This is the Day

exploring the soul's quest for joy

Tag: fear



I had walked underneath this tree countless times over the years. On every daily neighborhood walk with my trusted four-footed friend. Every Sunday afternoon walk with my husband. Every walk with my daughter, lacrosse stick in hand, ball bouncing.


Never was I even remotely suspicious of the potential danger looming overhead.


Every day last summer I walked beneath these limbs, never imagining that I should be walking in fear. Then the fall winds blew and carried away the nest’s protective camouflage. And on a crystal clear, blue-sky winter’s morning, my head tossed back, eyes heavenward, I caught sight, for the first time, of what had eluded my vision for all those months: the largest hornet nest I have ever seen.


It had been there all along, I just didn’t know it, so I didn’t know to be afraid.


When I held my second baby in my arms, I had no idea that there was a dangerous disease brewing within his tiny body. I knew nothing of autoimmune diseases and autoantibodies. I just knew that he was perfect, and so I didn’t know to be afraid.


When he was a toddler, I would hold his tiny hand in mine, unaware that soon I would be pricking each one of those precious chubby little fingers, eight times a day, to draw enough blood to check his blood glucose levels. I didn’t know any of that yet, so I didn’t know to be afraid.


When my son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) at age five, the leaves blew off the tree of my heart and Danger was no longer hidden; it made itself perfectly clear each and every day.


You’ll have to count the carbohydrates in all the food your son eats. You will calculate his insulin doses and inject him with the lifesaving liquid. Be sure to calculate carefully. Oh and make sure he doesn’t eat too much carbohydrate or fat.


Be aware if his blood sugar drops too low; he may become disoriented or feel shaky inside. If so, you’ll have to test his blood sugar and give him the right amount of juice to revive him.


Yes that’s right; it’s about 7-10 blood tests by finger prick per day and 5 or more shots of insulin per day.


The doctor sounded so confident.


I was terrified.


Did I mention that my son was only five years old? His body was so small, and he was so active, that the tiniest amount of insulin would send his blood sugar crashing down, low beyond low. His blood sugars seemed to have a will of their own, despite my best efforts at controlling them. I was his mother, his caregiver, and yet I was powerless against the force of this disease. Try as I might, I could not strong-arm this disease to yield to me and to my best intentions.


And that’s when the real fear set in.


Fear is an understandable response to that which we cannot control. We all have fears. Fear of the unknown. Fear of failure. Fear of rejection. Fear for our child’s future. Fear for a successful career. Fear of being all alone. Fear of dying.


We all experience fear. The danger lies in allowing fear to control us.


The real question is, what do we do with those fears? Do we face them – by which I do not mean do we rise up against them, but rather, do we turn our face, our entire body toward them, transfixed by their seeming power over us, and refuse to acknowledge fear for what it is? Fear is quite simply our emotional response to that which we cannot control and which we imagine will be our ruin. Fear is an emotional response. Fear lives in our imaginations.


Fear is something we choose to give mental space to.


And the trouble with fear is that fear takes all the truth out of the world.


Fear speaks lies to us. Fear makes us small and powerless. Fear exhausts us, even while it holds us captive in inertia. Fear says, there is no hope. Fear guides us to dread. Fear warns, don’t take a risk; danger lies ahead. Fear causes our eyes to see nothing but dead ends ahead.


Fear robs us of our hopes and dreams.


It’s so easy to fear what we can’t control, especially when our fears involve someone we dearly love. But when we choose to agree with fear, we block ourselves from embracing hope.


Jesus of Nazareth said this about fear, “Refuse to worry about tomorrow, but deal with each challenge that comes your way, one day at a time. Tomorrow will take care of itself.”


Perhaps instead of staring fear full in the face, being frozen by it, locking eyes with it, and in so doing, entering into agreement with it, what if we would turn 180-degrees away from fear and turn our gaze toward hope instead? What if in our 180-degree turning we discovered not the evil face of fear but the loving face of a gentle God instead? The face of a God who beckons, Come, trust in me and I will give you restEmbrace me, not fear, and I will hold you in my arms of hope and love.



The Suffering Savior


Mark 14:43-15:47, The Betrayal and Crucifixion


If you ask many people what was the overarching life purpose of Jesus of Nazareth, they would say, “to be a great teacher.” Others might say that He came to bring miraculous healing. Jesus did teach; but His primary purpose was not to be an effective teacher. Jesus did heal; but His primary purpose was not to be a compassionate healer.


The overarching life purpose of Jesus of Nazareth was to bring people into restored relationship with God the Father. Mankind can never attain to all that is required by the Ten Commandments or even The Beatitudes; Jesus makes it possible for us to enter into relationship with a holy God by what He did for us.


When I think about Jesus’ great work of salvation, I usually think about what He did from His death on Good Friday to His resurrection on Easter Sunday. That’s when, according to tradition, He battled Satan. That’s when, according to scripture, He conquered the power of sin and death through His death and resurrection. This is the mighty work of atonement that makes new life with God possible.


But if the only work in the atonement was what happened between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, then why did Jesus have to suffer such humiliation and degradation between the betrayal and His death? If the atoning work of Jesus to defeat sin and death took place only between His betrayal and His death, why couldn’t His death have been more like John the Baptist’s? Ugly. Brutal. And swift. But without all the taunting, beating, and shame? What was the purpose behind this added layer of suffering? Doesn’t it seem like unnecessary additional suffering from which His Father could have—should have—spared Him?


What did Jesus suffer in those last 12 hours before the sky went dark?

  • accusations
  • lies
  • condemnation
  • beatings
  • humiliation
  • ridicule
  • reviling
  • put-downs
  • mocking
  • shame


So much of what the Christ suffered between His betrayal and His death really fall into two broad categories: efforts to make Him afraid, and attempts to shame Him.


Fear and shame. Shame and fear. What Jesus suffered in these final hours are the very things that have always been two of mankind’s greatest spiritual struggles. But why did Jesus have to enter into this additional battle just before engaging in the greatest spiritual battle of all?


Could it be that Jesus was breaking the power of these tactics of the enemy by suffering them specifically in his final hours on earth, and in so doing, that He was demonstrating that He understood the power of fear and shame in our lives?


Scripture tells us that Satan is our great accuser. That he stands day or night and accuses us before God the Father. That he is the father of lies. That he condemns us before God. We know that where there is shame and where there is fear, that the enemy of our soul is accomplishing his great work.


Attempts to shame Jesus are everywhere in the crucifixion account: the spitting, the bowing down, the robe of purple, the crown of thorns, the taunting, the belittling, the incessant mocking. The efforts to arouse fear in Him come as potent jabs: “Save Yourself and come down from the cross!” “He saved others; He cannot save Himself!” “Come down from the cross, so that we may see and believe!” The desired effect is to arouse a fear in Jesus that God won’t save Him.


And we hear the same mocking, taunting voices today. Shame cries out, “You are unworthy! You are unlovable! You do not measure up!” Fear declares, “You will not be rescued! You will be abandoned! You will fail!”


For the full power of the atonement to produce the freedom that Jesus came to bring us, we have to allow Him to put to death the fear and shame that grip us. If we would truly grasp the all-encompassing grace offered to us through Jesus’ death and resurrection, we would no longer be overcome by shame. If we would truly grasp how wide and how high and how deep is the Father’s love for us, we would no longer be overwhelmed by fear.


Jesus came to show us the way to the Father. His full work of atonement gives us not only access to the Father but freedom from fear and shame as well. What a compassionate savior we have, that His last gift to us before breaking the power of sin and death was to break the stranglehold fear and shame long to have over us.

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