Next month my social media feed will be filled with people giving thanks in list form. Each day numbered, friends will recount gifts they’re grateful God has given, followed by hashtags heralding “#thankful” or “#blessed.” They may spend January thru October extrapolating their expenditures, lamenting their lifestyle, or hanging on every health woe. But come November, the winds of change blow and with the falling of the leaves comes the showers of “#grateful.” I applaud the shift in focus and genuinely hope to see thankfulness take root and bear fruit in their lives. I wonder though, if the practice could be helpful in more areas than gratitude.
What if in October, we’d taken the time to confess the things we are scared of?
Day 1: Clowns #phobia
Day 2: This election cycle #terrified
Day 3: Being alone #boo2singleness
Day 4: Raising my kids #panic
When my husband interviewed for his past pastoral position, an elder of the church asked him, “Kyle, what’s your greatest fear?” Surprised by the question, he paused a moment and replied, “I guess I’m afraid of being buried alive.” Everyone had a good laugh and agreed that would be pretty terrible, but then my husband had to dig deep for a real answer. In the same way, I can easily rattle off things I’m afraid of on a surface level, but the real haunts are usually hidden a little deeper down. With introspection and prayer, I would easily discover a treasure trove of personal terrors in desperate need of the Spirit’s conviction.
Day 5: The spot on my arm #isthisnormal
Day 6: My joblessness #mortgagewoes
Day 7: Sassy teenagers #godsavethem
I cover my fears with humor. It’s a coping mechanism. I often catch myself joking about my child who “would be the one to go to jail.” He is all boy, full of adventure, and has a curious spirit. The truth is, his boldness often scares the pants off me. Yet instead of confessing my fear for his heart and his future, I joke about his spunkiness. Lately, the Spirit has been convicting me and challenging me to call my angst out into the light. I’m afraid for him. I want him to love and serve Jesus and I’m worried he won’t. It’s plain and simple fear. The antidote? Trusting God. Following the confession of my cowardice, I beg the Lord to help me trust that my boy is His. My job isn’t to fear for him, but to faithfully parent Him in the Truth, while trusting God with the results.
Fear isn’t always sinful. I think the Lord doesn’t mind my desire to avoid dark alleys and hitchhiking ax-murders. Sometimes, a healthy fear is wise. But healthy, wise fear is not what I’m begging us to call to mind. I’m suggesting we consider the harmful fears; the sinful ones we hide away in the dark recesses of our minds and hearts. What if we were brave enough to speak out and confess those? The longer we cover the things that keep us up at night with humor, pet names, and indifference, the longer sin will linger. So name it. Call it what it is. What are you afraid of?
Day 8: Being Judged #peoplepleasing
Day 9: Imperfection #idolatry
Day 10: Not having it all #covetousness
The good news is, “God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all ().” Bringing our fears and our anxieties to God exposes them to the light of Christ, where we can experience the fellowship and comfort of the Spirit in the midst of our weakness. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness ().” Because of Christ’s work on the cross on our behalf, those who confess faith in Christ have nothing to fear – even death!
Like Peter in the middle of the raging storm, our fears can consume us. But we can learn from Peter’s anxiety that when we cry out to the Lord in the middle of the storm, Jesus answers us right where we are. In , Jesus “immediately” spoke to the terrified disciples saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” Even after this affirmation, Peter is still afraid of the winds as he attempts to walk to Jesus on the water. He cries out, “Lord, save me.” Again, we see Jesus “immediately” reaches out his hand and takes hold of Peter and says, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
Peter’s continual confession of his fears gives way to his trust in Jesus’ ability to help him. In this process, he is met by Christ’s immediate presence and comfort. The result, was worship. The men in the boat worshipped Jesus saying “Truly you are the Son of God.” Our fears are an invitation to confess, believe, be comforted, and ultimately to worship our Father. What better way could there be to assuage our fears and prepare us for a month of gratitude?
Day 31: fear gives way to worship #confessfear
5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. (ESV)
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (ESV)
27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” (ESV)