Overcoming Fear by Trusting God — by Pastor Pam Sutherland

I GREW UP 11 miles from what is now Reagan International Airport outside of Washington, DC. I remember how exciting it was when my dad would take us to the airport and park in the adjacent parking lot on the banks of the Potomac River. From there we sat right under the flight path of planes landing and taking off. It seemed as if we could reach up and touch the underbelly of those giant metal birds. It was both thrilling and frightening to hear the roar of the engines. I wondered how those massive airplanes could stay aloft and sometimes feared they might drop out of the sky on us!

I was fourteen years old before I took my first flight on an airplane. My parents had dropped me off in Alabama to stay with my sister for the summer. I was to fly to Minnesota to meet my folks for a visit with family there, before heading back to Virginia. I was all alone and very frightened. I am pretty introverted and shy by nature and I was not used to navigating through unknown territory or speaking with people I didn’t know. Not to mention that I was terrified of flying! I still didn’t know how those airplanes stayed up in the sky! I had no choice though. I had to take that flight. My parents were not about to make another trip to Alabama to pick me up.

Have you ever had to do something afraid? We all have to face a fear at some time or another. According to research, some of the top fears we humans have are fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of change, fear of public speaking, and fear of spiders!

Although it didn’t make the top ten list of things people fear the most, fear of the unknown is possibly the root of all our fears. Because with fear of the unknown you don’t know what you’re preparing for or how to counter it. Someone has said that it is not the thing itself we fear, it is our ability to handle whatever comes.

Sometimes God will even call us to do something that is completely out of our comfort zone, something that stirs up some deep fear within us. What is that something for you? Is it pubic speaking? Going on a mission trip to a foreign land? Starting a new ministry in your church? What is the one thing you would fear the most if the Lord asked you to do it, and why?

The Bible is full of stories of people who were afraid. Sometimes they overcame their fear and reaped a blessing, sometimes they gave in to fear and suffered loss. In Isaiah 41:10, the LORD says:

In fact, the phrase “do not be afraid” is written in the Bible 365 times. That’s a daily reminder from God to live everyday fearless. We can overcome fear when we trust that God is with us and He will strengthen and uphold us even in the face of our greatest fear.

By God’s grace, I was seated next to a pilot on that first flight to Minnesota. She kindly explained to me how airplanes operate and stay up in the air. She reassured me that traveling by air is very safe. Since then, I have traveled by airplane to many destinations. I’m still just a bit nervous and scared each time those engines roar to life but I trust in God’s ability to keep me safe, and I “do it afraid.”

Whatever your fear is, I hope that when you face it you too will trust in God and “do it afraid!”

Grace and peace,

Pastor Pam

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