By Martin E. Willoughby, Jr.
Mark Twain once said, “I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.” I can identify with Twain’s point. Generally, I am a “glass half full” kind of person and I always look for the silver lining in difficult situations. However, there are times when fear can creep into life and be gripping and overwhelming.
We all face Goliaths in our life. These are those large, imposing challenges that seem to be impossible to defeat. Perhaps you can relate. Maybe it is a health concern or financial issues that seem insurmountable. Maybe it is a rebellious child or ailing parent that leads to constant worry. Just like the Israelites on the battlefield, we can get paralyzed in our fear.
Our brain’s structure does not help us much either. The amygdala is often referred to as the “Lizard Brain.” This almond size part of our brain provides us with our most primal instincts of fear, hunger, and arousal. This part of our brain tries to protect us from harm. Unfortunately, it shouts so loudly it can trump the voice of the more rational parts of our brain. The Lizard Brain is great if I am being chased by a grizzly bear, but not very helpful if I am trying make difficult choices in modern life. How do we quiet this Lizard Brain and push through our fears? As followers of Christ, we are blessed to have a path.
One of my favorite verses is 1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” I also like, Matthew 6:34, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” In these and related Scriptures, we are encouraged not to worry but instead to, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.” God created us and knows our deepest fears and insecurities. The question is whether we will lay them at His feet. Sometimes we don’t even want to acknowledge them with ourselves much less bring them to our Father.
In a business setting, I often share with people the idea that “two people should not worry about the same problem.” I also believe this principle applies in our journey as a follower of Christ. In the verses referenced above and others, we are specifically told not to worry. However, this is easier said than done. It begs the question of why Jesus tells us not to worry when we are so good at it! I think it is because of His love for us. I think about when my children face a daunting challenge or problem. Because of my love for them, I want to take away their burdens. I want them to be happy and not overwhelmed by life’s stressors.
When I visit with people who seem to be calm and peaceful in the midst of life’s turmoil, I find a common theme that they rest assured in God’s sovereignty. They know He is in control. This does not mean they are passive, but instead, they do what they can and leave the rest to God. They seek His will for their lives and focus on God’s goodness and love. It is easy to have a short-term memory about how God provides for us in our times of need. That is part of why keeping a God journal is so important. As you begin the New Year, I pray that God will meet you right where you may be struggling the most, and that He will wrap you in His love and peace. Happy New Year!