Stress felt like it was seeping into every part of my life. Logically, I knew it was stemming from looming work deadlines, but it felt like it was bleeding into every facet of my being. I was overwhelmed, stressed, and fearful about seemingly everything. I felt far from God and far from my friends.
I’ve never been one to keep things contained. I don’t tend to compartmentalize. My insides felt like a black ink jar had broken open, staining everything.
I went to a church service and worshiped; I texted a friend to pray. I did everything I could to grit my teeth and muster my way around the fear. Faith trumps fear, doesn’t it?
And yet in the back of my mind I remembered the prayer the psalmist once prayed, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.”
Not if – but when.
Finally one morning, I collapsed on my favorite chair and earnestly prayed for wisdom, strength, and the capacity to continue. What struck me suddenly was that everything I was stressed over had once been an answer to prayer. My jobs, my relationships, my friendships, my church – each and every one of them had been something I’d asked God for.
How could I have so much fear over the gifts God had graciously given me?
I thought back to last year: I was afraid about a variety of different things then. And the year before that? More fear about other areas of my life. I considered the future: might I have things to be fearful of next year, or the following year, or the year after that? Based on my track record, I think so.
If there’s always something to be stressed about or fearful of, what could I do with my fear?
The gentle voice of Jesus spoke within me: What if this fear is an invitation to trust Me?
I thought about that for a moment. Jesus invites us to cast our cares – our worries, our burdens, our stress, our overwhelm, our fear – onto Him. Most of the time, I’d prefer to hold onto my fear. I can trick myself into thinking I have control, and if I simply white-knuckle my way through, everything will be fine. But the truth is, I don’t have much control over anything, and holding onto my fear only makes me more fearful.
Could fear really be an invitation to trust?
Instead of falling for the idea that I need to muster up enough faith, or grit my teeth to make my way through my fear, could I instead accept Jesus’ kind and gentle invitation to trust Him with it?
Pastor Tyler Staton wrote, “The thing that calms fear isn’t faith, it’s trust. Faith is the assurance of what we hope for. Trust is confidence in the character of God.”
I remained sitting on my chair, but I closed my eyes and lifted up my hands. I listed every single thing I was afraid of – things I’d never articulated before – but I kept my palms splayed and open. I said, “Jesus, I give every one of these things to You. I hand them over to You. I choose to submit them all to You. When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You.”
I took a deep breath and opened my eyes again.
The fear hasn’t passed, not fully. But I am confident in the character of Jesus: kind, and good, and holy. He’s the most trustworthy Person in the world.
I’ll likely feel fear again, maybe even before the day is up. But I pray I’ll be reminded that my fear is an invitation to trust… and through that trust, an even greater invitation to be brought into deeper union with Jesus.
Ruth Mills says
I was in a gift shop this weekend & they have these statues of a pile of stones with words such as “gather good” “scatter kindness”. It made me think of the stones of Ebeneezer, except these replicas a) have easy sayings & b) the replicas are lightweight. I’ve always pictured the building of those stones of Ebeneezer to be hefty rocks manhandled by men to maneuver them on top of each other to be a lasting reminder of God’s kept promises to His people. The works of God aren’t easy platitudes but a real, tangible, presence in the midst of our fears & behind the scenes all for our good & His glory. When in doubt about the present or future, rehearsing His trustworthiness in the past brings peace & comfort in the unknown. The gift shop designers are tapping into that truth but they are missing the Person of our God! May we never miss opportunities to accept His invitation to trust Him. Thank you for sharing, Aliza! Blessings!
Christine Jackson says
This, I am sure resonates with all of us at some level. Thanks for putting it out there this morning.
I too get caught up in the “fear” trap and put myself on high alert. Thinking I have to swing into action to solve every problem that looms in life. Some days I feel like a mighty warrior. And you are so correct….many of the fears have already been answered in prayer. Sit calmly and trust.
How wonderful to be able to read this. Many thanks. Yes I have faith but it is the trust I need to work on.
I needed this. I loved this part: What struck me suddenly was that everything I was stressed over had once been an answer to prayer. My jobs, my relationships, my friendships, my church – each and every one of them had been something I’d asked God for.
What a perspective shift this is for me. Even now, as I am newly engaged and planning a wedding but looking past that and figuring out logistics of relocating, new job, apartment searching, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and anxious. BUT, this is an answer to one of the longest prayers for my heart, and I know I can trust and have confidence in God’s character…he is good, kind, faithful, sovereign and so much more!
WOW! I feel, what’s the word… I want to say targeted… but it’s probably convicted! Back in June, the wall were closing in on me. Stress, anxiety and overwhelm. Those were the words I finally came up. My career, my relationship, etc. ALL things I had prayed for! ugh… I didn’t have the sense to sit down and pray. One day it all just came crashing down. Because I did not trust God. I was seeking security from my partner. I didn’t realize until much later that my security comes from God. He is the one who sustains.
Aliza, thank you so much for sharing! I struggled with fear for most of my life! I still do sometimes! A few verses really bring me peace when I start feeling overwhelmed or fearful.. “There is no fear in love but God’s perfect love casts out all of our fear.” – 1 John 4:18 and John 10:10, The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. But Jesus has come that we may have life and have life to the full (life abundant)!
I hope these verses bring you some peace as they do for me. Sending love ❤️❤️
So good! Reminds me of something Ken Davis said, something like if you try to pull yourself up by your bootstraps all you’ll get is broken bootstraps. 🙂
Good Morning Aliza,
Very timely post, with all that’s been happening in the last, almost, 3 years. Most of us struggle to completely hand everything over to Jesus and, not take it back. 🙂
When we’re finally exhausted, we pray more truthfully, from our hearts, then, as you experienced, we start to feel that peace that Jesus promised us.
May our trust in Jesus continue to grow.
Thanks, Aliza! I often have these same reactions to fear. But you have offered a better way. Lord, help me choose it. Every time.
Jennifer Johnson says
Wow! I’m saving this one because I can relate to it so much it’s not even funny! Thanks for the encouragement!