Updated: Apr 2
: an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat
: be afraid of (someone or something) as likely to be dangerous, painful, or threatening
Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
If I should die before I ‘wake,
I pray the Lord my Soul to take…
Do you know what scares the sh*t out of my being?
Do you know what often shakes the core of my soul?
Do you know what seems to plague my mind?
You guessed it. Death.
Do not be mistaken; I am not scribing about the inevitable transition we, believers, are afforded at the end of our fulfilled purpose on Earth. I am not concerned about the transition that occurs when we have the gracious opportunity to fall asleep eternally in the company of our Father.
Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. – 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 NIV
I fear premature or unexpected… death.
I fear the literal death of a loved one (i.e., one of my parents or siblings, a close friend or family member, etc.) before complete healing or reconciliation has took place… or before monumental moments of my life (i.e., marriage, the birth of my children, “making it” to the dimensions of success I believe God has for me, etc.) are witnessed by or experienced with that loved one. It is the shadowing sensation that I may forfeit my God-inspired dreams and visions, disregard my ideals or values as a result of self-debilitation or literal suicide. It is overwhelming fear that predates the revelation and realization of a purpose driven and fulfilled life. It is a life conquered by death instead of the latter, which is a life well lived that conquers all fears while inching closer to my fulfilled purpose – a life predestined for eventual death, not premature or unexpected death.
But what is this fear… really? Let’s be reminded of its definition.
As defined by Google, fear is an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat. Did you catch it? Fear is an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief…
The word, “emotion,” is synonymous with the word, “feeling”. And as a great friend constantly reminds me, feelings are fickle. The emotional and fickle nature that surrounds fear, frequently due to threatening beliefs or dangerous imaginations, should not have authority to control the outlook on our lives. And if it does, our beliefs must change and be held steadfast in who we are and whose we are (which is found in God’s Word). This way no fear or premature, unexpected occurrence can scare, shake, or plague us. Periodt! (yes, the “t” at the end of “period” was intentional)
How do I know? Psalm 23:4-5, the message version, reads:
Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I’m not afraid when you walk at my side. Your trusty shepherd’s crook makes me feel secure. You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies. You revive my drooping head; my cup brims with blessing.
Here is what was revealed to me over time when reading and re-reading this scripture in multiple versions:
My revelation discovered in Psalm 23:4: It is highly likely that all of us will traverse deathly situations or thoughts. Therefore, we ought to deliberately eliminate fear by believing God is on our side even when a small glimpse or piece of what is deadening us inserts itself into our lives. His crook, which is an actual tool used to direct, drawback, protect and steady us (His sheep), should provide the security we need to believe God is in control when we fear the possibilities of life.
My revelation discovered in Psalm 23:5: I am often my own worst enemy. How about you? For me, it is because most of my fears originate in my mind and are a byproduct of believing in my doubts, worries and insecurities. My enemy, or shall I say, “inner-me,” also comes with distasteful thoughts of suicide, pessimism, the glutton tendency of harping on “what ifs,” shameful regrets of past missteps, etc. My “inner-me” often sits greedily at the table of my mind waiting for me to serve it its next malnourished meal. Yet I believe God shows up every time to serve the “inner-me” an exquisite meal abounding in the fruit of the spirit (refer to Galatians 5:22-23) paired with a cup overflowing of blessings that cause all of my fears to subside and my head to lift up in gratitude towards the sky. The underlying fact is God will always starve our fears (whether internal or external) when we routinely feed on and intentionally ingest the rich, nutritious supplements of His Word.
“...acknowledge what [you] feel but act on what [you] know.” – Anthony Brown
The reality is we are going to continue to feel fear. I will most likely continue to fear premature or unexpected death and it is okay. I acknowledge it and you should acknowledge your fears, too. It is a human emotion that should be felt and not ignored. Feelings of any kind that are dismissed or discounted often lead us astray, into areas of further dismay so I propose we start acknowledging how we feel daily. Then we can quickly release those feelings by accepting His truth in exchange for our misleading emotions and quickly act in faith, believing that God does not give us the spirit of fear (refer to 2 Timothy 1:7). Additionally, we can recall past encounters or experiences where we felt fear and lacked hope yet overcame our fears, persisted through life’s challenges, and in the midst of faithful activity, God’s provision and breakthrough showed up.
The most common tactic for handling fears responsibly is prioritizing faith over the emotional plight and belief system associated with fear. Whereas fear can exist without reason, faith cannot exist without the foreknowledge of divine truth and experiences and it especially cannot exist without hope. Faith is more than a feeling, encounter or outward expression; it is something we know that we know that we know, without evidence, because we hope God will and we believe He can. Therefore, when fear tries to cripple us, faith, which is anchored in truth found in His Word, must catapult us beyond our dampered beliefs or emotions.
Before I conclude this blog post, I would be remiss if I did not include one last viewpoint. Maybe knowing His Word is not a strength of yours. Maybe it is a boring and/or difficult practice for you. I get it. I have been there and sometimes I am right there with you. If you are anything like me, then it can be challenging to exert yourself to try to internalize His truth “correctly,” especially during dreadful situations. I still trust that we are all working on increasingly learning and applying His Word to our lives. However, if we neglect to get the Word in us and make a conscious, routine effort to learn and re-learn His truths on a consistent basis, we will always be feeling our way through the emotional tolls of life without a reliable source of instruction, inspiration, encouragement, conviction, protection, or the like. The bottom line is READ THE BIBLE (“HIS WORD”) for only our resolved belief in His truth will give us continued confidence in knowing that when…
[we] lay down to sleep,
[and] pray the Lord [our souls] to keep,
if [we] should die before [we] ‘wake,
[we’ll believe] the Lord [our] Soul to take…
Let's make an effort to rest on His promises shared in His Word by hoping God can and believing He will. That is truly faith in action with or without the absence of fear.
Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said,” – Hebrews 4:1-3a ESV