Breaking Fear: Part 8, When The Hard Hits

I’m sorry, but we don’t believe you will be able to have children.
We are going to have to let you go, please collect your things. 
It’s malignant. 
We couldn’t resuscitate him. 
Your only choice is bankruptcy at this point. 
I don’t love you anymore. 

This is not an easy post to write.

There are no easy answers when the hard comes.

I have faced some of these “hards” up close.  Some, thankfully, I’ve not.

But I have been left, fired, unable to walk, and told I couldn’t get pregnant.

It. Is. Terrifying.

We’ve talked about fear of the unknown, but what happens when the worst actually happens?  When the fear comes creeping into every corner of your conscious thinking and unconscious dreams.  When tears creep out while sitting at your desk or laying in your bed.  When your heart races and your breath shortens until you’re dizzy.

Fear wants to lay claim to your hard season.

Fear wants to make this temporary season your permanent storyline.  Fear wants this hard to define you.  To roadblock you.  To paralyze you.

It’s when the hard comes we most need to Break Fear.

I have no good words so, once again, I turn to the guidance from the scripture.

1.       Do not fear.  This sounds completely ridiculous, but I think it is important to say.  The Bible commands us, over and over again, not to fear.  Not to stop fearing in our own human power, but in His power.  He is right here.  In the middle of the hard.  He knows what comes next.  He knows how He is going to use this for good.  He will hold you up when your knees buckle.  He will whisper words of peace and comfort over you when your heart races and fists clench.

Isaiah 41So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand…
For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.

2.      Pray.  Sometimes, it is literally the only thing we can do about it.  He tells us that when we pray, His peace will guard our minds.  I have this concrete image of His angels of peace and courage coming to stand guard around my head as I pray.  Whether it is crying out “WHY?????” or just crying, He wants us to come talk to Him.  This is hard.  It’s fine to acknowledge that, including when you’re talking to God.  You can be angry or sad or hurt or confused.  Pour it out.

Philippians 4 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus….
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength…
And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

3.       Trust Him.  I do not know why you are in a hard season.  I do not know why I am in a hard season.  But He knows.  And the hard circumstances I have faced in my life in the past, I can only see now, were used by God for His glory or His kingdom or to move me from a place of even greater danger.

Proverbs 3 – Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Hebrews 11Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

Psalm 62Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, you people; for God is our refuge.

4.       He has this.  He owns everything.  He will act.  He is going to act on your behalf in the middle of this hard.

Psalm 50 – I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.

Hebrews 10 – Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering.  Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution….  You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.  You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.  For, “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.”

Daniel 9 – Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary.  Give ear, our God, and hear… Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name!


All I have this week is to mediate on His word – I’ve included these passages which encourage me as I struggle in the hard (there were too many to include them all above, but I think it’s important to have them all handy as you grieve):

Psalm 23:

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 27:

The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?…
For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock…
Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

Psalm 18:
I love you, Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I have been saved from my enemies.
The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me.
In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help.
From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears…
He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.
He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me.
They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support.
He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.

Isaiah 61:

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted… to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.  They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.

Ephesians 3:

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.  I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.  Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,  to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!

Breaking Fear: Part 7, Fear of What Others Say/Think


“She’s ineffective,” she whispered in ears.

“You shouldn’t be involved, she’s going to run that place into the ground,” her voice warned willing listeners.

“She’s a fraud. A phony. It’s all smoke and mirrors,” she repeated over the phone.

This isn’t a short story.

This actually happened to me last year. A professional adversary. And for three months, the attacks nearly crippled me.

The third-hand accounts of the accusations led to constant self-doubt. Panic. Insecurity. But more than anything: FEAR.

Fear about what others would think. Would they believe her words?

Fear about how to respond (or whether to respond). Do I try to fight back? Defend myself or attack in return?

Fear about whether any of the accusations might be true. Was she on to something?

Then a circle of dear friends called my attention to this truth: Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. (Exodus 14:14) {===> Click to Tweet}

I still cling to these words on the days I feel like it’s up to me to win the battle I’m facing. When the fear wells up in my throat and threatens my air supply.

