There is Nothing to Blog But Fear Itself

My wife just had surgery for invasive ductal carcinoma. Breast cancer. Everything’s gone fine, and while treatment will likely need to continue, things actually look pretty good.

The hardest part about dealing with this, though, has been the fear that it creates. And not just our fear, but everyone’s. The moment someone offers up the word, cancer, something in us seems to lose it. Our culture seems to have loaded the word with a terrible weight that immediately results in a sort of panic state, even if it’s not even us going through it.

For many of us, the moment that fear shows up, there’s something in the back of our minds that starts shouting, “Fix it! Fix it! Fix it! Fix it!” and we can end up in this mode where we’ll do anything to make that fear go away. Of course, we’re not always terribly wise when it comes to making decisions when we’re in fixitfixitfixitfixit mode, so we can end up doing things that don’t really solve the problem. We sometimes even end up making it worse, for ourselves and the people around us! My wife and I were kind of exhausted after a while by the various people showering us with their anxiety.

The most often repeated command in the Bible is “Do not be afraid.” I don’t think that’s a divine “Stop it!” I think it’s meant to be divine comfort. “It’s going to be all right.” “You don’t need to fear here.” Paul told the Philippian church not to be anxious, but again, I don’t think that was intended as a directive to make their emotions suddenly go away. My studies have more and more suggested that the brain doesn’t work that way the vast majority of the time anyway. Paul goes on to point to God. “You’ve got a God who can solve these kinds of problems – any kinds of problems!” he seems to be saying. Now, God doesn’t always solve those problems the way we want, but in the greater scheme, He’s still there, and it will be okay.

Easier said than done, as is nearly always the case. But sometimes, I think when fixit mode shows up, we leap right past God and into … well … trying to fix it. We frantically begin trying to find any way we can to make the fear go away, but it’s us looking for the escape route. We depend on our own panicky ability to find a solution instead of turning to God (not that leaning on God absolves us of having to do anything). I think maybe “Do not be afraid” is repeated so often because we’re so prone to forget it.

So before the next time fixit mode shows up in you, perhaps you can resolve to handle it a little differently than we so often do. The next time you leap into panic mode, what would change if you were to stop a moment, recognize that you’re afraid, and turn to God? What would it be like to hear Him say, “It’s going to be all right”?

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2 responses

  1. Dave

    Nice post Matthew.

    I have been camped out in the Gospel of Mark for a while (doing penance for viewing it as the poor cousin in the Gospel family for so long) and I have been repeatedly drawn to the contrast in Mark between faith and fear. The usual contrast with faith is doubt or un/dis-belief.

    Sarah and I have been praying for you and Monica.

    Dave

    December 18, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    • Interesting to note the antonyms we normally put together versus how the gospels present them. Thanks for that, Dave!

      December 18, 2012 at 2:11 pm

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