DAY #6

John 14:27

I drew back in fear from reporting a sexually-harassing boss once. I knew I’d lose my job if I pushed my agenda. Watching the boss go on to harass several others, I came to hate my cowardice. 

Many Greek words translate into “fear” in the New Testament, but three appear most frequently: eulabeia means reverence, phobos means anxiety, and deilos means cowardice. God does not condemn feelings of fear, but He does call us away from cowardice. Cowardice is allowing feelings of fear to drive our choices. Cowardice leads to a lifestyle of avoidance. While God understands our weakness, He knows this basic law of human psychology: Avoidance increases fear. 

All of the anxiety-related disorders, including PTSD, OCD, social anxiety, specific phobia, and the rest, involve patterns of avoidance. The flawed reasoning goes like this: If I’m afraid of something, I avoid it, and the fear goes away. End of story. But fear doesn’t work that way. The truth is that each time we avoid something out of fear, we imply to our own unconscious minds that it is dangerous. And fear increases.  

Now, there is a place for avoidance. If I DON’T avoid ACTUAL danger, say, a dog who happens to be foaming at the mouth, or an abusive spouse, or a gun-toting racist, I have another issue. But avoidance of non-threats—a problem with most anxiety disorders—reinforces the irrational fear residing in the substrata of my psyche, and puts me out of sync with reason and reality. 

Every treatment for anxiety involves facing triggers. Through structured, graduated, collaboratively-planned exposure, individuals raise their trigger tolerance. They stay in their triggering situations long enough for the nervous system to habituate. In other words, anxiety treatment is, at its core, courage training. As the person faces fears, their self-respect returns along with their sensible, rational approach to life. 

But we can’t face these fears on our own. Think of a fear you’d like to face, and imagine yourself taking the hand of Jesus and walking toward that fear instead of away from it. Now do the same with another fear. Imagine yourself having courage, hand in hand with Jesus. 

Pray with me. Oh, courage-giving God! Thank You for helping us sort out our fears from the useful ones to the fears that keep us from living fully and freely. And thank You for then filling us with your power to walk toward, instead of away from, the phony fears based on the lies of the enemy. Keep the power flowing! In Jesus’ courageous name, Amen. 

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27

For mental health counseling, coaching, and other resources, you can visit abide.network.

80 thoughts on “DAY #6

  1. Katrina

    Hi Everyone
    I believe Jesus is holding my hand through my fears. My daily goal is to be able to face my fears rationally and realistically as a witness of God and His love to my children, husband, community. I’m thankful for Jesus, my source of hope and courage. This is in some easier said than done but very doable in Jesus.

    Reply
  2. Lisa Reynoso

    I would never have described myself as a fearful or anxious person. I can’t think of any specific thing I’m afraid of. That said, I have a son who has extreme anxiety about something (he was officially diagnosed), and I need to find a way for him to face his fear in a safe way. For this I need wisdom and probably some courage as well. Being a parent is probably my biggest source of anxiety now.

    Reply
  3. belinda

    I have had debilitating anxiety most of my adult life that I wasn’t good enough and was innately and irreparably broken so I avoided close relationships with anyone- and I was soo lonely! Courage to allow people in has been and is my greatest struggle but God is teaching me everyday what it means to live in his strength and not my own. Thankyou for the beautiful meditation today

    Reply
    1. Onieka

      I resonate with this as well. You are strong and amazing! I’m glad you are seeing God working with and through you.

      Reply
  4. Erin D

    Irrational fears are a BIG issue for me. I have seemingly irrational fears about nearly everything in my life, my marriage, my friendships, family relationships, I’m afraid to leave my house at times, afraid to go anywhere alone, afraid to walk my dogs. What started out as anxieties has become more and more debilitating due to also being in chronic pain which makes me feel like I’m weaker and more vulnerable to potential threats. Some of these fears stem from singular incidents that then seem to cement danger in my mind to anything associated. It’s an ongoing battle to fight my fears and rely on Christ to be my strength and protection.

    Reply
    1. Steve

      Can so relate to the “ongoing battle” Erin. Sometimes I can get so caught up with “fighting” the fears that I can miss the step of “accepting” them.

