Are you afraid of fear?

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. Isaiah 41:10

Have you ever noticed that the stuff people fear is hardly ever happening right now? It's in the future - maybe a split second from now, maybe years from now. But seldom right now.

That's true whether the fears are stirred by a public speaking obligation, a possible bankruptcy, or an imminent illness. We get scared about what might occur in coming moments or years.

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I was pondering that recently, recalling the many times I'd been in anguish over what was about to come, when I remembered the above passage from Isaiah. For years that Bible verse has comforted me, as it has countless other people. But I had not previously appreciated how it addresses both why we don't have to be fearful now and why the future doesn't have to loom darkly.

Then I noticed how the verse begins in the present tense ("I am with thee"), but then shifts to the future tense ("I will help thee"). A wave of relief washed over me. How could I be afraid of what was about to happen, when what was really about to happen was God strengthening me, helping me, and upholding me? Talk about your fear-quelling assurances! The Bible, in that single passage, enables a reader to see a today filled with fearlessness, not dread, and a tomorrow filled with promise, not threat.

How heartening, how wonderfully direct, to receive that message in God's own voice. It's not just a statement about God. It's a statement by God. "Fear thou not; for I am with thee." Right there, we're told not to be afraid. And we're told why. The reason is as straightforward as can be. God, the one power, is with us. Right now.

Maybe bad circumstances tower over you, demanding your attention. Debt, family problems, a serious illness - they can all seem so daunting. Even that curiously circular thought-pattern in which a person becomes afraid of being afraid - even the fear of fear - can loom hugely over one's life. But far greater is God's assurance of His presence, and of His status as the one omnipotent God.

"Yes, I know God is here," it's easy to counter, "but so is this scary threat. I'll need something more tangible than prayers to God."

Oh really? The Bible makes clear that, from God's point of view, His presence is enough. His being with us, His being our God, is enough to erase all fear and all anxiety. God doesn't see us as needing some additional remedy beyond His presence. And if God doesn't, why should we?

If you're viewing the divine presence as not enough, maybe you're not seeing Him as He truly is. Then try thinking of God as all-embracing Love, unerasable Life, all-powerful Truth. Think of God's true and dynamic nature. Gain an awareness of who and what God is, and see if fear doesn't make fewer inroads. See if the anxious chatter in your mind isn't quieted. See if, instead of being overwhelmed by messages of this fearful state of thought, you don't find God's ever-present message far more convincing - the message of Christ, the spirit of Love and the spirit of divine assurance.

Our part is to listen to and heed this message. "Christ is the true idea voicing good, the divine message from God to men speaking to the human consciousness," says Mary Baker Eddy in her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" (pg. 332).

God's message comes to us today, just as it did in the time of Jesus, with a big "BE NOT AFRAID," so powerfully voiced that it has healing force. This wonderful message is more than whispered in those words from Isaiah. It resounds throughout the whole record of Christianity. And because the voice of God is timelessly present, we can still hear His fear-stopping message today.

Not even the future needs to pose a threat, because God is letting you know He will strengthen you, help you, uphold you. These are the real events you have to look forward to. They open the way for fearless todays and tomorrows.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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