Apr 24, 2020 08:00am
When Fear Knocks You Down Like a Tidal Wave

If you are anything like me, you worry about what you cannot control. 

You worry about things out of your reach. 

You worry about the unknown future, what tomorrow will bring, and sometimes, it becomes a tidal wave of turbulence that tends to knock your breath away. 

Have you ever been caught in a riptide? When the sea clings to you and you are in a vortex of salt and sand and a quagmire of cold, swirling water? 

Anxiety, to me, can sometimes be like that. If a wave can knock me off my feet, it is strong enough to suck me under and I feel like I can’t get out of its clutches…

But then sometimes all I have to do is stand up, and the waves won’t have as much power over me. But if I let myself get knocked down, if I listen to the waves . . .  They can feed off my fears for a very long time and only grow in power. 

If you are anything like me, that’s a scary place. A place we don’t like to admit exists to other people because the waves are our fears and attack us where we are the most vulnerable. 

Scriptures say to not give the devil even a foothold or else it might be easier for him to open the door (Ephesians 4:27). 

And that foothold is anything that takes our eyes off our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Remember the disciple Peter when he decided to impetuously jump out of the boat to walk on water with Jesus? What happened? He took his eyes off Jesus and looked at the wind and the waves and began to sink . . . But then he cried out for help. And Jesus saved him, while telling him he needed more faith. 

Peter got worried. He was afraid of drowning even though Jesus was right next to him – the one who controls the wind and the waves and created all of it. 

But isn’t this the same for me? For us? 

We look at the scary, terrifying things in our lives and freak out. And if we let him, Satan will continue to send waves and winds to incite fear, so our focus leaves the one who has power over all of it. 

Today, I’m writing to myself as much as I am to you. 

The COVID-19 pandemic was not a part of my plan – not at all. 

It was a massive wave that came crashing into millions of people’s lives. And if we allowed it to, it may have sucked some of us under. 

I lost a job that was supposed to pave” my way into the news industry and a way for me to gain much needed experience in the real world. 

I am separated from my husband indefinitely. He is currently in military training in a different state and is quarantined within the base. 

I am two weeks away from graduating with degrees in Bible and Multimedia Communications, and I’m not 100% sure what I’m supposed to do on a fulltime basis. I can’t even begin to apply for jobs because I have no idea where my husband will be stationed or when I will actually be able to live with him after almost a year apart. 

I’m terrified.

And instead of looking towards my Savior; I’ve allowed these events to whirlpool me away from the truth. 

What is that truth? 

I’ve never had control over my life anyway, despite feeling like I have. James the brother of Jesus reminds us of who is in control. 

“Look here, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.’ How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.’ Otherwise you are boasting about your own pretentious plans, and all such boasting is evil.” (James 4:13-16)

We have no idea what tomorrow will look like or bring, which is why Jesus said there’s no point in worrying over it:

“Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (Matthew 6:27, 34)

But that’s easier said than done, isn’t it? I suppose this is when that five-letter word comes in – faith. 

Faith is a committed trust. It’s believing in something we cannot see. It’s seeing the waves and hearing the roar of the sea and trusting that Jesus is more powerful. 

A simple children’s song says this: “My God is so big, so strong and so mighty there’s nothing my God can not do. The mountains are his, the rivers are his, the skies are his handywork too. He made the trees, he made the seas, he made the elephants too.” 

Faith is easy to see through the lens of a child. The world is huge and full of life, dreams and opportunity. Anything is possible when we are seven! Santa Claus is real, a Tooth Fairy gives us money, Easter bunnies leave behind eggs (why not an Easter chicken??), and God is easy to believe in. 

But at some point along the way, those rose-colored lens come off and a heavy dose of the world sets in. What used to be pretty waves with foam are now treacherous forces of death. 

What I’m reminding myself, even now, is that we are not alone in our oceans. If we can keep our eyes on our Lord and Savior, then maybe we can walk on the waters too.

God doesn’t promise to make all our problems magically disappear. But he will be our peace when they come; we just have to remember he is there and to listen to him first. 

Because fear can drown a person. 

Freeze a person.

Distract a person from God’s purpose. 

But the power of Jesus enables us to live a life worthy of his calling. God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgment (2 Timothy 1:7). 

Live in his power, and not your own. 

Live in his love, because perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). 

Live in sound judgment by seeking out the best – God’s Word. 

Let us not lose hope in this crisis; let us not succumb to fear. 

For our hope is in Jesus Christ and not of this world. 

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