How to Stand Strong in the Face of Your Fears
- Jennifer Heeren Crosswalk Contributing Writer
- 2014 29 Apr
…but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. "It's a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid." "Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water." "Come," he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!" Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?" (Matthew 14:24-31)
What strikes me most in this passage is the use of the word immediately. The first immediately is unspoken but clearly evident. The disciples were out on a turbulent sea in the middle of the night. Jesus knew they were having trouble so he came to them immediately. When the disciples saw Jesus, their fear of the storm turned into terror that they were seeing a ghost because Jesus was walking on the water toward them. However, Jesus immediately sought to encourage and calm them. Then a few moments later, Peter again saw the wind and the waves and started to sink. Jesus immediately catches him and saves him.
Like the disciples on that turbulent night, I too can be so focused on the storms around me that I have trouble recognizing that Jesus is also there with me. The roar of the wind and the brashness of the waves seem to cover up the whispers of Jesus in my soul and mind. However, when I do listen for his whispers of grace, forgiveness, encouragement, and the fortitude to continue on, I see my circumstances through eyes of hope.
One more immediately is unspoken as well but is very important. Peter gets the confirmation that it is indeed Jesus out there on the water, immediately gets out of the boat, and proceeds to walk on water toward Jesus. Peter was immediately obedient.
When I take my eyes off God and his truths, I am more prone to fear and insecurity and therefore I am prone toward disobedience. Clips from the news can add to these fears. Destructive hurricanes, tornados, and earthquakes can happen at any time. Crimes against humanity also happen a lot. Financial worries can distract as well. However, my typical fears come in the form of the rejection of people or at least the perceived rejection of people. Sometimes this latter type of fear only happens in my mind but can stop me from doing good things nonetheless.
God may want me to help someone by speaking an encouraging word into his or her life and I do not, not because I do not want to but because I am afraid to. Worrying about what they will think of me becomes the dominant thought in my mind. I desire to keep my eyes focused on him at all times but I cannot seem to resist being distracted by my insecurities. I am continually noticing the wind and the waves within me. They are like clanging gongs that cannot be ignored. Distractions, whether outward or inward, are inevitable and will continue to happen but I do not have to let them paralyze me. That is why it is imperative that I listen more fervently for God’s whispers and read his word in the Bible.
Today, the Lord wants me to take courage by listening to him instead of my fears. He is with me just as he was with the disciples that night. When I get into trouble, and I will, he is there to protect me. Moreover, like Peter, I just might be able to defy the odds against me. With God, all things are possible but I do have to keep my eyes on the Lord and keep trusting him. If I take my eyes off him, even for a moment, I may sink. When I look harder at the circumstances around me than I do at Jesus, I will doubt and my fear will take over and overwhelm me. If that happens, I will sink—but the Lord will catch me. He may rebuke me afterwards about my lack of faith but he will not let me fall completely. This is a life-long learning process, so I will seek to avoid feelings of guilt or shame when failing becomes my reality. I will simply thank God for getting me out of trouble and then ask him for another chance to try again. He is the God of second chances and new beginnings.
The Lord is immediately there when I need him so, in turn, my trust and obedience needs to be immediately there for him.
What area do you need to doubt less and keep your eyes on Jesus more?
Jennifer Heeren has always loved to write. For more than a decade, she has enjoyed writing encouraging blog messages. She loves to write things that bring people hope and encouragement. Her cup is always at least half-full. She regularly contributes to Crosswalk.com and has also been published on ChristianDevotions.us. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia with her husband. Visit her at www.jenniferheeren.com.
Publication date: April 29, 2014