Faith That Vetoes Fear
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This is the follow up article after I had a chance to hear from fellow anxiety sufferers. If you haven't read the first part then before you can understand the basis for this article you should read the other one labeled "Fear That Vetoes Joy".


I've heard back from some of you regarding my last email and thus far it has been expressed to meet Jager where he is at. Some have suggested letting him sit near us instead of being up on the couch since that's what he is comfortable with, some suggested joining him on the floor or in his bed. All notions seem to revolve around meeting Jager where he is at and loving on him where we can, where it will be received.

I agree! And much appreciate the thoughtful responses. My wife and I felt the same way and that is what we do! Encouraging to hear the same from you guys. I will even come sit in Jager's bed next to him and lean on the wall and after awhile he will sprawl across in my lap as I pet him, though with recent back problems that's harder for me to do but nevertheless I'm happy to do it. I'm hoping this makes progress in his heart, or if nothing else, ensures to him my wife and I love him as she does this with him too.

I believe God does the same. Many of you share wonderful messages people have shared with you reminding you and us of the goodness of God toward you. Some of you share some pretty cool events in your life that you felt God was reaching out to you this way as well. As you have encouraged me in this toward Jager I believe God operates similarly toward us. I think even the bible at large is God doing that very thing for us. Not only dying for us on the cross, but then making sure His word is protected so that the account of that would reach us. The very message of the Word becoming flesh shows us God meeting us on our level.

Some of my favorite verses is where Jesus while here with us, encourages us in the same way:

"Do not be afraid, little flock, because your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom." Luke 12:32

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in Me." John 14:1

"Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a child has been born into the world. Therefore you too have grief now; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you." - John 16:21-22

Furthermore we see God trying to find ways specifically to show us His Love toward us. When you see the words "demonstrate" or "display" in the bible it means God is specifically trying to show us something about himself. Much like I try and show, or demonstrate to Jager we still love him.

"But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life." - 1 Timothy 1:16 (emphasis mine)

"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." - Romans 5:8 (emphasis mine)

But what happens when those messages don't make it through or they aren't heeded. What happens if God shows us His love every way He can, His word, His creation, His sacrifice... but the problem isn't that we don't have a demonstration to consider but rather that demonstration is no longer taken to heart? What else can God do when we won't take our eyes off the fear? In like fashion what else can I do with Jager? What if Jager only zeroes in on the fear he has of what getting on the couch may do and even me joining him on his bed to show him I love him falls flat as he sits there focused on the couch and the fear it causes him. Then what do I do? What can I do if Jager chooses to focus on the fear more than anything else, do I have any options left? Believe me, if there are options you better believe I would do anything I could. I love him dearly. I worry often that Jager may come to this point. His irrational fears of various things like this has been continually amping up since he was a puppy.

It's interesting because I wondered if there was a biblical example of how to get out of this fear of zeroing in on something. If there was a scriptural example of someone who feared God so much so they had a hard time seeing God as gracious, or merciful toward them, someone who zeroed in on the verses that spoke wrath but completely missed the messages of grace, and then I came across Asaph.

While David wrote most of the psalms, Asaph wrote a handful as well but Asaph's psalms are quite a bit different than David's. Asaph is a guy I can relate with. Asaph watched the wicked prosper while the righteous suffered and he struggled to reconcile that. Then in another psalm, my favorite of all psalms, Psalm 77 Asaph found himself overcome by the dread of God. The fear of being lost and rejected. It consumed him so much that he couldn't sleep, it troubled him so much that he couldn't even speak, and his soul refused any comfort brought his way (I fear Jager may reach this point where he can't be consoled). Every time Asaph remembered God he was only disturbed. Thinking of God was not a pleasant thought but a fear inducing one. Oh how Asaph cried to God continually, fear driving him so much that he reached out to God without ceasing. Yet no help was found. Asaph's thoughts were this:

Will the Lord reject forever?
And will He never be favorable again?
Has His lovingkindness ceased forever?
Has His promise come to an end forever?
Has God forgotten to be gracious,
Or has He in anger withdrawn His compassion? Selah.
Then I said, “It is my grief,
That the right hand of the Most High has changed.” - Psalm 77:7-10

It wasn't that Asaph didn't know the promises of God but his heart wouldn't have it and therefore his thoughts went down a dark path of thinking God's eternal promises that don't end...have come to an end for him. That God who forgets nothing has somehow forgotten to be gracious to him. Or if that's not the case than God must have in anger withdrawn His compassion from Asaph. Then in a defeated statement Asaph concludes that the unchangeable loving God who remains faithful for others must have changed toward a darker bent toward him.

It's like Asaph knew better, but yet the fears still were listened to.

Psalm 77 is 20 verses in total. The first 10 verses is Asaph completely zeroed in on the fear, much like we and Jager do. With Asaph it was all consuming. With us it feels the same doesn't it? So relating with Asaph, the first time I read this psalm I thought, ok, now let's see how God shows up to answer these cries and at first I was actually disappointed to read the second half for there is no record of God doing anything to rescue Asaph from being zeroed in on the fear. Feeling so helpless I thought if God doesn't rescue than there is no rescue for me. I actually think that is what Asaph felt when he wrote:


In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord;
In the night my hand was stretched out without weariness;
My soul refused to be comforted. - Psalm 77:2

Asaph was desperate for God and yet God he felt didn't show up, this left him feeling even more in despair, hopeless, and helpless. Asaph knew of the promises of God, but he couldn't possibly imagine those promises were still good for him, much like we struggle to read the verses I shared above such as God being glad to give us the kingdom and picture those verses are indeed for us. They are for us, it's simply our souls refused to be comforted.