      Reply
  5. Megan

    My main fear is other people. I’ve always been an introvert, but social anxiety never really dominated until I experienced medical gaslighting, traumatic invalidation from someone that I looked up to, and a sense of being abandoned during long seasons of grief and loss. In my mind, people are dangerous. They hurt you, then leave you to pick up the pieces while they move on. Jesus is the exception. The One who has always been there. For me, courage looks like getting up in the morning. I pray it can be more, in time.

    Reply
    1. Onieka

      Wow. I am so sorry you had to experience this. I’m glad you see Jesus as the One who has always been there. Praying for you as well.

      Reply
  6. Sharon

    So many fears to choose from… My biggest one, at least right now, is asking for help. I NEVER ask for help, no matter how much I might need it. For two reasons. One, I learned the hard way at a very young age to never trust another person. Two, I was taught growing up that needing help was a sign of ignorance, weakness, or both, all of which were unquestioningly declared to be sin. And I was not allowed to say or do anything sinful, because that would reflect badly on my family. So I never ask for help, even when I KNOW I need it. And far too often, that refusal to ask for help extends to God.

    Reply
      1. Sharon

        Thank you so much for clarifying. When I read your response, my first thought was “That makes sense.” As I’ve pondered it more, I’ve realized that I’ve spent the vast majority of my life in some sort of survival mode. Then I realized that if vulnerability is necessary to experience love, that would help explain why I’ve always struggled with feeling God’s love for me. Which then led to the realization that if I’ve spent most of my life surviving, not being able to feel God’s love (and all of the other dysfunction/bad habits/overall mess that survival mode creates) is actually a legitimate response. Not good or healthy, but nevertheless real and legitimate. That lifted a huge burden for me, because I’ve always struggled with the belief that I’m beyond hope, too far gone for God to possibly save me. For the first time in my life, I (and my struggles) am a real, legitimate human being. And that means God can do something with me. My heart and mind are just exploding with hope and potential right now. I just don’t have words right now. Thank you. Thank You God, and thank you Jen for letting Him use you and speak through you.

        Reply
  7. Valerie

    Today I want to fully live out the potential and ability God has given me. For much of my life I’ve had a fear of excellence for fear of being seen as proud, or for fear of becoming proud! Many who know me might think I do excel, but there are many times when I hold back because of these fears. I want to face these confused fears and live all out for God, knowing that He’s the one who gave me everything I am and can and that means that I have nothing to be proud of, and nothing to be afraid of.

    Reply
  8. Vanessa

    Reflecting a bit, I think I have a fear of speaking up. I don’t know at which point in my life I grew more and more silent…but, at times, when I have a chance to speak, my heart starts racing and I decide to stay quiet. I believe what I have to contribute is valuable, so I wonder why it stops there. I don’t know if it’s the possibility of rejection or the situation not changing…but I believe Jesus can 1) help me overcome and 2) give me my voice back.

    Reply
    1. Jennifer Schwirzer

      I’ve sometimes stayed silent because I don’t want to hurt people’s feelings. But I’ve come to realize I was really afraid to hurt my own feelings when they got mad at me for what I said–which hurt!

      Reply
  9. Steve

    “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, liars shall all have their place in the lake of fire ..” (Revelation 21:7-8)
    Of all the scriptures, this one has been one of the most disturbing to me.
    With God understanding just how crippling fear has been in my life, and how firmly Satan has had me in his dirty grip, why on earth would God cast me out?
    And why would he lump cowardice/running from fear with those other more hurtful sins?
    These are the questions I have put to Him in moments of anger and utter despair as I imagine Jesus saying to me upon his return “I never knew you!”

    Reply
    1. Sabrina Petersen

      Steve, I know that the picture of God that we see in the Bible is not a God who rejects us just because we are struggling with something. I think of the experience of Elijah who fled in fear of Jezebel’s threats; God was so merciful and loving in the way that He pursued Elijah, even providing food for Elijah as he fled. And then there’s Psalm 103:14 which says that God “remembers that we are dust.” He understands our weaknesses and fallen tendencies.

      I think the group mentioned in Revelation is a group that has chosen to live in fear (cowardice) and turn away from the “perfect love that casts out fear.” They have become content/fixed, so to speak, in their cowardice.

