By Jessica Kastner, Crosswalk.com
Every once in a while, we're faced with an abnormally difficult situation, problem, or mountain to climb that shakes us to the core, no matter how "spiritual" or full of faith we are.
It could be a parenting crisis with your teen, a scary financial problem, a health issue, or an impending breakup — they all come with nuanced needles of paralysis and anxiety threaded together by one common denominator — fear. It's an absolute killer. Fear of the unknown, fear of the worst-case scenario, and fear of being alone or rejected all open the door to anxiety, worry, self-doubt, confusion, and every other ingredient to the enemy's craft cocktail of misery.
So here's what we need to do: We need to apply Hebrews 12:2 every minute, every hour, and every day until fear has been defeated. Here's how:
#1 Keep Your Eyes On Jesus
Hebrews 12:2 says, "Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end." It's a well-known verse, but what does it really mean to keep your eyes on Jesus? We obviously can't physically see Him, and in this frantic world, it's hard enough keeping your eyes on the road, let alone seeing our invisible Lord.
Learning to keep our eyes on Jesus is a spiritual practice I wish I encountered sooner in my Christian walk. It means the continual act of focusing our thoughts and attention on who He is. It's about constantly meditating and reminding ourselves of His faithful, loving, protective nature, as well as remaining sensitive to where He is leading.
It makes sense then that Jesus calls the eyes "the lamp of the body" in Scripture, pointing out that all the light we see is perceived by using our eyes. Healthy eyes capture all the available light, giving that person a clear understanding of the world around them. So, well-functioning eyes allow the mind and body to be "full of light," while unhealthy eyes are clouded by darkness.
Without being able to see Jesus, we're blind and lost, knocking into walls in front of us and falling prey to anxiety, fear, doubt, and confusion. Our ability to experience peace and freedom from fear depends on whether our eyes are focused (or not focused) on Him.
#2 Now, It's Time to Walk
Keeping our eyes on Jesus isn't a passive activity. It requires movement. To overcome fear, we must walk through the valley to get to the other side, which is much less terrifying with Jesus at our sides. And thankfully, He's an excellent walking partner. Jesus isn't just sitting up in heaven, glancing downward, tepidly cheering on like a lukewarm fan in the stands while our life is on fire. He wants to walk through the anxiety with us, side by side, moment by moment, partnering with us, like a dad holding his child's hand. This takes faith and lots of action.
Colossians 2:6-7 says, "Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving."
Notice this verse pairs the action of walking with being rooted, which simply means remaining in the Word and praying continually. This way, the enemy is unable to keep whispering lies of mistrust and doubt when the path gets difficult. Remember, our only job is to walk, one step at a time, staying close to Him. We don't need to know the way or even how long the walk will be because He already knows.
Thankfully, there are no "unknowns" in God's world. We may be stuck in a terrifying valley, but He owns the valley. Whatever we're facing — a Cancer diagnosis, job loss, or an attempt to remain obedient towards a calling you're frankly dreading, remember this: He already has a plan to get you through, and He promises to remain by your side. We can walk with our chins held high, even if our lips are silently quivering, because God is creative enough, persistent enough, and faithful enough to get us through it. With Him, anything can change for the better at any moment, and help can come in any form. There is a way when you're walking with Jesus.
#3 Keep Your Eyes Off the Fear
When dealing with soul-crippling fear and anxiety, the enemy's go-to move is to try to confuse us about our identity and God's character. He'll try to get us to forget who we are and whose we are. He'll try convincing us that God isn't trustworthy or has someone discounted us from His favor. He'll sow insidiousness, such as, "You've basically done this to yourself, and you should've known better. Why would Jesus come running to your rescue again? How long have you been in this valley now? If Jesus really heard your prayers and cared, wouldn't things have gotten better by now? If you keep telling people you believe, you'll only weaken their faith when God never comes through."
And just like that, we entertain these lies until they take root, transmuting us into a modern-day version of Peter walking across the Sea of Galilee. Remember, at first, Peter walks with confidence, in total awe and wonder, while remaining locked onto Jesus' gaze, but then panics in terror minutes later. Why? Because he looked looked down. The water Peter had total command of just seconds before suddenly looked dark, deep, menacing, and vast, and Jesus instantly seemed farther away and less able.
When we take our gaze off Jesus and back onto the foreclosure notice, medical results, statistics on later life pregnancies, or threats of divorce, fear regains its power, and our spirits lose faith.
In times like this, it helps to remind ourselves and really mediate on how many other valleys and dark circumstances He's gotten us through. For me, the list is endless. Think of that seemingly impossible situation He overturned in your favor or that financial miracle that still doesn't make sense to this day. He will do it again.
No matter what your crisis of fear and anxiety looks like, or why/how it's happening, or how many times you've faced this brand of angst before, you can make it through, just one step at a time, with Him. One meal at a time, with Him. One job commute at a time. Eyes off the fear and onto Him. This is where your testimony starts. This is where the enemy starts to tire. Stay in the Word. Drown yourself in worship. Let the Holy Spirit do His thing. Keep your eyes on Jesus.
And when you've made it to the other side, after taking ten thousand little steps, this trial will be a distant memory, coloring one more page in His story of faithfulness towards you.
Related Resource - The Faith Over Fear Podcast
Listen to Faith Over Fear! When life feels painful and uncertain, it can be hard to hold tight to our faith. Thankfully, God holds on to us. So long as we seek Him, He will build within us a faith that won't fail. In this episode, author, speaker, and cancer survivor Michele Cushatt shares insights she learned when her life felt upended. To listen, just click the play button below. You can find all of our episodes of Faith Over Fear on LifeAudio.com.
Photo credit: © Unsplash/Benjamin Davies