Listen dear friend: God. Holds. Your. Reputation. He has you in His hands. {===> Click to Tweet} Like a flitting sparrow, like a flying swallow, So a curse without cause shall not alight. (Proverbs 26:2)

You do not need to respond. Counter attacks only serve to give credibility to the original attacker and taint your reputation. This is so hard. Instinct is fight or flight. Fight or flight comes from FEAR. Once we trust, way deep down, He will guard our reputation, then the fear dissipates and is replaced with confidence to move forward.

It will always hurt. No one is immune. We can feel sad or frustrated or confused but we shouldn’t live in a state of fear.

Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong;
or like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away.
Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.
Psalm 37

When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them, because the Lord your God will be with you… Today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not panic or be terrified by them. For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory. Deut 20

This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s… You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you. II Chron. 20:15-17

I wonder if the scripture is SO FULL of promises of protection, defense, and freedom from fear because God knew how hard this would be on us. How our instinct would run contrary to His promises. He understood and so He promised over and over that He has this: See, I will defend your cause and avenge you (Jeremiah 51:36); When they cry out to the Lord because of their oppressors, he will send them a savior and defender, and he will rescue them (Isaiah 19:20); Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them. The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you (Deut. 1:29).

Hang in there. This will pass. He will fight for you. Be still.


  1. Read Psalm 109 – David gets this. Years after the Exodus, you hear David’s cries from his accusers, but he recognizes God has it and he will praise Him even in the middle of the attacks. Follow up by reading Psalm 37. There is such freedom in his songs.
  2. Release whatever fear you have been holding over what people think about you. Forgive those who have gossiped or attacked or spread a negative storyline against you. Write out a prayer using any of the dozens of scriptures where God promises to protect you, fight for you, defend you, and hold your reputation.
  3. Share what you’re learning in the comments or on Facebook. Thanks for journeying through Breaking Fear with us this fall.


Breaking Fear: Part 6, Fear Over Your Family


As we look at the fears which plague us, and from which we can find freedom, this one tops my personal list.  Last week we tackled fears FROM our family, but this week we tackle fears FOR our families.

It’s no wonder.  The world can be a scary place – particularly harrowing for those of us with children.  Headline news blare stories about abductions, abuse so evil you have to shut the tv off, car accidents, disease, and all other manner of heartbreak.

But the fear, once it has a foothold in any one area of our lives, grows into the other areas.  Fear over the fate or life circumstances of our parents, siblings, children, spouse, and “near” kin can paralyze us.  Or at the very least keep us up at night.

Earlier, we tackled fear over things where we have no control.  This is its own unique out-of-control experience.  We want happiness, health, safety, and long life for those we hold most dear.  Yet we have no idea what tomorrow may bring.

Just this week, four of my friends and colleagues lost parents.  While one was lost to cancer, and my friend had time to prepare (making it none the easier mind you), the other three were complete shocks.  One mother hit by an eighteen-wheeler.  One beloved father and grandfather collapsed walking to get his mail and fatally hit his head.  Another daddy didn’t wake up in the morning.

No. Warning.

Families turned upside down over loss they never saw coming.

In the face of these stories, personal and public, how do we keep from holding white knuckled onto those we love?  Staring at the ceiling sleepless and nauseous over what could come?  Hearing a fall or a crack and immediately imagining the worst?

What do we do?  How can we respond?

1. We trust. 


They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.  Psalm 112:7

“He trusts in the Lord,” they say, “let the Lord rescue him… you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast.  From birth I was cast on you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God. (Psalm 22)

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. (Deut. 31:8)

Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God I have put my trust; I will not fear.  What can humans do to me?  (Ps. 56:4)

2.  We remember He loves them (kids, spouse, parents…) more than we do.

What man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent?  If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! (Matt. 7:9-11)

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!  (I John 3:1)

3.  We hope. 

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.  “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!” (Lamen. 3:23) 

There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.  (Prov. 23:8)

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.  (Ps. 62:5)

These do not make circumstances any less hard.  Replacing fear with trust takes practice.  It doesn’t take away the unknown.  It doesn’t guarantee a perfect outcome.  But He is the hope as the anchor for our soul, firm and secure. (Heb. 6:19)

And I promise you, He can do a better job than we can.

