Defanging Fear

“Drifting in through cracks in the floorboards or filtering down like a chilling mist, the fog called Fear whispers omens of the unknown and the unseen. Surrounding individuals with its blinding, billowy robe, the creature hisses, ‘What if . . .what if . . .?’ One blast of its awful breath transforms saints into atheists, reversing a person’s entire mind-set. Its bite releases paralyzing venom in its victims, and it isn’t long before doubt begins to dull the vision. To one who falls prey to this attack, the creature displays no mercy.”

 Charles R. Swindoll, Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life

 The angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.

Luke 2: 10, New Living Translation

             Did you realize that the first message of Christmas as it was announced to the shepherds by the angel was: stop being afraid! Fear not, for I bring good tidings of joy . . . Christ the Lord is born. This means that the holiday of Christmas is a fear-ending celebration. The good news of our Savior’s birth is greater and thus, overcomes whatever fears hold us. This good news, or gospel, defangs the fears that haunt us. We no longer have to cower in fear; we face our fears and strip their power over us.

            Here’s how: start by personifying fear. I imagine fear to look like a sharply-dressed, super-slick salesman. He knows all the smooth lines. He has all the comebacks. He is as convincing as anything. Fear makes a compelling case that the worst is yet to come. Fear whispers that this awful thing will happen to you, for sure. Yes, fear is convincing, but fear is ultimately unreliable and just wrong.

            So the next time fear shows us, keep a record of what fear promises will happen. Then, track what actually does take place and hold fear accountable. Imagine that smooth-talking salesman slinking off to his high-end luxury sedan for his get-away. Fear never sticks around, he just returns later with more bad-news predictions of the future. Before you let fear drive away, ask fear: “Hey pal, you said that this, this, and this would happen. None of it happened. Why not?” The more you see how unreliable fear is, the less you trust fear when it starts whispering.

            Replace fear with gratitude; for when we thank God we’re going on record for the faithful and good news that have happened to us. If fear traffics in the unknown; gratitude roots me in the known goodness of my God.  I picture gratitude like my Aunt Hazel. Aunt Hazel was the first woman I knew who had blue hair. She was a big woman with a warm heart. It was a tradition among my brothers and cousins that when you got your driver’s license, the first place you went was to take Aunt Hazel for a ride. She said the same thing about every one of her grandnephews and nieces, “He is the best driver I’ve ever seen!” Gratitude is much like that wise woman.