What are you afraid of?
I don’t mean heights or small spaces or spiders or the dark or creepy clowns or waking up to find the world is purple and your dog is actually a sentient alien spying on you.
What are you truly afraid of? What are your deepest fears? Maybe you don’t even realize it, but you’re terrified of rejection, of not being loved. Maybe you’re scared of following the same sad patterns as your father or mother. Perhaps the thought of failure chills you to the bone. Or you might be scared of never having enough, never being enough.
We all have fears like that. I do.
Many of us can relate to a fear of failure. Do you ever find that the more you struggle with that fear, the more you fail? And the more you fail, the more your mistakes reinforce those fears? You look to your next endeavor, and a voice inside whispers, “You really think you’ll make it? Look what happened last time. Set your goals a little lower. That way you won’t be so disappointed when you fall short—again.”
Or say you’re afraid of loneliness, of having no friends. That fear consumes you until you wonder if maybe you’re unlovable—who would want to be with someone like you? And the more you think it, the more you see it’s true. You have no real friends. You were right all along. And the fear-monster tightens its grip.
In anything, really—not just fears—don’t you find that the more you think something, the more you see it? And the more you see it, the more it reinforces those thoughts? And as those thoughts grow stronger, you see even more evidence of them in your life? It’s an endless cycle, but it doesn’t have to be a bad one.
Because faith works indiscriminately in the positive and the negative.
We can all agree that Job had it pretty rough, yes? His livestock and servants, his material wealth—gone, poof. His children—dead under the rubble of a destroyed house. He didn’t have anything left.
Now, I know that Satan shuffled up to God and obtained his permission to test Job (and I have far more questions about that than I have answers), but it seems that Job himself played a part in bringing about his own downfall.
“What I always feared has happened to me,” he said. “What I dreaded has come true.” (Job 3:25, NLT) What was he afraid of? The first chapter of Job tells us he daily made sacrifices to atone for his children, thinking that perhaps they’d sinned and cursed God in their hearts.
He was afraid of punishment. He was afraid of destruction.
And that is exactly what swept through his life.
What we believe—really, truly, deep down believe—we attract into our lives. A person who thinks of himself as a loser attracts a loser kind of life. He finds himself gravitating toward other losers, gets a second-rate job, and sees everything through a defeated mindset. A person who thinks of himself as a winner attracts an amazing life. He starts spending time with great people who are growing and successful and encouraging. He finds doors opening, and those that don’t open, he kicks down because he knows he can. He sees life through the eyes of a winner.
The more the loser looks around at his lackluster world, and the more he listens to his crab-bucket-mentality friends, the more he sees that, “Yep, this is just how life is. This is who I am, and I shouldn’t expect anything better.” The more he thinks that, the more his world will conform to be that.
The more the winner looks around at his marvelous world, and the more his positive crowd rubs off on him, the more he sees opportunity hidden in the obstacles. He realizes that life is beautiful, that he can, and that he’s meant for great things. The more those thoughts cement themselves in his heart, the more his world will conform to back them up.
Both people may have the exact same opportunity placed before them, but the former person will look at it and think, “Oh, that’s too much. I could never do that/be that/deal with that stress. I’m just not the person for that.” And he rejects the opportunity. The latter individual will nod and say, “Wow—that’s so much more than what I’m used to, but I can do it. I can grow and develop and go to the next level in life.” He’ll walk through that door and thrive.
“For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7a, NKJV)
What are you afraid of? What do you think of yourself? (Those two questions are more closely related than you might think.) Those fears need to be dealt with, or else they hold the potential to kill you. Maybe not physically, but fear can draw into your life the very things you’re afraid of. Those things will destroy relationships, your thought life, and anything else they touch. Go to your Creator, lay those crippling chains at His feet, and discover His perfect love. It casts out all fear.
Afraid of rejection? God promises He’ll never leave you or forsake you. Afraid of repeating the mistakes of your parents? God says you are a new creation—the old has passed away and the new has come. Afraid of failing? God declares that you’re spotless before Him, and it has nothing to do with your successes or failures.
This love, this perfect, radiant, relentless love, drives out fear.
Knowing how loved you are gives rise to hope.
Hope of good things to come gives rise to faith.
And faith, the full confidence that what you hope for is here, now, whether or not you see it just yet . . . will draw in the physical evidence of that faith like iron to a magnet.
Fear and faith—both ask you to believe in what you cannot see.
Which will you listen to?