Do you know someone who has an overwhelming sense of fear and foreboding … even when everything seems to be going well? I do. Or, at least I did.
“Ellen” and I were chatting about fear one day when I noticed her demeanor suddenly change. Normally easy and eager, she became serious and solemn as her eyes fell downward into a silent stare. Looking up, she said, “I’ve never told this to anyone before—June, it’s so crazy—I can hardly believe it myself. I’m a grown woman who is … afraid of the dark.”
For years, Ellen has been active in Christian ministry, led recovery groups, and had become a women’s mentor. I’d known her well for several years … but I had never known this.
Ellen revealed that whenever she entered a dark room she was “stricken with fear.” She imagined something jumping out and grabbing her. This haunting fear was her constant companion. It happened each night … as she drove into her garage … as she walked into her apartment … as she entered her own bathroom.
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve prayed and asked God to remove the fear, but it’s still there. It’s embarrassing to admit I’m struggling with something so irrational.”
Irrational indeed. I gently probed, “When is the first time you felt afraid of the dark?”
I learned that Ellen, the youngest of four, had been forced by her siblings to enter a dark room in search of her “kidnapped” doll. Ellen’s brother and sisters would string up her doll in the middle of the room, using yards of invisible thread. If she wanted her doll back, 6-year-old Ellen had to venture into the black room, alone. After a few steps, she would become entangled … like a fly snagged in a spider’s web. Panicked, she thrashed and lunged, grasping in the dark for her beloved doll. By the time she had retrieved “Thumbelina,” Ellen was filled with tears … and terrified.
Flash forward decades later. Ellen wanted to walk in faith, not fear. But to do so, she needed to realize—“Fear is in the mind of the beholder.” Ellen needed to conquer her thinking before she could quell her fear.
So I asked Ellen, “Does God’s Word tell us fear is wrong?”
“I think so.”
“Actually, God never assumes we will live without fear. In fact, His Word specifically addresses fear by telling us, ‘When I am afraid, I will put my trust in you.’ (Psalm 56:3) Notice, this verse doesn’t say if, but when. At times, we both will have fear … but we shouldn’t live in a state of fear.”
Fear was not a conscious decision for Ellen…it just took her over.
Yet now Ellen had the ability to overtake the fear that had taken hold of her. By taking control of her mind, she could take control of her fear. I asked Ellen if she would be willing to try a new strategy the next time she found herself in a fearful situation.
Ellen wanted to try anything that would help.
So I recommended, “Each time you’re driving home at night and are about to enter a dark garage (or dark room), I want you to say Psalm 56:3 … out loud. ‘When I am afraid, I will put my trust in you.’ But don’t just say the words—instead think about each word as you’re quoting this verse. Repeat it as many times as you need to until you feel your peace returning. Tell your fears the Word of God. Does that sound do-able?”
Ellen agreed … and she started immediately.
About 10 days after our initial conversation, she gladly shared her progress report.
“I can’t say for sure when it began to happen—or how—but, little by little, I’m seeing my fear of the dark fade away. I’ve been saying Psalm 56:3 every time I find fear welling up inside me. At first, I felt a little silly, talking out loud in my apartment entryway. Sometimes, I repeat the verse 6 or 7 times, just walking around the apartment turning on the lights. It’s amazing how saying that one simple Scripture has had such an impact. And now I need to say it less and less because—after all these years—fear is losing its grip on me.”
Over the next few months, Ellen’s fear of the dark almost completely vanished. And when it did try to make a comeback, she’d fight back with Psalm 56:3.
Ellen’s story illustrates why I love using God’s Word to help others. His Word is “active and alive.” His Word changes minds, hearts and lives. Psalm 107:20 reveals that God “sent forth His Word and healed them.”
Jesus says, “My peace I give to you” (John 14:27). By using the powerful Word of God and focusing on our true Prince of Peace, we can say, “I sought the Lord and He answered me; he delivered me from all
of my fears” (Psalm 34:4).
I love that Ellen is on the staff of Hope For The Heart and that we work closely together. And because she has conquered her compelling fear, now she has complete hope for her heart.
Yours in the Lord’s hope,
Our mission at Hope For The Heart is to use Scripture to help others find God’s truth for today’s challenges … such as threatened relationships … job loss … financial struggles … and health concerns. How reassuring to know that Scripture has the perfect answer for confronting fears that cause stress, anxiety and panic attacks.
We all know someone who is living in fear:
- One in four women will experience domestic violence during her lifetime
- Depression is most prevalent in people ages 45–64
- 46.5% of college students felt hopeless in 2012
- Approximately one in 10 adults experience some type of phobia
Your generous gift helps us help others gain a deeper understanding of the biblical hope and practical help found only in the Lord. We can overcome our fears by submitting our life … and our fears … to His authority. Thank you for faithfully partnering with us. God is using your gift to help so many.
Yours in Christ,
Director of Donor Relations
If you’re on Facebook, I invite you to connect with me at Facebook.com/June.Hunt.Hope. And if you’re not, take it from me: You’re never too old to start! See you there!