Being a parent, I have had my share of panic-stricken minutes as I waited anxiously to hear if my child was okay. Fear is natural. But fear is distressing. We would prefer never to experience fear. But fear is an inevitable part of human experience.
When confronting our fears, the most important truth we can acknowledge is that God is God. All that happens to us is ultimately planned, purposed, and executed by Him. Accordingly, the basis for quelling our fears lies in our confidence that God will care for us, provide for us, and protect us. If God intends to protect us, nothing can harm us, for nothing can match His determinative control. He is God—the final authority on anything that can happen to us.
But is there any basis for such confidence? Can we believe that God intends our well-being rather than our harm? Nothing we know from the Bible can reasonably lead us to expect that we who are God’s children are immune from harm and suffering. That simply is not the case.
So where does that leave us? If we simply observe the pattern of God’s control over His creation, we learn something crucial. Providential care and provision are the norm; harm and destruction are the exception. God’s typical stance toward us is to protect, to provide, to nurture, and to care for us. God deviates from this pattern only when He has some other purpose in mind. We suffer when God, in His wisdom, wants to accomplish something constructive in our lives through that suffering. Then and only then does God break the pattern of His generally benevolent providence. This, then, is the basis for our confidence.
All this is fine and good. We can grasp these perspectives with our intellect. But for many of us, doing so does not stop the worrying. How do we stop worrying when our anxiety seems to be out of our control?
I do believe that the ultimate antidote to worry is a conviction that the things outlined above are true. From the core of our beings, we must take it as given that God will keep us from all ultimate harm whatsoever and from all temporal harm except that which He ordains for a greater good. If we can truly accept this, there will be no room for fear. How do we believe this truth from the core of our beings? How do we allow it to define our very existences? How do we quiet our imaginations? We may not be able to quiet them altogether, but we need not heed them.
Fear is natural. We are limited, relatively powerless, finite creatures. We are also sinners who tend to credit the flights of our imaginations with more substance than is due them. So fear is perfectly understandable. But, for those of us who are striving to know God and to live our lives in the light of His truth, it is incumbent upon us to confront our fears with the truth about God: God is always working in our lives to bring about what is good, and usually that means He will provide, protect, and care for us. If we believe this is true about God, then although we will still experience fear, it will neither paralyze nor rule us.