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Healthy Fear: Identifying Values and Mirroring the Messiah’s Love

Anxiety, worry, and stress all result from an underlying pulse of unhealthy fear. No one is immune and control is an illusion. What are you tempted to fear most, and what does it say about the things you value? How can we tell between healthy fear and an unhealthy one?



Things We Love

What are some important things in your life? You can probably rattle off a few pretty quickly. My thoughts immediately go to my kids, turning in my grad papers on time, and protecting Thursday night quality time with my man.

Now, I did not say the most important thing—just the stuff that instantly springs to mind. Likely, there is nothing bad about these priorities individually. However, depending on the level of passion we display to protect them, healthy fear can be thrown out of balance before we realize it. As a result, we begin to worry.

Anxiety, worry, and stress all result from unhealthy fear. How can we tell between healthy fear and unhealthy? What does it say about the things we value? Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #afraid #assurance #fear #hope #judgment #priorities #value

Unhealthy Fear

It was recently brought to my attention which unhealthy fear sits at the top of my list. It is not a phenomenon. Actually, it’s quite common.

How was I enlightened? Well, among three categories (money and possessions — people and their judgments — death, pain, and punishment) I had to answer which one I am most tempted to fear. Before reading into each classification I assumed it would end up being pain. While that certainly is not appealing, the prospect of pain is surprisingly low on my list of daily anxieties.

A few weeks ago, I would have confidently said I don’t care what others think about me because I know who I am in Christ.

Turns out, I have a persnickety care meter.

Actions Speak Loudly

It is not what we say, but what we do that defines us. For instance, I say I like to go camping—which is very true—but I haven’t been in three years. I like the idea of hiking and being out in nature is extremely soothing and grounding. Yet despite my ultra-hip metal REI coffee mug, no one would classify me as an outdoorsy chick.

When I started thinking about what controls my routine thoughts, it wasn’t fear of getting into an accident or the ravages of cancer. Now, I don’t want to diminish the suffering those circumstances bring. It is simply to say they do not linger at the forefront of my worries. In relation to pain, I have a healthy fear of the Lord. Suffering is an inevitable part of life, but not a thing to live in fear of. I trust to have grace for what will come.

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:16, ESV

What Fear Reveals

Remarkably (to me anyway), fear of people and their judgments crossed my finish line with flying colors. Oddly enough, I sense it the most with strangers.

When I’m in my car I’ll feel myself getting anxious over what another driver might be thinking when I take the right-of-way. I wonder if other motorists get frustrated with me when I fail to go as fast as they clearly want to on a two-lane road. In check-out lines, I tend to hang back so the person in front of me doesn’t feel rushed by my presence. Also, I act overly cordial, even giving apologetic smiles to other patients in waiting rooms when my number is called. But why?

I consider myself to be polite, but I will be honest. I know my overt friendliness toward people, whom I will likely never see again, is for the sake of my own comfort. My fear is betraying me. It has a spotlight on what I crave. It’s screaming what is important to me: My reputation and the respect and adoration of people.

The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.

Proverbs 29:25, ESV

Calming Fear

How do we find a healthy fear balance? We have heard to “Love God and love others.” Amen. But those are thirty thousand-foot directions. God knows we will wrestle with fear. He repeatedly says in His Word, “Do not fear,” “Do not be afraid,” “Do not be anxious.” These are not empty words to get us to be quiet or chill out. God is not annoyed by our anxieties like we may be with one another.

I’ve been guilty of saying something meant to soothe, but I delivered it with a self-serving motive. “Just turn your lamp on and go back to bed. You’ll be okay.” (Please don’t wake me up again.) “You know it’ll work out…” (I don’t want to step into your pain.)

History is proof that human beings are fickle in the help department. At best, they’re unreliable sources of protection. Yahweh, on the other hand, has always proven trustworthy.

God Speaks to Fear

When God tells us not to be afraid or anxious, He always follows up with promises, assurances, direction, and hope.

  • I am with you
  • I will strengthen you
  • I will uphold you
  • I care for you
  • I will give you peace
  • I will guard your heart
  • I have redeemed you
  • I will never leave you or forsake you
  • I will rescue you
  • I will fight for you
  • I provide for you
  • I am the First and the Last
  • I sustain you
  • I will help you
  • I keep you safe
  • I will deliver you

Take some time to meditate on these passages. [Deuteronomy 3:22, 31:6; Psalm 34:7, 55:22, 118:6-7; Proverbs 29:25; Isaiah 35:4, 41:10, 13-14, 43:1; Luke 12:22-26; Philippians 4:6-7; 1 Peter 5:6-7; Revelation 1:17-18]

When God tells us not to be afraid or anxious, He always follows up with promises, assurances, direction, and hope. Click To Tweet

The Way Ahead

There is only one path forward to effectively vanquish unhealthy fear. First, we seek to know the character and power of Jehovah. Then we practice living the way Jesus modeled for us. His love enables us.

We love because He first love us.

