When Fear Grips The Heart: Introduction

*Note: Dear brothers and sisters, I am sharing with you a rough edit of the introduction to a possible small book I am working through. As mentioned before, I have been writing about this subject for nearly three years, but doing so sporadically. I hope it helps someone besides myself. Blessings, Jeremy B. Strang

Introduction

There is no doubt fear is grasping millions upon millions around the world today. And regardless of what has triggered this fear, whether it stems from mass hysteria and media frenzies, or localized personal traumas and multitudes of anxieties, one thing is for certain, fear is gripping people where they live and millions do not know how to rid this beast. This powerful vice has people both inside and outside of the professing church spiritually paralyzed and often running wild.

If you are reading this most likely you have come either because the cover has attracted you, or the topic seems to have something regarding plots, conspiracies and/or viruses, or maybe you have been living under some type of fear about the future; it could even be that your reading this is a mixed combination of varying degrees of these swirling around in your brain and seated deep within your heart. Regardless, you are here.

But let me be right up front and take a moment to tell you what I am not here to discuss – plots, conspiracies and viruses. Although being a healthcare worker for nearly 27 years, there is much I could say regarding some of these things, however, these topics are not going to be of any eternal, long living and true, hope, peace and joy. Rather my hope is to encourage you onward in Christ, maybe truly for the first time in your life, to draw near to God and out of the fearful hand of man, the deceptiveness of our own heart and the grasps of Satan.

Before we dive headlong into this powerful vice, that is the topic of our fear, I feel I must share something regarding Scripture. Please know, there is no way that I write this as one total absent of fear and perfected in the faith, however, I do know where we are to look, the path we are to run and those who help to pick me up along the way. I am one just like you, one in need of ever-growing grace and the daily mercies of God.[1] So may the Lord lead us evermore into greater depths of authentically knowing Him more and more.

In May of 2001 I had a drastic change of heart. God had taken my 21 years of deep dark bondage and given me new life. He granted me such grace and mercy, such love and compassion, such patience and persistence, which caused my initial repentance and turning unto Him. He became as real to me as anything of this physical world.[2] In this time of new life, my usage of the English language had changed. I was foul mouthed and uttered all kinds of profanities to the extreme. I was a very poor reader and hated to read. However, everything had now changed. I desired to set out reading and understanding the Bible, and let me tell you, this was no small challenge for me.

I remember in that first year that reading became a terrible struggle for me. I remember my mind could not focus and was greatly swayed just as the sea tosses a large ship at its whim. After months of struggle and toil I felt that maybe I should just give up and admit I am just not a good reader. I felt as if nothing made sense and failure was always my end, thus having waisted my time. It was just like when seeds fall along the path, and the birds come and devoured them,[3] literally meaning, when anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart.[4] I was experiencing this over and over again for months. After some time, and little by little, the Lord began to show me yet greater depths of His divine grace and merciful compassion in opening my mind to understand the Scriptures.[5]

I want to first encourage you, to not give up in reading and studying the Word of God for yourself. Regardless if you feel like you do not understand, cannot read, or simply feel like a failure, continue to press in and get to know the full counsel of God[6] just as the Apostle Paul did not hold back in declaring to us. For God promises that if we will seek Him we will find Him,[7] and if we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us.[8]

The second area I want to encourage you to understand is that all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God [and woman] may be complete, equipped for every good work.[9] Did you catch that? The Scriptures are inspired (God breathed) and sufficient in themselves. Not only this, if indeed they are inspired, as they are, then they are also infallible, as God does not and cannot lie.[10] This means we do not need to turn or trust in anything other than the person of God Himself. This starts and continues in and through His Word.

In the Scripture above, did you also note the words, teaching, reproof, correction and training in righteousness? Did you note their meanings and the resulting implications that will affect you? What do I mean? What I mean is that these words carry with them the ability to cut in a dual sided way. For we are told that the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from His sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.[11] This means the Word of God comes with both the painful cutting out that which is not of Christ and a healing in the midst of that pain. Growing in sanctification, that being made holy and set apart for God, is not always instant and pain free, but often painful and lengthy, of perfect timing and of detailed cutting of the flesh. It is having the greatest of physicians and the most skilled of surgeons working on our hearts.

Unfortunately, because of the process of having their sinful desire cut out, many people, through numerous excuses, have narcissistically justified themselves against reading, studying and enjoying Bible reading. Let me ask you, are you such a one? Remember, I too understand and must continually plow my fallow ground[12] and be reminded of my great need for God’s Word. I do not want to be one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back[13] but rather one who plows in hope.[14]

I want to ask you, do you not want to know the depths and the heights, the width and the narrow, in knowing our Savior? For the Law and the Prophets all point to Jesus.[15] If we have received such saving grace, then ought not our response be to walk, grow and learn in Him alone? Ought not our minds to be renewed, not by being persuaded and conformed to this world, but by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect?[16] Ought not the fruit of our lives demonstrate these things tangibly as a tree produces the fruit as is its type?[17] And if we profess faith in Christ, and yet say ‘we are not in fear and we are to carry onward in the faith,’ yet are consumed by the facets of this world, do we not demonstrate fear as our captor? Are we forever learning, but never arriving at the truth?[18]

Nor let us not run headlong and uncontrolled in the opposite direction playing the part of the fool, one who appears to have much zeal but no knowledge.[19] Let us not be like a great many, especially so many TV preachers and etc., that make an absolute mockery out of God’s Word by proclaiming things they know nothing about and most often are in direct opposition to the entire counsel of God. Let us not be like them at all, no! Rather, let us be found truly embracing and enjoying the Word of God, in its entirety, with context and the Holy Spirit truly our teacher and helper and One who convicts us concerning [our] sin and righteousness and judgment.[20]

My hope and prayer is that the Gospel comes to you, not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.[21] May we all like so great a cloud of witnesses before us,[22] let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.[23] May we lay aside and run to Him!

Consider Him who endured from sinners such hostility against Himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.[24]

Why?

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons.[25]

Why?

My son, do not regard lightly that discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by Him. For the Lord disciplines the one He loves and chastises every son whom he receives.[26]

For to this end I hope this small writing helps us all – for our turning unto God and our fears being healed – but even more so for the glory of His great name, for the Savior King Jesus and for the walking with God authentically in and by His Spirit. May his true grace[27] be a reality both in and upon us all.

Amen.


[1] Lamentations 3:22, 23

[2] Learn more: https://hegivesgrace.com/story – ‘Grace Upon Grace

[3] Matthew 13:4

[4] Matthew 13:19

[5] Luke 24:45

[6] Acts 20:27

[7] Matthew 7:7-11

[8] James 4:8

[9] 2 Timothy 3:16, 17

[10] Numbers 23:19; Hebrews 6:18

[11] Hebrews 4:12, 13

[12] Jeremiah 4:3; Hosea 10:12

[13] Luke 9:62

[14] 1 Corinthians 9:10

[15] Matthew 5:17-20

[16] Romans 12:1, 2

[17] Matthew 7:15-20

[18] 2 Timothy 3:7

[19] Hosea 4:6

[20] John 16:8

[21] 1 Thessalonians 1:5

[22] Read Hebrews chapter 11

[23] Hebrews 12:1, 2

[24] Hebrews 12:3, 4

[25] Hebrews 12:7

[26] Hebrews 12:5, 6; Proverbs 3:11, 12

[27] 1 Peter 5:12; Titus 2:11-14