Posted by: Tamara Harrison | July 3, 2011

From fear to faith

Today I’m going to let you in on my biggest fear, something I’ve always struggled with. This fear has left me crippled with anxiety at times, only to be relieved once it goes away. My fear? PAIN.

I’ve always been afraid of pain. You wouldn’t think it, considering the sky-diving, adventure-living, late-night partying lifestyle I used to indulge in. But yes, I have always worried excessively about pain and have always assumed the worst whenever I feel pain. I think the reason I indulged in drinking, partying, and adrenaline-rush activities was because I wanted the pleasure it brought me. I never thought about the consequences of things, but when those consequences threatened to be a reality, I was terrified.

For example, during the year I spent in Australia and Thailand, I probably applied sunscreen once or twice, if at all. Very foolish, considering that Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer in the whole world. Was I aware of this statistic at the time? Yup. Did I think it was worth giving up a stunning tan or a few minutes to apply some sunscreen? Apparently not.

However, while on a small island in Thailand, after spending 11 months in Australia, I noticed a small freckle on my hand that I thought I had never seen before. I have freckles all over my body that looked exactly like this one, but somehow I convinced myself that I had skin cancer. That day I walked all over that island trying to find a clinic where someone could check it out for me. I didn’t care how much it cost or how far I had to walk, I just wanted assurance that I didn’t have a disease.

Looking back on that, I laugh. I didn’t need a doctor, and I didn’t have cancer. I just needed to be safe and apply sunscreen.

And although I laugh at myself, I don’t laugh very hard, because I still struggle with this today. A slight pain in my side or a headache that seems just a little too sore, and my mind jumps to all sorts of terrifying possibilities. I know the online “symptom checker” like the back of my hand, because I visit it so often. And this never helps me, but only makes it worse, as I become more aware of all of the awful things that could be wrong with me.

I hate it, because the fact of the matter is, I’m not trusting my God. I hate it because I’m not depending on His love and care for me but instead I’m holding on to my life so tightly it hurts.

It hurts because I know how much freedom there must be in letting go of the fear of pain. Knowing that pain will come, but trusting God that I will find all the strength I need in Him.

All of us will experience some form of pain in our lives. It’s inevitable. Whether that pain comes in the form of a broken bone, a complicated pregnancy, or a fatal disease, we will all go through it at some point.

So what am I scared of? I fear that I won’t be able to handle it. I fear that I will hurt too much. I feel that it will be too hard for me to
bear.

What I need to realize though, is that all those statements focus on “me”, “myself”, and “I”. Where is God in this picture?

If you too, struggle with the fear of pain, you know how hard it can be to focus on God instead of the pain. But look at these amazing verses:

“My suffering was good for me, for it taught me to pay attention to your decrees” Psalm 119:71 (NLT)

Suffering always has a purpose. It always teaches us and can point us to a more obedient relationship and trust in God.

“For as we undergo more of the pain which Christ underwent, so through Christ does our comfort become greater.” 2 Corinthians 1:5 (NASB)

This promises us that although we might go through pain, our pain will be matched by the comfort that Christ gives! He knows what pain is like. He experienced it more than any other human being ever will. Yet He wants to comfort us in our pain because He loves us.

“So that I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me: My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (The MSG)

Wow, Paul’s testimony here has such power to show us that God’s strength takes over when we’re going through pain. Pain drives us to our knees and into God’s grace. The power of almighty God moves in on our weakness and helps us to endure.

“Since Jesus went through everything you’re going through and more, learn to think like him. Think of your sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way. Then you’ll be able to live out your days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what you want.” 1 Peter 4:1-2 (The MSG)

Going through pain produces freedom in your life. Going through pain allows us to pursue God’s will for our lives instead of clinging to our lives with white-knuckled fists. Because when we’re going through pain we’re really in a position to give everything up to God. And that will bring joy and liberation that’s worth all the pain.

There are so many other verses I could go into. But for the sake of time I’ll end with this.

Maybe you are going through pain right now. I have a couple friends who live daily in severe pain. I admire them and they are a huge testimony to me. I know a couple others whose future health is not promising. Their faith and trust is a testimony to me as well.

To these people, how does God help you in the midst of pain? Leave a comment below.

Maybe you’ve gone through pain and no longer live with it. How did you cope? Please leave a comment telling me how the comfort of God helped with the pain.

And for those of us who are currently blessed with great health, let us equip ourselves with the promises of God, that He will never leave us, that He will always be there to comfort us, and that when we are at our weakest point, He is strong for us. Not only that, but the pain will drive us to a deeper relationship with God.

These promises will be our shield through the fiercest fire, our shelter in the worst kind of storm….no matter what you will face. Be bold because of those promises. Do not fear. He is with YOU.

Choose faith instead of fear. It will set you free.

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