Stress felt like it was seeping into every part of my life. Logically, I knew it was stemming from looming work deadlines, but it felt like it was bleeding into every facet of my being. I was overwhelmed, stressed, and fearful about seemingly everything. I felt far from God and far from my friends.
I’ve never been one to keep things contained. I don’t tend to compartmentalize. My insides felt like a black ink jar had broken open, staining everything.
I went to a church service and worshiped; I texted a friend to pray. I did everything I could to grit my teeth and muster my way around the fear. Faith trumps fear, doesn’t it?
And yet in the back of my mind I remembered the prayer the psalmist once prayed, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.”
Not if – but when.
Finally one morning, I collapsed on my favorite chair and earnestly prayed for wisdom, strength, and the capacity to continue. What struck me suddenly was that everything I was stressed over had once been an answer to prayer. My jobs, my relationships, my friendships, my church – each and every one of them had been something I’d asked God for.
How could I have so much fear over the gifts God had graciously given me?
I thought back to last year: I was afraid about a variety of different things then. And the year before that? More fear about other areas of my life. I considered the future: might I have things to be fearful of next year, or the following year, or the year after that? Based on my track record, I think so.
If there’s always something to be stressed about or fearful of, what could I do with my fear?
The gentle voice of Jesus spoke within me: What if this fear is an invitation to trust Me?
I thought about that for a moment. Jesus invites us to cast our cares – our worries, our burdens, our stress, our overwhelm, our fear – onto Him. Most of the time, I’d prefer to hold onto my fear. I can trick myself into thinking I have control, and if I simply white-knuckle my way through, everything will be fine. But the truth is, I don’t have much control over anything, and holding onto my fear only makes me more fearful.
Could fear really be an invitation to trust?
Instead of falling for the idea that I need to muster up enough faith, or grit my teeth to make my way through my fear, could I instead accept Jesus’ kind and gentle invitation to trust Him with it?
Pastor Tyler Staton wrote, “The thing that calms fear isn’t faith, it’s trust. Faith is the assurance of what we hope for. Trust is confidence in the character of God.”
I remained sitting on my chair, but I closed my eyes and lifted up my hands. I listed every single thing I was afraid of – things I’d never articulated before – but I kept my palms splayed and open. I said, “Jesus, I give every one of these things to You. I hand them over to You. I choose to submit them all to You. When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You.”
I took a deep breath and opened my eyes again.
The fear hasn’t passed, not fully. But I am confident in the character of Jesus: kind, and good, and holy. He’s the most trustworthy Person in the world.
I’ll likely feel fear again, maybe even before the day is up. But I pray I’ll be reminded that my fear is an invitation to trust… and through that trust, an even greater invitation to be brought into deeper union with Jesus.