Fasting from Worry and Fear (Day 3)
Fear, anxiety, and worry are deeply intertwined. While many use the terms interchangeably, they are actually quite different.
Fear is often more immediate – fear of a particular situation, fear of failure, fear of losing someone or something important to you. Often, such fear is appropriate. Having lived through three tornados and losing my best friend in a tornado, I have a good reason to feel fear when there is stormy weather. It causes me to pay attention to the forecast, to take cover when needed.
But when I can’t sleep on a stormy night because I’m afraid I won’t wake up if a tornado is coming – then my fear is interfering with my quality of life. My fear is racing ahead of my logic. I know how loud a tornado is (it really does sound like a freight train) and I know that I will wake up. It is in such a time of irrational fear or phobia that we need to pray, to invest in letting go of such fear, or if it is really impairing your life, to seek professional support.
Anxiety is a bit more persistent than fear and is, therefore, a more common occurrence. While there certainly is a clinical level of anxiety, many people face a more generalized anxiety. As with shame, we are also adept at avoiding anxiety through numbing our difficult emotions. God created all emotion, each with a helpful purpose even if they don’t feel “good.”
We can trust God to see us through discomfort. We can be confident that we will survive grief. We can be so grounded in who and whose we are that we can live with someone disagreeing with or disapproving of us. Anxiety is a normal part of life, not to be feared or avoided but to be dealt with. (When anxiety significantly impairs your life, it is time to seek professional help.)
Worry, in some ways, is the baby brother of this group, but it is incredibly powerful. (More on worry tomorrow.)
- Over what in your life do you feel anxious? What impact does your anxiety have on your life and ministry? What steps have you taken to deal with it? What does your faith have to say to you about your anxiety?
- What affirmations can you give yourself when you are afraid, such as “I can do this,” or “God has seen me through this before,” or “I need to phone a friend (or a pastor)?”
II Timothy 1:7
God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.
Let us pray,
Lord God, you told your disciples “be not afraid” and their trust, though imperfect empowered them to do great things in your name. Soothe our anxieties, give us the power to step out of the boat into the unknown. We pray in the name of the one who rescued Peter when his fear got the better of him, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Among teens and young adults, anxiety is called “the mental health tsunami of their generation.”* While there are many theories about why, and what to do about it, one interesting perspective can be found here in a Ted Talk about grit.
*National Education Association
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Tags: devotions, fasting, fear, Lent, worry