When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.
I remember her telling me, “Don’t let fear steal your joy.”
And I do, too much of the time.
Like with my first pregnancy and all the exciting rush in the first few days of knowing we were going to have a baby.
It lasted a day or two before quickly being replaced by fear. A million what-if’s and hypothetical situations, dangerous unknowns and general uncertainty left me tossing and turning at night. It doesn’t help when you open up the pregnancy books and find the necessary-but-terrifying information about miscarriages, risks, statistics, tests and more.
I probably didn’t have so much a mother-to-be glow as a ghostly shade of I-can’t-sleep-at-night.
But my mother-in-law told me not to let fear steal my joy, and that is what I thought about in the weeks between a positive pregnancy test and the first time I actually felt the baby move or saw a healthy little life on an ultrasound screen or even held her in my arms in a hospital bed.
I bought two little newborn sleepers (neutral green, of course, not knowing yet whether we’d have a boy or girl) and I folded one up and slipped it under my pillow. In the moments I was tempted to fear at night, I slipped my hand underneath the pillow case and felt the joy.
And even if I didn’t “feel” it, I knew the joy was there; it was the determined refusal to be afraid.
You really can’t enjoy the gifts God has given, you know, if you’re fearful at the same time. They are mutually exclusive conditions.
As Kay Warren wrote in Choose Joy:
“Joy is not about happy feelings. It’s a settled assurance about God. A quiet confidence in God. And a determined choice to praise God in all things.”
That “settled assurance” and “quiet confidence” that God can take care of us no matter what and that no circumstance is outside of His control, negates all those fears that somehow the worst possible thing could happen.
Because even in the worst thing:
God is with you.
He will carry you.
He is still in control.
He remains mighty.
Yet, somehow we move so quickly from gratitude over a gift and that one brief moment of rejoicing into an anxiety ridden fear that “the other shoe will fall” or somehow it’s “too good to be true” or that there must be something terribly wrong hidden in the silver lining.
Or God comes through for us and relieves us of one fear, and we just so quickly replace it with another.
“Great! Now I’m worried that…..” or “I’m glad that’s over. Now I’m just afraid….”
Take the time to rejoice.
Truly pause the whirlwind of thoughts and give thanks, praise, breathe in and out the freedom of joy….and refuse to trade that in for the suffocation of fear.
When those twelve spies walked out of the wilderness between Egypt and Canaan and stepped foot on that Promised Land soil for the very first time, they had a choice to make.
Did they remember all of those miraculous victories, rescues and provisions on their journey and confidently trust that God would continue to care for them?
Or did they throw out a quick, “Thanks, God, that was all great. But now I’m just too afraid that the giants here are undefeated and the obstacles insurmountable?”
Ten of those spies rushed past joy, practically leapt right over it, and scrambled quickly into fear.
And the fear was contagious:
Then the whole community broke into loud cries, and the people wept that night. All the Israelites complained about Moses and Aaron, and the whole community told them, “If only we had died in the land of Egypt, or if only we had died in this wilderness! Why is the Lord bringing us into this land to die by the sword? Our wives and little children will become plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?” So they said to one another, “Let’s appoint a leader and go back to Egypt.”
Joshua and Caleb tried to tell them truth: The Lord is with us. He can do this. “Don’t be afraid” (Numbers 14:9).
But when your heart and mind is set on fear, it’s hard to hear the truth. So, they didn’t listen, just closed their ears right up to the promises of God and spent an entire generation wandering in the desert and missing out on God’s very best as a result.
Fear is costly that way. It always steals joy.
Here’s the promise for us, though.
When your heart and mind is set on truth, it’s hard to feel the fear.
Tuck that under your pillow tonight and remember the joy.
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in November 2013! To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2013 Heather King