Today is Halloween, the only holiday I know of that is dedicated to celebrating fear. Both children and adults dress up in scary costumes to trick or treat us at our doors. Are you frightened?
I hope not, for you no longer need to fear anything if you love Jesus and trust Him to love you. David, the boy who faced the giant, wrote: “I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.” How does God do that? By giving us a new spirit. As Paul encouraged his timid son in the faith, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7. So choose faith over fear and trust over trembling.
I have to admit I used to fight a lot of fears! But the more life I live and the more sources of anxiety I overcome, the more my fears subside. Isaiah 51 is now my sword in battling the lies of the evil one. There the Lord says, “I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you are afraid of man who dies and of the son of man who is made like grass, that you have forgotten the Lord your Maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth, that you fear continually all day long because of the fury of the oppressor.” In other words, fear is the act of forgetting God and believing our problems are greater than His strength. I don’t want to make that mistake. Do you?
Of course, this broken world gives the devil a multitude of tools to trick us. The greatest one is found in Hebrews 2:14-15 – “Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.” Fear of death and dying have long been the enemy’s greatest weapons for crushing our faith. But believing that Jesus died to forgive our sins and rose again to give us new life renders those weapons ineffective. For no one but the Lord Himself decides when we are born and when we will die.
This past year I have been the recipient of several unwanted diagnoses. Type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s Disease, spinal stenosis, and leukemia are among a few of them. But instead of fear, I find myself enjoying a deep sense of peace knowing that since I gave my life to Jesus, He has promised to carry me through every trial. Isaiah 46:4 holds the promise, “Even to your old age, I am He, and even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; Even I will carry, and will deliver you.”
This coming Monday, November 6, I will undergo my second operation this fall. My neurosurgeon will perform spinal surgery in an attempt to free the nerves that are being pinched at four different levels, with the hope that I can walk normally again. Right now I can walk about a block without being crippled with pain. So please pray for me. That is one means of grace that God has given us for dealing with the devil’s devices – “Pray for one another that you may be healed.” James 5:16
Let me add that I’m sorry for failing to keep in close contact with you. But the pain of sitting in this chair and trying to type has made it difficult. But you can be sure that if this surgery is successful, I will be in contact very soon.
By the way, if you know someone else who is struggling with fear and anxiety, be sure to pray and encourage them too. Did you know that Galatians 6:1 says you can do for them spiritually what my neurosurgeon plans to for me medically. It prescribes, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.” The word “restore” was a Greek medical term used to describe the resetting of a broken bone or dislocated tendon. That is to say, just as a doctor would put a bone back in its proper position, we are to restore one another to a place of faith and faithfulness. How? Paul says that our bedside manner is to be one of “gentleness.”
So no matter what the anxiety, let not your heart be troubled. Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Our love, thanks, and prayers in Jesus,
Gary, Cheryl, and family