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GRIPPED BY FEAR--PART ONE

GRIPPED BY FEAR—PART ONE

 

My heart raced as sweat dripped from my chest and forehead.  A burning sensation radiated through the back of my head and down my neck.  The pulsating, pounding rhythm of my heart beat against my chest and between my upper left shoulder blade and spine.  My legs felt strange and weak pushing me deeper into panic mode as my breathing labored and I struggled to fill my lungs with air.  I felt sure I was having a heart attack.  

 

After two and half hours of waiting in the packed lobby of the ER followed by three hours of lying on a bed waiting to see a doctor allowed plenty of time for me to reassess exactly why I had come to the hospital in the first place.  The only remaining symptom in my body was the continuous burning sensation in the back of my head and down my back.  Add to that an IV in my right arm—causing a new source of pain as it was incorrectly inserted and through which nothing was being administered from it in the form of medication or even a saline drip—I quickly became suspicious my supposed heart attack—with all symptoms pointing that direction—was nothing more than a panic attack, a.k.a. FEAR.

 

As a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, the Holy Trinity—Father, Son, Holy Spirit—and the Bible being God’s inerrant Word, I lay in that hospital bed feeling ashamed.  Why had the enemy gotten such a strong hold on me this particular night to the point where I looked for safety in a hospital emergency room?  I thought I had a strong walk with my Lord.  I heard His voice clearly many times over the past three and half years but this particular evening I felt alone, forsaken and afraid.  I had prayed and prayed.  I texted and had many others praying for me; still fear gripped me when I felt my life was in peril.  And to add insult to injury, turns out I only had a pulled muscle in my back causing the burning sensation in my head and neck.  All the other symptoms were caused by anxiety, a.k.a. FEAR.

 

Sunday this week, FEAR surfaced its ugly head again but much stronger than before.  I had had a meeting this past Friday with my cardiologist to discuss the results of some preliminary test I had taken concerning my heart and coronary arties.  Although my heart itself proved strong the stress test showed some abnormalities. The doctor wanted to do a nuclear stress test as soon as possible and tried consoling me with, “It is probably nothing.  A false positive reading happens many times.”  The test was set up for Monday morning and the weekend that followed was torturous.  By Sunday evening I was fighting a spiritual battle like never before.  I spent the evening in prayer and reading God’s word out loud as I walked around my house for hours then went to bed.    

 

Today, the day after the stress test, I woke up compelled to begin a search for answers about fear and the Lord started my quest in 2 Timothy.  As believers we often refer to 2 Timothy 1:7 which says, “For God has not given us the spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind” when we are struggling with fear in our lives.  I have quoted this verse many times myself in the context of overcoming fear.  You probably have too.

 

A deeper look into the scripture revealed to me Timothy seemed to be experiencing timidity or shyness about proclaiming Christ—emotions we can perhaps all relate to.  Paul encouraged Timothy to continue in the work of the teaching and spreading the gospel of Jesus.  Paul cautions Timothy to “not be ashamed to testify of our Lord” and to not be ashamed of him (Paul) even though he was in chains for Christ. (vs. 8)  I too have suffered from timidity when it comes to being a witness for Christ and although this verse often gives me strength when fighting a spiritual battle, Paul was not talking about the same kind of fear I had experienced earlier in the week.  I was scared I was going to die in a very painful way—a heart attack.

 

I have often said I am not afraid of dying but I am very afraid of the way I am going to die.  Of course I know I am a child of God and will be in paradise with Christ but still the thought of pain does not thrill me even if it is just for a few seconds.  Can we call this fear? And if we can then how do we battle against it?  What can a believer do when fear grips them so strongly they feel as if God has forsaken them?  What happened to me—a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, studier of the Word of God, and one who believes strongly in the power of prayer?  Why did I succumb to a fear so strong I ended up in the hospital because of it? 

 

Ephesians 6:10 gives some answers.  Paul writes,

 

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and His mighty power.” 

 

The Greek word used here for strong is the transliterated word is Endunamoo (pronounced en-doo-nam-o'-o) and according to Strong’s Online Concordance it means:

to be strong, endue with strength, strengthen

to receive strength, be strengthened, or to increase in strength. (Strong’s #1743) 

 

First we must be strong in the Lord and according to Strong’s 2nd definition we can expand the scripture to read,  “Finally, be strong (receive strength, be strengthened or increase in strength) in the Lord.”  In essence Paul is telling us to receive strength from our Lord for He is our strength.     

 

Secondly we must realize the power of God.  Paul says “in HIS mighty power.”  The concept, and saying, of mind-over-matter has never worked for me.  Does it work for you?  It is only God’s power from which we can draw strength, not from ourselves.  As believers of Jesus Christ, we belong to Elohim—Mighty Creator—the one and only true God who simply spoke and out of nothingness the universe and everything in it was formed.  Now that my friend is power!  Who or what can conquer God?  Nothing/nobody can do that.  We must believe in the mighty power of God with more than just with our heads; we must believe it in our hearts and let this knowledge penetrate deep inside.  Jesus said in Luke 24:49 He was sending power from on high.  This power is the Holy Spirit who comes to live in us when we accept Jesus Christ as our savior.  God’s power resides within us through His Holy Spirit.

 

Thirdly, and getting more to the point, when we battle fear it is not an earthly battle or an inner battle and it does not come from God.  Did God intend for us to live in fear?  No. The Word says, “God has not given us the spirit of fear.” So where does this fear come from?  Fear is a spirit, and as you have probably experienced in your life too, it is not good nor is it from God.  I submit to you fear is a spiritual force of evil which Paul speaks of in Ephesians 6:12:

 

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (emphasis mine)

 

Fear is the ultimate weapon our enemy uses against us and it stops many of us from trusting God and His will for our lives.  It stops us from moving forward with the things God has called us to do.  It seems to me once we begin to follow God’s will for our lives fear creeps up inside us simply because things are not going the way we thought they should.  We begin to question whether or not we are in God’s will because of fear.  We say things like, “If God really wants me to do this then why is it so hard? Why does it seem like everything is against me?  Why is God taking so long?  Did God really speak to me?” 

 

This is madness sisters and brothers!  When God lays it on our hearts to do something—no matter how big or small—after we have sought Him and prayed sincerely about it, He will not allow us fail.  We should not—we must not—change paths unless we have again sought God in prayer and we clearly hear directly from God to do so.  If God has not given you a new direction then do not change directions simply because of fear things are not working out the way you planned.  Jesus Christ died to break these strongholds in our lives.  God’s plan never failed in the past for those who heard His voice and followed His direction and it is not going to fail now.

 

PLEASE READ PART TWO –GRIPPED BY FEAR--IS FEAR AN EMOTION?  NO!

 

Always loving our Lord,

Lori Robbins


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