My husband's job takes him away on trips that last a few days or even a week at a time. Each time he leaves, I battle the fear that he will never return. He boards a flight, and I imagine the plane bursting into flames. He rents a car, and I pray he doesn't get into a car accident.
The truth is, these things could happen. I know women who have lost husbands in car accidents; I know there are times when people walk out the door for something routine and never return; but I can't live constantly worrying about a future that hasn't happened.
I'm not sure if there is a greater fear for women than the fear of what's to come (or what won't come). You and I rightly pray for our husband, children, schools, and whether to pursue a career, but we don't often come to God in peace. Instead we come anxiously awaiting our fate.
Goodness will follow all the days of her life, or her life, or maybe her life, we might think, but surely not my life. It's hard not to have control, and one thing that we can't ever determine is what lies ahead. Thankfully, God's Word is packed with sweet promises that smash all our fearful thinking.
Remember the faithfulness of our Father
In Deuteronomy 32:4, Moses speaks of God as the "Rock" whose works are "perfect" and ways are "justice." He is "a God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he." And we read in 1Thessalonians 5:24 of Paul's confidence in the faithfulness of God: "He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it."
And elsewhere Paul writes that God will finish the good work He began in us (Philippians 1:6). Psalm 89, though a lament, still sings of God's faithfulness: "I will sing of the steadfast love of the LORD, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations … O Lord God of hosts, who is mighty as you are, O LORD, with your faithfulness all around you?" (verses 1, 8).
You and I have to fight to remember the faithfulness of our Father when we are faced with great fears of the future. Ask yourself, how has God been faithful? This year you can count on the Lord to be faithful again.
This doesn't mean that everything will turn out exactly as you desire. This doesn't mean each prayer will be answered as you wish. But it does mean that in God's goodness and sovereignty, He will work all things together as He sees them to be good for you (Romans 8:28). We may not see the evidence of God's faithful hand until the end of our days, but we know it will be there.
Wanting to take control
Until that day when our faith becomes sight, we will continue to struggle. I think there are two reasons I tend to fear the future. The first is that I believe I know what is best for my family and me. I am convinced that I would do what is best, and therefore I want to take control. During these times, I do not trust that the Lord knows best, and I do not trust that He is operating as my Father.
What we all need, I think to myself, is peace, perfect health, wealth, and comfort. We need a life of ease and not sorrow. These are not bad things to desire in and of themselves. As a matter of fact, much of this dream life I hope for is what I will one day receive in heaven. Life is hard and difficult because we live in a fallen world. Once sin entered, there was a noticeable toil to life and work.
But what happens when I fear for the worst about our future? What happens when I see that I might be in danger of receiving these hard things? My temptation is to get anxious and filled with worry. Anxiety can lead to irrational behavior.
I remember one particular day when I was worried about my husband. I sat on my couch waiting for him to call. He was out of town on business, and I wanted to make sure he had arrived safely. I called his cellphone, and there was no answer. After 30 minutes of silence, I imagined he must be busy and continued on with my day.
A few hours passed, and I began to worry. Did he get robbed? Did the plane go down in a ball of flames? My mind began to wander, and assumptions and fears poured in. Then the phone rang. "Hi, Babe," he said in his usual calm and collected voice. “I'm so sorry I didn't call you. My phone died, and I've just now settled into the hotel."
Did all my worrying do anyone any good? Nope. And, thankfully, God has something to say about this. In Matthew 6:27, Jesus asks, "Which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?"
The answer is simple—no one adds anything to his or her life by worrying about the future. Jesus is addressing our not being anxious about our lives, and much of what He addresses has to do with the future: "Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on" (Matthew 6:25).
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No one adds anything to his or her life by worrying about the future.
Not believing God is who He says He is
The second reason I fear the, future is, I think, unbelief. All fear has an element of unbelief, but the fear of what will happen in one's future seems especially derived from a lack of faith. Since God is real and powerful and good, why wouldn't I rest in the unknown?
It's because, during those moments when I feel that everything is out of control, I believe God isn't who He says He is and that I must take matters into my own hands. Essentially I'm saying that God can't handle this mess. He can't handle this concern. He can't handle this potential disaster, so I need to try to fix it through worrying or actions that may not be necessary.
My concern with the future typically involves health and the safety of my family, but yours may be something else. Perhaps your fear of the future involves losing your home, finances, or job. So, because of your fear, you lack faith in God's provision and store up treasures on earth (Matthew 6:19-21) and do not give financially.
Maybe your fear is divorce, so you are tempted to mistrust your husband. There is an endless list of ways we can be tempted to doubt that God can really handle the future.
I imagine that the father of the boy with an unclean spirit didn't have a glowing view of the future for his son. Mark records that the young boy had a spirit in him that made him mute, threw him down, and caused his mouth to foam (Mark 9:17-18). The father brought the boy to Jesus' disciples, who were unable to heal the kid, so he turned to Jesus, who immediately rebuked everyone, saying, "O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you?" (Mark 9:19).
The people had the same problem we do—unbelief. But even with doubt, the father continued to plead with Jesus to heal his son. The father said, "I believe; help my unbelief!" (Mark 9:24). He didn't know what the future would hold for his son, but he knew enough to know that Jesus had the power to save him. He didn't come to Jesus with a mountain of faith—he had little faith.
This should encourage us as we struggle with our own doubts and fears of the future. Even a little faith can protect us from the unnecessary worry and anxiety produced by fear. Though we doubt God can handle it all, He can.
The remedy for fear
God will take care of all our needs. We don't have to fear the future. "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father" (Matthew 10:29).
The only thing that will remedy our fearful, controlling, hungry, anxious hearts is understanding, knowing, and finding more of Him. We need to know that He is good, in control, and mindful of man. All the while, we cry out to the Lord, "I believe; help my unbelief!"
Adapted with permission from Fear and Faith, copyright © 2015 by Trillia J. Newbell. Used by permission of Moody Publishers, Chicago, Illinois.