So what now?

Well I mentioned there were two halves of Psalm 77, the first is Asaph being well acquainted with our grief with fear and anxiety in regards to God, so what happens in the second half. Well Asaph starts out with this resolve:

I shall remember the deeds of the Lord;
Surely I will remember Your wonders of old. - Psalm 77:11

Now I find this interesting because just before this Asaph was already dwelling on the days of old in verse 5. But I believe then it was just him wishing he could go back to before this onset of fear. Possibly he was meditating on when times were better between him and God, times when there was fellowship. Jager wags his tail when I sit on the couch as he remembers the days of old when we would cuddle up there, but now seconds later it's pushed out by the present fear. Asaph who probably has gotten accustomed by being tortured when he remembered the old days as indicated by verse 3 is now deliberately recalling them. He's actually making a choice to change his gaze.

I will meditate on all Your work
And muse on Your deeds.
Your way, O God, is holy;
What god is great like our God? - Psalms 77:12-13

Hold on. This doesn't even sound like the same Asaph. Asaph who was disturbed every time he thought of God, Asaph who felt God's promises toward him had come to an end, Asaph who said God had held his eyelids open is now deliberately stepping into these things???

Yet isn't that what I want Jager to do? Oh how I wish Jager would not focus on his fears but rather be deliberate to recall to his memory the goodness of Jamie and I toward him. With Asaph it's not that God all the sudden started being good, God was good toward Asaph this whole time, just like I am always good toward Jager. The right hand of the Most High hasn't changed as Asaph concluded in verse 10 but rather Asaph is being deliberate to change his gaze on the goodness of God.

This doesn't mean the fears are gone, if it was so easy I don't think we would have ever had this Psalm written for Asaph would have solved this long before he got to this point. But what it does mean is Asaph is being deliberate to take God at His word despite what his fears are saying to him. There is no great rescuing of Asaph from his fear, but rather Asaph choosing to recall the voice of truth and hear it over the loud expressions of his fear. Asaph is dethroning his heart of fear as the final authority of what is true.

Oh how I wish Jager did the same with me. I wish Jager would hear me over his fears and act according not to his fear but according to my word. If I say it's safe to come up on the couch or step up on the deck, I wish he'd choose to heed me instead of his fear...but rarely does that happen. I guard Jager's heart the best I can in order to minimize those fears, and I'm very gentle with him, my wife and I both are, not even raising our voices as that tends to only amplify the fears.

Read the rest of Psalm 77 and no where will you read God rescuing Asaph from the fear in his heart. I'm actually glad about that. For if Asaph had been rescued then I would only enter more despair wondering why I wasn't. The solution isn't in having God rescue, He already has rescued you. The problem with us is the same with Jager. We're fine. We're safe. We're okay. The problem isn't our condition, it's our focus. It is as safe for Jager today to jump up on the couch with me as it was in the beginning. The couch isn't higher up or harder to jump onto, my feelings of love for him haven't changed nor diminished, he's just as much invited to nestle up under my arm as he has always been. The problem isn't the circumstances but rather his focus.

You know, when you read about the armor of God in Ephesians 6 there is one part that we must be deliberate about. That is to take up the shield of faith. We have the shield of faith, that's not the problem, it's how we are wielding it. Scripture says we are to be taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one (Eph. 6:16).

Many of us are convinced we don't have the shield.

I think Asaph spent a good deal of time feeling this as well. Yet in the latter half of Psalm 77 I think we see Asaph switch from dragging the shield to wielding it. Does this mean Asaph wasn't saved before this, of course not. For even the armor of God is one where we already have girded our loans with truth and put on the breastplate of righteousness. But it does mean Asaph started being deliberate to wield that shield and in his case that was him being deliberate to change his gaze on the goodness of God, it was him being deliberate to not listen to his heart but rather to claim the truth of God's word and God's demonstrations of love shown to him.

Isn't that what I want from Jager? That Jager would be deliberate to focus on our love and not his fears. He has our love, that's not an issue, but I want him to enjoy our love and everything stemming from that love. The last thing I want is for him to be overcome by fear. I believe Jesus feels the same toward us (John 15:11, 16:24, Luke 12:32).

God loves you. That's not the issue, that is a fact. Claim it. It's okay too and it's what He wants. Be deliberate to take God at His word despite what you feel and fear. And even though the Psalm 77:1-10 feelings may rage, be deliberate to bring to memory the Psalm 77:11-20 focus as well. Listen to the voice of truth for fear is a liar.


~1 year update, the picture here is from this December whereas this article was written in February. Almost a year of very delicate and deliberate consistency over this year and Jager now joins us back on the couch regularly, it's actually part of his routine now. This was delicate, took many repeated and gentle attempts and there were many relapses, but reprogramming does happen! Have patience with yourself.

Please spend some times listening to these songs and meditate on the truth they speak, especially to us.

Casting Crowns - Voice of Truth:

Zach Williams - Fear is a Liar


If this resonated with you, here are some other articles you may be interested in:

You Can Teach the Brain but You Train the Heart

Emotional Reasoning - When the Heart Drowns Out the Mind

Stop Having Faith in Your Feelings



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Have some feedback, insight, questions, comments, prayer requests, etc? Maybe you just want to share what God is doing in your life (I love praise reports), or maybe you can relate to some of the things here and need an ear. I'd love to hear from you!