Our worry permeates our homes and makes our children or family more fearful.  Our panic over what may come undercuts anything we say about our faith and our all-powerful God.  The Bible is clear He has a specific purpose for each of our lives and we have to trust He will accomplish it in those family members we love most even if we don’t understand how or why or when.

Do you pray for them?  Absolutely!  You and I should be on our knees claiming verses with promises of favor and faithfulness over each of them every day.  He wants us to be interceding on their behalf.  But then once we have brought our prayers and requests to His hands, we have to leave them there.  Knowing He holds each one:  He numbers our wanderings and puts our tears in His bottle (Ps. 56:8). 


1.  Read the story of Hagar in Genesis 21:8- 21 – Here’s a momma sent away from her home with her boy and left in the wilderness to die.  God sees her tears.  God provides.  Call on this God who provides when you feel fear.

2.  In your morning prayers, tell God what you are most afraid of.  Acknowledge it.  Then acknowledge that whatever comes, He is still God.  He sees you.  He hears you.  Entrust those you love most, and worry about most, to His perfect care.

3.  Share what you’re learning on the blog or in the Facebook comments.

Breaking Fear: Part 5, Generational Fear


We’re already in week five of our Breaking Fear studies (to read past studies, click on the Bible Studies link on the right) and I hope you’re finding some freedom from fear as you journey with me on my own freedom walk.

Fear comes from many sources and for many reasons, but at the very core of our fears may be some generational baggage.  I’ve previously said I come from a long line of worriers but that minimizes the extreme fear with which those in generations before me struggled.

I have some serious generational fear to contend with.

Now there may be a question if you can pass genetic fear code down, but there’s no question you can pass down bad behaviors or a spirit of fear.

In his book, Signature Sins, Michael Mangis says:

Whether or not families inherit spiritual curses, it is obvious that patterns of sin are passed down through families. Everyone sins; but just as culture…steers our patterns of sin in particular directions, so do our families. 

My blogging friend Amy shares in one of her fear devotionals these words about fear in a family, “Fear can permeate your spirit.  It can infect the energy of your household.  It can hinder the work that God wants you to do – in your family and in those around you.  And if there is a particular stumbling block, we need to make sure we take a higher road.  We can’t blame our parents for our mistakes, but if we know there is a certain example set before us, we can make sure we choose to follow the God’s instead.”

The Bible offers many examples of how a previous generation’s struggle or sin threatens to derail the children if you don’t break the pattern:

He committed all the sins his father had done before him; his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his forefather had been. (I Kings 15:3)

Our fathers sinned and are no more, But we bear their iniquities. (Lamen. 5:7)

So what are we to do if we have been raised with generations fearful before us?  We don’t cast blame and then decide we have to live under it – no!  We find freedom within the pages of the Bible which over and over commands us not to fear for God Almighty is with us:

  1.  Realize your fear may be coming from more than your circumstances or your individual struggles.  This fear is a battle for how we live our lives, and God gives instructions to be on guard, to be strong, and to see the battle waging beyond our immediate situation:  Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  (Ephesians 6)
  2. Give thanks that even though those in our family lineage may have struggled under fear, doubt and worry, we are also the children of God the Father.  Ephesians 5 says, Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love.
  3. We already know from our foundational scripture in this study that perfect love, God’s love, casts out fear.



  1. Think about what your parents or grandparent struggled with as you grew up.  Were they constantly fretful or full of worry?  Identify ways in which you may have learned fear directly from one you loved and trusted.
  2. Read Ephesians 6 and recognize there may be other factors at work in your fear than your circumstances.  Pray for God to reveal those other forces at play, study the Bible so you can prepare to pray for a release from those generational fears.
  3. Share what you’re learning with the group.

Join us as we tackle fears we experience from other people the next two weeks – fears FOR our family and fears FROM those who have tried to do us harm.

