Posted by: gaylejervis | May 25, 2010


Last week, I wrote that I am fearful that I won’t ever become healthy, but I realize now that I have been spared the kind of fear that can consume us and control everything we think, say and do. Recently, I saw an older Christian lady succumb to terrible fear when she was told that she had a mass on her uterus.  Even though her doctor reassured her that she had no cancerous symptoms, all she could hear was his answer to her question, “Well, is it possible that it could be cancer?”  And he said, “Not likely, but there is always a possibility.” I began wondering why I was spared such debilitating fear when I was actually told I did have cancer!  I began wondering how I was spared 13 years of intense fear as my life was turned upside down with this chronic illness.  I believe that inadvertently, I have developed strategies to keep fear from squeezing out faith, hope, trust, and peace.

My first strategy to cope with fear is to always remember that God does not give me “the spirit of fear, nor the spirit of timidity, but of love, power and a sound mind.” Therefore, whenever I become fearful, I know that I am not in the center of God’s will and that this fear prevents me from experiencing God’s “peace that passes all understanding.  That is when I know it is time for me to read large passages of scripture especially the Psalms where the psalmist is often experiencing great fears and he understands that he must surrender those fears to God and trust God.

Secondly, I can only keep my fear at some distance if I focus on others rather than myself. When the orderly was pushing my trolley bed to the operating room, I knew that while I listened to what he was saying, my anxiety levels would be lower than just laying there thinking about the impending surgery.  Therefore, I learned how he would be soon retiring, and how he would be spending half of his time in Thailand and half of his time in Canada since he got married late in life to a woman who is from Thailand.   Later, when I was in the hospital ward,  I listened to a nurse describe how she was going to lay patio stones by herself in her backyard;  I listened to another nurse describe how she was going to paint polka dots on her granddaughter’s room.  Listening to their stories kept me from focusing too much on the pain and listening to their stories reminded me to focus on all the things I still want to do.

Thirdly, when I succumb to fear I have the good fortune to have known someone whose courage inspires me – and that is my Mom.  And just as her strength helps me, I want in turn to be able to pass that strength on to my own children through example.      Interestingly, Mom used to say how she just wanted to have her own Mom’s strength!   I choose to be the woman that I observed in my Mom who had nurses enter her hospital room as if they were on holy ground.  They would comment on her strength, on her faith and they walked away encouraged by a woman who had a simple conviction:  “The Good Lord is taking care of me – I am not afraid”.   And later, when she was dying and the doctors and nurses were trying to help her after her lung was punctured, I asked, “Mom, you’re not afraid to die, are you?”  And her last most coherent response was a firm shaking of her head, NO!  Mom faced tough circumstances not in fear but with courage and faith. I want to emulate this woman so that I can look defiantly at fear and in the words of Dirty Harry say, “Make my day”!  That is the kind of legacy I want to be able to pass on to my children!

Fourthly, I want very much to “finish well”.  I know that God’s love for me doesn’t change when I surrender to fear.  However, while I am in that fearful state, I know I don’t experience His reassuring arms around me nor do I hear His comforting words, and I am certainly not in the center of His best plan for me.  I don’t want to feel like I “missed” something by fear’s tight grip on me.

Unfortunately, I still surrender to fear and to all of its insidious friends like worry, anxiety and anger.  However, as long as I practice some of these strategies, I find that I  at least control the intensity, and I can keep the ugly fangs of fear just a little further away from my jugular!



  1. As always, such an encouragement for us and a reaffirming for yourself.

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