Have you ever been afraid of everything? Has your life been so driven by fear that you couldn’t function or think about anything else but the many fears overwhelming your mind?
That would describe me not long ago.
I had become so afraid of disease and death that I was no longer living a normal life. After a family member and a dear friend passed on during their battle with cancer, which medical science had not been able to cure, morbid imagination consumed many of my waking hours as well as my dreams at night. My fears became insurmountable as more family members struggled with physical ailments, including myself.
Throw in the worst drought in a century, which drastically impacted our way of life on our cattle ranch, along with other economic downturns on investments! My thoughts had become so consumed by my fears that I had to quit my job as well as other community activities. Life seemed filled with uncertainty and complications. Depression threatened to consume each day.
But through it all, I knew prayer offered refuge. I spent daily hours in quiet contemplation and reading as well as listening to inspirational music and the Christian Science Bible Lesson on my iPod.
For months I told the Christian Science practitioner who had been praying with me that I wasn’t sure I could ever get rid of all of my fears. Yet, I knew that God is Love, that God is good, that God is All—that I am a child of God. My study of Christian Science had taught me that God’s love for His children surely means He is “a very present help in trouble” (Psalms 46:1). That God’s goodness must certainly mean He wants only good for His children. And that the allness of God undoubtedly leaves no room for “evil” to have a permanent place or be a destructive force in our lives.
No matter what challenge was crossing my path, I inherently knew the real culprit I needed to conquer was fear. And I knew no matter what I did or where I looked for answers, God was with me and loved me. It was this assurance—even when I struggled to feel it—that kept me turning to God in prayer and kept me from losing all hope.
A turning point came one day when I was studying the Christian Science Bible Lesson. Words written by Mary Baker Eddy suddenly took on fresh meaning. She spoke of having “more faith in God than in man” and “more faith in living than in dying” (Science and Health, p. 368). The word “more” is what grabbed my attention.
I realized I didn’t have to be completely free of all fear or all beliefs of disease and dying. I just needed a little “more” faith in God’s direction, a little “more” faith in good and in life. And I thought to myself, “Of course I can have ‘more’ faith in God!”
Sometimes we only need to tilt that pendulum toward good the slightest bit to create a shift that will move us forward in the way we hope.
This fresh inspiration became powerful and transforming and led to more inspirations that continued to uplift and strengthen me.
I pondered the Bible’s story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (see Daniel, chapter 3). I have always treasured the image of these men walking through and in the fire and Christ with them the entire time. The thought that they could emerge from the fire unharmed, untouched, without even the smell of fire on them, inspires an encouragement that can’t be daunted regardless of our struggle.
This story taught me that we are all inseparable from God’s love, presence, touch, and care. In fact, some synonyms for inseparable include inseverable, undividable, unbreakable, as well as constant companions and bosom buddies. I love thinking of God and me as bosom buddies!
I started asking myself questions. Can I ever be in a scenario that separates me from God? Isn’t God always “in the midst” of wherever we are? Is God ever not guiding, directing, protecting His children? Is there ever anyone or anything in control of our life instead of God?
Fear is no longer the big bully stopping me from living my life.
I grew to realize that I could never remove myself from God’s control and government no matter what decision or action I take. And it was the Psalmist who reminded me of this truth: “If I make my bed in hell” or “dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea”—“even there” God’s love and presence would be with me (see Psalms 139:7–10). Even there! Wow!
After you’ve been harboring big fears for many months, it can be hard to let go of them. But a certain sense of God’s love and presence finally became more dominant in my thought than morbid fears.
We really can relish this certain sense. We can bathe ourselves daily in it. We can feel that “divine energy” that renews our life. Or as the complete passage by Mary Baker Eddy says: “Let us feel the divine energy of Spirit, bringing us into newness of life and recognizing no mortal nor material power as able to destroy. Let us rejoice that we are subject to the divine ‘powers that be’ ” (Science and Health, p. 249). We can rest in the peace of the knowledge of God’s ever-presence and infinite love. We can bask in it. Breathe it in. Ponder it.
No doubt it must have been this knowledge that allowed Jesus to rest even during a storm that was violently rocking the boat he was traveling on (see Mark 4:37–40). He was assured of his safety because he was assured of God’s love and care.
I may still have difficulties and challenges to face in my life, but I can sincerely tell you that fear is no longer the big bully stopping me from living my life.
We don’t have to just go with the flow of circumstances. Nor can any circumstance keep us from progress and activity. God summons us to live. You and I have an immortal mandate to do just that. A little “more” faith in God can enable us to live without fear!
Annette Bridges lives in Tioga, Texas.
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