      Reply
    2. Jennifer Schwirzer

      Maybe I can help a little. The word in that passage is deilios, which is rarely used, and means cowardice. Cowardice isn’t feelings of fear, it is a self-obsessed self-protectiveness, a lifestyle of capitulating to the flesh while disobeying the Spirit. It’s a long-cherished way of living versus the emotional ups and downs that make us human.

      Reply
      1. Steve

        Am going to need some time pondering that definition to see if in fact it really is cowardice rather than simply fear. Thank you (I think!)

        Reply
  10. Sabrina Petersen

    I’ve struggled a lot with the fear of being alone in life, of never finding someone to do life together with. It’s not a constant fear, but it crops up during times when I find myself feeling particularly vulnerable. I want to overcome this fear by accepting Jesus’ love which casts out fear. With Him, I am never alone.

    Reply
  11. Sarah

    Knowing and believing God’s acceptance of me has not been difficult, but I struggle with fear of people. I’m an introvert and have often been misunderstood throughout life, which has left me lonely on many occasions, especially in my teenage and young adult years. Those experiences were difficult, but I was wasn’t afraid because my family loved and accepted me and I did have a small handful of friends who did, as well. But a few years ago I spent three years living and working with “friends” who I thought understood and accepted me for who I was. I trusted them. But they emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually abused me and the refugees we were supposedly helping. First, they cut me off from communicating with my family and my true friends, convincing me that they (the abusers) understood me better and the others couldn’t be trusted. One of the things they did over and over was to manipulate circumstances so that whenever I tried to do something, I could never succeed no matter how hard I tried. Then they mocked me when I failed, either laughing at me or telling me how worthless and stupid I was. I didn’t understand what they were doing to me, but after three years, believing I was worth nothing to anyone, I left. About a year later, someone told me about abuse and I began understanding my experiences. Even though I left the abuse behind, I still struggle with extreme fear of both people and failure. I am afraid to trust anyone, and I have struggled to rebuild the friendships I lost because of isolation. I also struggle with regular panic attacks every time I need to do something for someone else. I am so afraid of failing and letting them down that it sometimes petrifies me. I am afraid that if people really know me, they will discard me, which means I’m afraid to try making friends. In social situations, I often feel like I actually go mute because I’m so afraid and don’t know how or what to say or do. I struggle most with people I care about most. More often than not, I avoid people and doing things for people, but like the meditation said that hasn’t helped my fears. Jesus, I know that I can trust You, so please take my hand and help me walk forward and overcome.

    Reply
    1. Jennifer Schwirzer

      Prayers, Sarah. Here’s the thing: When trust is broken, we’re tempted to think never trusting again will protect us. But actually never trusting is in itself harmful. The better way forward is to try again, but bring along the wisdom gained from the pain of betrayal. I’m in no way trying to blame the victim, here, just trying to open to your mind that there is a future of love and relationship even for people who go through betrayal.

      Reply
    2. cree

      i feel for you, Sarah! that’s a difficult and trying time you had there 🙁 i’m glad you are no longer with them and were able to understand your experiences. May you be filled with courage as Jesus walks with you in this journey to overcome your fears!

      Reply
  12. Shirley Mann

    I can’t think of any specific thing that I am afraid of. I guess I’ve always been an optimist and if something seems bad for awhile I recover fairly quickly. This probably started from seeing how my mother was almost always cheerful, even when I’m sure there were reasons for her not to be.

    Reply
  13. Kristina

    I would like Jesus to help me with my fear of speaking up at times when needed in the right way and my fear of failure.

    Reply
  14. Jane

    So many losses and broken dreams have bombarded my heart recently, such that my candle of hope seems to be flickering and threatening to go out. I feel so trapped! I don’t know what my greatest fear is, but I am certainly afraid that life is just going to keep getting worse no matter what I do! However, I am so grateful when God breaks through the numbness of my heart and provides a moment of love, peace, or joy!

    Reply
    1. Mel

      Jane, I’m so sorry that there have been so many losses for you lately. It can be hard when you feel darkness closing in, But there is still a flicker, which means there is still hope! Praying for more of those moments of God breaking through for you! I’ve struggled with darkness for many years and it does get better!