Breaking Fear: Part 4, Out of Control


We’re in our fourth week of this fall’s Breaking Fear bible study.  We laid the foundation with the antidote to our fears (reminder: love and truth), and then started investigating some of the causes of our fear like last week’s look at the unknown.

Today, we look at the fear that rises up when we have no control over the situation.

I am the first to admit I’m a bit of a control-freak.  So being out of control may engender more fear in me than in others, but I believe everyone has been gripped by fear when they have no control of a situation.

I have also tried to control a situation in order to manage the outcome.  I’ve tried to control schedules and behaviours and relationships and everything else you can imagine.  Why?  Because of some terrifying circumstances growing up when I had no control.

Donald Miller says, Show me a controlling person and I’ll show you a person who is secretly afraid. 

Maybe not even so secretly afraid.

What is it we’re afraid of?  The worst outcome.  The tornado smashing our house against the ground.  The child suffering under addiction. The airplane crashing.  The spouse leaving us.  The best friend dying of cancer.  The layoff list containing our name.  The truck crashing into us.

Each of these fears presents a scenario beyond our control.

There are at least two potential outcomes with each set of facts.  One outcome may actually be the best result.  So if we spend our time in knots over the worst result but get the best result, we have wasted days or weeks or months of our lives in turmoil over something that never happened.  Not only is that a waste of time, it’s unhealthy for us physical and spiritually.

Another potential outcome is the worst.  When the thing we are terrified will happen actually does happen.

What then?

The hard question comes:  Is God still God?  Does He still love me?  Is He still in control?

There’s a story Jesus tells in Matthew 7.  It’s about two builders:

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rockAnd everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.

I’ve heard this parable my whole life.  I always realized it stood for the principle my faith needed to be grounded in the words God gives to us in the Bible, but it was only recently I saw the other powerful purpose of the story.  Both the wise man and the foolish man endured brutal storms.  Just because one man was wise didn’t mean he avoided storms.  It simply meant he survived them.

In Michele Cushatt’s beautiful memoir Undone, she shares what this parable taught her when she received her cancer diagnosis:

From the moment of my diagnosis, I sought to find my rest by building a place with a view.  I wanted to see into the future, to predict the outcome of my life and gain a sense of peace based on what I could see.  Simply, I wielded worry as a means to control.  A house on sand.  But rather than control my circumstances, my circumstances controlled me.  I focused on the view and, in the process, forgot about my foundation.  Thirty-three verses before Jesus’ story of the wise and foolish builders, he said words that held the key to saving me: “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?” [Matt. 6:27] 

Boy, I sure tried.  Fooled by both panic and pain, I convinced myself that worry gave me a measure of control.  From  morning until night, I attempted to worry myself into wholeness, as if preparing for the worst would guard me from any unwanted surprises.  Only it didn’t.  Worry, like cancer, consumes life, eating away at a person from the inside out.  It exaggerates the unknown and clouds the known until the worried person sees only the horror of what might be, rather than the beauty of what already is.  In his mercy, God pulled me back to the only foundation that could weather my storm.  “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” [II Cor. 12:9]  Not a house with a view of the future but a house with a foundation that won’t fail.  God’s presence in the here and now.  A promise never to leave, never to give way.  Stone, not sand. 

Every place she describes worry, you can replace the word with fear.  She found the key to breaking fear was returning to the foundation.  God is in control.  When the storms rage, He will hold you.

Joshua 1:9 – Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

Matthew 6:25-27 – Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?


Read Matthew 8:23-27 – the story of the disciples fear in the face of storms.  Remember that even those closest to Jesus worried when circumstances were beyond their controls.  Pray about your response to circumstances beyond your control in light of His words.

Write down what fears you are struggling with right now.  Write down the best and worst possible outcomes to the circumstances.  Look for what is true.  Bring each situation to God in prayer every morning this week and see how He transforms your perspective.

Share what you’re learning in the comments here or on the Facebook post.

{To follow this study, you can enter your email to subscribe to the blog or follow our conversation on Facebook. This study is only intended to focus on what God says about fear. If you suffer from crippling anxiety, I encourage you to visit your doctor.}