Lately I’ve been discovering the heroine of my novel-in-progress and I have something in common: fear.
Perhaps it’s our protective, big-sister natures—perhaps it’s from experiences in our past—perhaps it’s just our own sinful frailty. But we both struggle to let go of our fears and worries, to truly place people and situations close to our hearts in God’s hands and leave them there. We’re afraid—if we’re honest with ourselves—that if we really do that, He might mess up. Oh, maybe it would be what’s best in His overarching universal plan, but it most definitely might not be what we want and what we see as being best for us and those we dearly love right now.
So we cling on—afraid. Afraid that what has happened before in similar circumstances will happen again; afraid that if things are going well, it’s only a matter of time before the other shoe drops; afraid that what I fear will come to pass, or I wouldn’t be fearing it so, and feeling a miserable sort of justification if it does, forgetting my countless fears that have proved groundless; afraid those I love will be hurt, and not seeing how God could possibly work this out for good, though I may try to believe it.
I picked up Hannah Hurnard’s classic Hind’s Feet on High Places again this week and saw the story with new eyes, realizing that I myself am quite a “Much-Afraid,” like the timid protagonist in the allegory. One line especially struck me—that our Shepherd, Jesus, is “of very tender compassions to them that are afraid.” It comforted me, and seemed to make sense, for though we are commanded over and over in Scripture not to be afraid—thus it must be disobedience, even sin, to be so—yet when Jesus tells His disciples not to fear, there always seems a tender note in His voice, even if at times mixed with exasperation:
And He is helping me, bit by bit, to learn—to turn my fears and worries into prayer, and especially into thanksgiving—and that He has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. And as Father Tim’s feisty cousin Katherine likes to remind him in the Mitford books, if fear does not come from God, there’s only one other possible source.
I hope to see my heroine take new steps from fear to faith in this next chapter or so, as she understands anew that whatever may happen, Jesus will never, never leave us or forsake us. And I hope to follow her, holding fast to the hand of the One who says to all His trembling children,
“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” ~Isaiah 41:10