      Reply
      1. Jane

        Thanks for your prayers! God broke through this morning regarding some of my pain and loss, giving me the ability to understand and process it more clearly. Praise the Lord! I knew somebody must have prayed for me as my day was much improved today. Thanks and may God bless you richly for your care and prayer!

        Reply
  15. Amy

    I can relate to so many of the comments here. So many fears to face. The one on top of mind for me today is fear of losing control. I try to keep everything in a safe order so I am less anxious. I think I fear that I won’t be able to cope with the unknown. I want to learn to go forward hand-in-hand with Jesus.

    Reply
  16. Cheryl

    I want to give up all my fears to Jesus. There are so many, I didn’t know which one to share here. But then I read a few comments and Jen’s response to the word “cowardice” and its meaning have now pointed out to me yet another thing I am doing or living and I didn’t recognize it or that it was cowardice— “it is a self-obsessed self-protectiveness, a lifestyle of capitulating to the flesh while disobeying the Spirit. It’s a long-cherished way of living versus the emotional ups and downs that make us human”…Yikes! I guess I have been thinking I am protecting myself from others and more pain from others but maybe it is more than that. I want to give up my cowardice and I definitely need Jesus to hold my hand and walk me through all my fears. I want to Praise God that He is showing me all the work that needs to be done in me, to refine my character. It is a lot. It is overwhelming. It is scary.

    Reply
  17. Ericka

    my little sister has cancer. very rare cancer, a 1 in like 10 million kind of cancer. shes 35. 2 little girls ages 7 and 6. just got engaged to their father after 8 years together. was running a new and successful business. was going to buy a house this year (they’ve basically been in a tiny cabin).
    of course we are still trying to process it. but i can feel the fear in me just like the other deaths ive had where i just avoided the end process, the end time periods. and i dont think i can continue to run from this thing, not this time. this one is too close. i dont want any of this, who does, but this is exactly the one i need to run toward with Jesus’ hand. and it hurts so bad.

    Reply
  18. cree

    This hits home. #confessiontime – I am an avoider. Though i never associated avoiding with cowardice until i listened to and read this meditation (i really had to read slowly and carefully to help myself understand it). And because i’ve been “avoiding”, i never really pondered on why i am doing so many things just to avoid triggers and yucky emotions.

    Thank you, through this meditation, it kind of forced me to think about it (it wasn’t easy the first time, i admit), but having Jesus “in the picture” made it easy for me to search my heart and admit that i have been repeatedly implying to myself that hurt feelings are dangerous. And with courage / boldness, I was even able to ask myself why and answer it!

    At the end of all the processing (and i will probably continue to process my thoughts from this meditation), I realized that wow!– i just learned a way how to get myself to walk hand in hand with Jesus so that I can face specific fears that I’ve been dealing with. I really did not know what that meant / looked like / felt. This used to be just head-knowledge to me. Through this, I was able to draw what I knew intellectually towards an understanding in my heart; and got to know Jesus deeper <3 He is so good. What a Saviour!

    Reply
  19. Mel

    So I’ve avoided commenting because the last few days the meditations have really convicted me. I’m learning that I worry too much what others think rather than turning to God. I’m praying for victory over this, and from today’s meditation pictured Jesus holding my hand when walking into situations that I normally worry about or overthink typically. I’m blessed and challenged by these meditations.

    Reply
    1. Steve

      Am so glad you stepped out, Mel. Yes, being convicted can be painful.
      Hoping more of our brothers can come out of the woodwork. We need you.

      Reply
  20. Donna

    Trauma has really changed me. If I were to have listened to these Meditations 5 years ago, I would be hearing them with a different mind. Lessons in them?…absolutely. More focus and ability to make changes?…yes. Today, it’s totally different story. I already struggled with “fear of God”, and “love for God” … but not like I do today. Because of an issue that my husband had with the church, I ended up with massive separation from my friends and feelings of abandonment. I would love to tell my truth, but I can’t because it would cause more friction/fracture in the marriage. In order to protect my husband, I remained silent about my viewpoint, except to my therapist. My husband is moving on, I am stuck and my world has shrunk. I’m trying to figure out how I can be more courageous and move out of my somewhat self-made prison. I had very little social anxiety … now it envelopes me. I have no idea who my friends are because there’s been no contact for so long. I’m going to figure this out … and by the end of 30 days, I hope to make some movement!

    Reply
    1. Steve

      I feel for your loneliness, Donna.
      And I love your determination! It makes me think of Jennifer La Mountain singing “I Am Determined (to live for the King.)”

      Reply
  21. Den

    Fear is so frustrating and exhausting. I fear trying and failing publicly, looking needy, asking for help. I have been developing my courage muscles and it works but I wish the process could be quicker for me. God give me more opportunities for courage and the energy to look fear in the face. Amen

    Reply
  22. Nicky Dube

    As I thought about today’s prompt I realize that the fear I need to face currently is speaking up when most around me are Christians but are doing our saying things that are not biblical. I had that opportunity on Monday and could feel my heart thundering in my chest. I nearly backed down. Having the thought of Jesus holding my hand during such an encounter I’m sure will make future situations less unpleasant.

    Reply
  23. Lauren

    I’m having trouble with the breathing exercises, but it’s a strange problem; I’m a classically trained singer, I know how to breathe from the diaphragm, but since my training has given me a large lung capacity, I feel like I never get in a deep enough breath by the time I’m supposed to “hold” and end up feeling short of breath, or having to take in breath fast in order to breathe deeply. I’ve had to set my own pace for breathing.

    Reply
  24. Mary

    On the surface I tend to think that don’t really have any fears. But I have to recognize that I tend to avoid those feelings. My anxieties seem to revolve around making sure I am seen in a positive light- a good mom, wife, church member, friend. I often feel far from being very good at those. Although I love my children, I’m often frustrated or annoyed at them because they aren’t doing what they “should” be.
    I’m thankful for these meditations to help me bring awareness to these things. The other day I was able to sing/breathe deep when I was having a power struggle with one of my kiddos. It helped SO much! I’m a mess but thankful that Jesus is still working on me. Courage training!

    Reply
  25. Joelle W

    I withdraw from conflict – even with loved ones where disagreeing is safe. I want Jesus to hold my hand so I can face and manage conflict in a healthy way.

    Reply
  26. Daniel Parsons

    Current fear issue is being able to freely travel back and forth to Chile. My wife is from Chile, all her family are here. We spend summer here and summer in Washington State. Now the restrictions on moving around cause us to be creative and find a way to move back and forth and we do medical missionary work all over the world as the Lord leads us.

    Reply
  27. Tara

    I have a lot of run-of-the-mill fears. I’m terrified of heights, of turbulent or really deep water, spiders (and I live in the jungle, so I have to face that one basically daily), etc. But I think I have a fear of burdening people. I’d much rather make my own life difficult or impossible than ask for help if I think it will inconvenience the other person. My husband is graciously helping me recognize and work through this fear. I also really appreciated Jennifer’s Anxiety and Depression course. Helped me realize I wasn’t the only one who feels the way I do in different situations.

    Reply
  28. Sasha

    I’m Sasha, a mom of 2 who moved from Bermuda to Michigan at the end of 2018 due to a job my husband accepted. No family. No friends. It terrified me then and still terrifies me today, which, in turn, causes me not to be the mom God wants me to be. I’d like to give that fear to Jesus so that my situation can change.

    Reply
    1. Jennifer Schwirzer

      Well, let’s talk about how you can connect. Difficult during COVID to do it locally, but did you know Abide has free telephone support groups, plus an anxiety and depression workshop coming up? These are ways to connect with people and feel less alone.

      Reply
  29. Monica

    I think some of my fears are kind of silly. They are not extreme, but just enough to keep me from reaching the full potential that I feel God wants for me. When I take my eyes off others and myself and keep my focus on Jesus, He helps me to move forward. It’s a process, and praise God, He is patient.

    Reply
  30. Ann

    I have so many fears. Even thinking of facing my fears while rereading this mediation caused me shortness of breath. I see I have a ways to go. Jesus hold my hand!

    Reply
  31. Valerie

    Thank you for explaining the different definitions of the word fear in Greek…it helped me understand where I fit and what can be done about it!

    Reply
  32. Onieka

    I believe that Jesus wants me to conquer my fears of commitment, vulnerability, and humiliation. He wants me to reach out and apologize to people. He wants me to have freedom from what people think of me. It feels safe to stay in that space but I must remember that anywhere with Jesus I can safely go.

    Reply

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