly wouldn’t expect you to have a calm and confident demeanor while you’re exploring rapid-fire survival strategies to secure your spot in the gene pool. No, you would be terrified. And part of your terror would involve what is called the fight-or-flight instinct. Your breathing would instantly increase and your heart rate would speed up, fueling your muscles so you could react appropriately. We’ve all seen or heard stories of people who displayed incredible, almost inhuman strength to escape a life-or-death situation. Such fear is a natural and helpful response to a real threat, and we would be foolish to ignore it or try to overcome it. But what if fear is an overreaction to something we’ve imagined, more of an irrational response based on what-ifs running through the mind?
Or what if the fear is triggered by the memory of something that happened in the past or might happen in the future, not something that threatens us in the present? And what if those feelings of fear make us stop and keep us from moving forward? Fear of change, fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of what others might think, fear of what you might think — any of these can sabotage our well-laid plans for resetting our lives. Suddenly there we are, paralyzed in a mind and body that was designed to act. This type of fear is what I call imagined fear. Actually, that term is a little misleading; the fear itself is real — you feel it and respond to it. The “imagined” part has to do with the threat that inspires the fear. We may conjure unnecessary visions of danger when none are present. Or we may imagine that a real threat is bigger or more dangerous than it really is and assume it can’t be overcome. That’s what stops us in our tracks and sabotages our best efforts to change and grow.
I’ve known that kind of sabotaging fear. We all have.
- But we all have the perfect weapon available to us to fight our imagined fears. That weapon is faith. Faith in ourselves. And especially faith in our heavenly Father...
In my late thirties, when I was married to my first husband, we struggled with fertility issues. I know countless couples can relate to this. It was gut-wrenching because we believed with every fiber of our being that we were meant to be parents. It was an emotionally charged experience, to say the least. Ultimately we made the decision to go through in vitro fertilization (IVF).
I remember those days of hormone injections and egg collection — I felt like a walking henhouse. The doctors fertilized eight of my eggs, four of which appeared to be viable, but in the end, only one was ready for implanting. Because the likelihood of becoming pregnant through IVF is very low, the doctors prefer to implant more than one embryo. They were not optimistic about our odds if we implanted just one. In fact, they said we had about a 1 percent chance of getting pregnant with that single embryo.
They encouraged us to freeze it and go through the process us again to create more embryos. But I was physically and emotionally depleted by that time. We decided to roll the dice. So there I was lying on the table after the procedure, slightly inverted (to increase the odds) and pretty emotional, ranging from tears to laughter, with a strong urge to pee. Then, out of nowhere, I had this overwhelming desire to pray. I had been raised in an agnostic home, and as loving, thoughtful, and purpose-driven as my upbringing was, prayer was not a part of it. I had zero experience with talking to God at that point in my life, so you can see why this urge felt foreign to me. But I did it.
- I prayed — big and bold. It felt strange and unfamiliar, yet so right.
Days passed, and I wondered if the exercise — the IVF and the praying — had been in vain. I even had a little scare days later, making me really question that impulse of mine. Then, lo and behold, I got pregnant with my son! And a little nugget of faith was planted in me as well.
But my faith journey after that was not zero to sixty in a matter of seconds. Not at all. It was a slow burn for years. I continued to pray during my pregnancy, thanking God for the gift of carrying this child and praying for a healthy baby boy. Those prayers were infrequent and felt like they came more from a place of begging than receiving. Still, they were a clear acknowledgement of what I was coming to believe — that there was something bigger and greater than me at work in this situation.
I hadn’t really learned how to pray just yet, and I hadn’t attended a church. But I was about to get some great inspiration on going before God with boldness and expectation.
My son Styles was born, and it was the most precious day. I’ll never forget feeling that newborn skin up against mine and seeing his puffy lips (runs in the family) and sweet eyes. But once we brought him home, the struggles began. His first year in this world was a challenge for us all. Several years later my marriage disintegrated. And it was in January 2010, during my divorce, that faith really came into play for me.
- I knew deep down that I couldn’t do this alone.
It was too hard being the single, working mother of a child with early on health challenges and then facing emotional challenges from going through a divorce on top of that. That’s when I started attending Lakewood Church, and I dedicated my life to God.
I’ve done life without Him, and I’ve done it with Him.
I know which I prefer.
For me, faith is the answer to so many, if not all, of life’s questions and challenges, and I can tell you from experience that it is the greatest weapon ever formed against fear.
Whether we are consciously aware of it or not, fear dictates many of the decisions we make. It is often the primary driver of the decision to stay exactly, precisely where we are rather than choosing to change and grow. That’s why I want you to abandon fear. I mean it. I want you to leave it on the side of the road and not give it a second glance in your rearview mirror. Abandoning fear enables you to be bold and to take risks. It frees you to move forward in your life. But the only way you’ll be able to do this is to choose a new modus operandi.
Before I knew God, I would’ve looked at moments in my life when I was somehow protected from a bad occurrence or when an incredible opportunity came about and attributed those moments to my own willpower or sheer luck. But now, looking back on those moments, I see that God was present. I can see the special ways in which He showed up in my life. And because of this understanding, moving forward, I know I can rely on my faith to overpower any fear that might rise up.
Excerpted with permission from Life Makeover by Dominique Sachse, copyright Dominique Sachse.
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How about you? How have you seen God show up in your life protecting you, or providing for you, or clearing a path before you? In times of fear, have you prayed and that made all the difference? Come share with us. We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily