Today we had a guest speaker at church who stood in for our pastor for Sunday services. She gave a good message, one that addressed fear over faith. Listening to her speak, I remembered a sentence from Ann Voskamp’s book, ONE THOUSAND GIFTS, in which is stated, “It is impossible to give thanks and feel fear simultaneously.” That sentence, one among many that I’ve remembered from the book, seems to make its way to the forefront of my memory often.
Each and every day we all face fears, different kinds of things that make us afraid. Sometimes our own fears are small compared to those others are facing. Sometimes we’re the ones facing the huge, important, life-changing fears. No matter, to remember that point, that when giving gratitude to God for what do have, it is impossible to feel fear at that exact moment, is to remember a way to face the fear without letting it win. I’ve tested the thought more times than I can count. It’s always been true. Whenever I’ve felt fear, whether over something important or important only to me, I’ve noticed that remembering to give thanks for something in my life cancels out the fear.
If we’ve lived to a certain age, at least past our twenties, and maybe into our thirties, we “get it”. Once we’ve grown out of adolescence, and perhaps married and taken on parenthood, we realize how much we have to be thankful for in our lives. Some people take longer to make the connection, to understand that what we consider to be “ours” is actually only ours because God is gracious enough to let us have it, be that anything material or (more importantly) the people in our lives that have become so important to us. I know that’s where I often stumble. I don’t want to be reminded that my loved ones, my children and my grandchildren, my husband, my extended family, my friends, all those I cherish are but gifts from God. He has given me the gift of having those precious beings in my life, but in reality they belong to Him. Many times those very ones who bring me such joy, who have special places in my heart, are the ones who cause me the most fear. It’s at those times, when I can feel the fear taking over and winning, that if I remember to thank God for the very existence of them, for the very opportunity and gift of loving them, that I can no longer fear. Thanking Him for my loved ones reminds me that they are really His, and the fear that is surrounding me on their behalf begins to dissipate. It doesn’t happen immediately, but it does happen.
Doing the gratitude thing to cancel out fear works in all sorts of situations, not only when it comes to our loved ones. For as many times as we feel fear and for as many reasons, there is always something right in front of us that we know is a gift from God. We know it like we know our names, but we don’t always think it. When we consciously take a moment to think it, to make ourselves see it, and to name it so that we can thank God for it, that fear living inside us seems to evaporate. In my case I can feel a type of lightening of my load (which is usually the world carried on my shoulders). It’s nice to give that up for awhile, even if only a few minutes, to that One much larger than I. Later, of course, the fear may come back. When that happens, giving gratitude will once again chase it away.
I’m more than a little glad that I read Ann Voskamp’s book. I’m more than a little glad that I know gratitude can counteract fear. Gratitude can slow us down, make us realize that we’ve been given countless things from God, and that in the larger scheme of things (for after all, in the midst of our fears we seem to have tunnel vision), He cares for us enough to have given us what we already have. Knowing that, it’s easier to realize He is with us in our fears and that those, too, are under His power. Those, too, those scary things that cause our fear, are not insurmountable to God. Nothing is.
So, this morning, sitting there in church, morning light shining through stained glass windows, our guest speaker giving a message on fear vs. faith, I couldn’t help but remember what I’ve already learned about the power of gratitude to God in the face of any fear. Showing our gratitude, naming our gratitude, telling God of our gratitude, is a powerful weapon against any fear at all.
Today I am grateful for the reminder given me this morning. Today I am grateful that I know the power of gratitude. Now if I can only continue to remember it and apply it whenever I need an antidote of a fear I’m facing.
Today I’m grateful for you and that you’re reading this post!