1 John 4:19, ESV

My fears say I want and expect to be loved by everyone, including people who don’t know me. Jesus was not loved by everyone, even the people who had heard about His stellar reputation. Many were more suspicious of His healing power than accepting of it. His hometown even rejected Him. As His follower, why do I assume I will be treated better than the Son of God?

Healthy Fear

Let us ask the Father of mercies to do a work through His Spirit to create the kind of love in us that mirrors His own. This is not easily won, and we can turn methods of “loving others” into ploys to extract more love for ourselves—I’ve done it—so be alert!

If you struggle with fear of man, practice loving others more than you love yourself. That doesn’t mean befriending everyone, but the things they think—perceived or known—will not hold the same weight they once did. This way won’t be free of heartache, of course. Being dismissed is painful. But it will no longer have the ability to derail your allegiance to Jesus Christ.

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear Him who can destroy both body and soul in hell.

Matthew 10:28, ESV

If we have a healthy fear of Almighty God, the One who loves us and sent His Son to die for us, what is there to fear more? Our hope and our safety have already been secured in Jesus.

If we have a healthy fear of Almighty God, the One who loves us and sent His Son to die for us, what is there to fear more? Our hope and our safety have already been secured in Jesus. Click To Tweet

Anxiety, worry, and stress all result from unhealthy fear. How can we tell between healthy fear and unhealthy? What does it say about the things we value? Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #afraid #assurance #fear #hope #judgment #priorities #value

unsplash-logoStaffan Kjellvestad
future, assurance, path, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Path: Trusting God with the Opening and Closing Doors

Sometimes the pain of a door closing seems insurmountable, but God’s got our backs. And our fronts. Just walk the path through the door. 



I’m sure you have heard the saying “one door closes and another one opens.” God has a path for your future. Trust that…

Wide Open

When I was in high school I played basketball. I loved it! Of course, games were great and winning was amazing, but I even loved practice. Running suicides, stairs, sprints, shooting, defending, all of it. I loved it, maybe more than anything else about my high school career. That is not to say I was very good, but if enthusiasm and desire can make up for lack of talent then I was incredible.

The last game of my senior year was in a tournament. We won our first round game. In the semifinals for the first time, we were super excited. At halftime, we were down, but just by a few. In the fourth quarter, we pulled ahead and played back and forth with the opponents. In the last few seconds, we fell to 4 points back. Two seconds left we were down by 2. And time ran out. We lost.

Sometimes the pain of a door closing seems insurmountable, but God's got your back. And your front. Just walk the path through the door. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

Closed Door

I don’t remember how I got off the court and into the locker room. I remember crying inconsolably on the bench. Huge racking sobs that came from deep inside my soul. Not because we had lost – that had happened plenty, but because I knew I would never play basketball like that again.

The door closed…

When doors close it is often painful. You know that change is coming, the familiar comfort is no longer there and uncertainty is scary.

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

James 1:2-4, NLT

Front and Back

As high school ended for me and college began, I was excited and scared to death. Leaving home and going to a school where I knew one person out of 22,000 and hadn’t even seen them in two years was daunting. My first class at UNC was in Phillips Hall. The room sat five hundred students. My graduating class in high school was ten. Overwhelming is an understatement.

The door opened…

Luckily God put friends and experiences in my path that made my 4 1/2 years at college amazing. (I changed my major a few times and ended up needing an extra semester.) I admit, my college career was not always perfect or Godly. In fact, I stumbled more than I would like to admit in that time, but God had my front and my back.

The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.

Psalm 121:7-8, NLT

Walk Through the Door

I knew when I went to school I was going to be an actress and end up on Broadway. The lights of fame and fortune were going to be mine. Then I didn’t get a part in the first play I tried out for. While for some people that would just be a stumbling block, I felt an inner voice tell me it was time for a new dream.

The door closed…

Then I took a class on the United Nations. We participated in a World Health Council exercise about the human rights of women. It was incredible! I was so appalled by what I learned and inspired by the perseverance of women around the world. The word “education” came up again and again as a way to combat the atrocities that happen to women around the world. I felt that word weigh on me.

My mom was a teacher and I had sworn I would never be a teacher too. Haha! God has a funny sense of humor. I knew as soon as I registered with the school of education that I had made the right decision. The lightness in my heart and conviction in my spirit was proof.

The door opened…

Fulfilling Path

In the end, I studied for a career I know God has called me to and He led me to a life path that is fulfilling and fruitful.

Doors close…

Doors open…

The Lord gives his people strength. The Lord blesses them with peace.

Psalm 29:11, NLT

Be grounded in God's word so when a door closes in life we can have His assurance that a new one will open. We are weak and limited in vision, but He is our guide. Click To Tweet

Dear God,

Thank you for being the Light to my path. Help me to have my eyes open for Your work in my life. Keep me grounded in your word so that when a door closes in my life I can have Your assurance that a new one will open. I know that I am weak and limited in vision. Thank you for being my guide.

Love,

me

Sometimes the pain of a door closing seems insurmountable, but God's got your back. And your front. Just walk the path through the door. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional