Fear is an odd thing. It is a liar and cheat, a common tool of the enemy to bog down Jesus’ People. If you’re anything like me, you know the signs of fear and anxiety: knots in your stomach, sweaty palms, trouble sleeping (and sometimes sleeping too much!). Continue reading
Today, I watched a video from Elevations Church, where guest Pastor Keion Henderson spoke on what felt like many different topics (the full sermon video is below). Continue reading
Good News: God’s Perfect Love casts out fear!
It’s that time of year again. Comical ghosts and witches hang from people’s trees, and corn mazes are celebrating Halloween by putting scary components into it.
Who knew that fear could make such money! Billions upon billions of dollars are spent a year to make us jump and scream, as we watch movies and videos that fuel our deepest nightmares. Why such an odd relationship with fear? We love it, but we hate it.
In the real world—past everything Halloween has to offer—there is much to be afraid of. Fearof.net reports the top 100 phobia’s list, with arachnophobia (fear of spiders) coming up first. Outside of our personal phobias, we fear death, destruction, and rejection. What are we to do, as Christians, when the pangs of fear come and anxiety causes us complete distress?
Psalm 56:3 gives us the antidote for ANY fear we might be facing.
“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” (Psalm 56:3, ESV)
You may be saying, “Annalee, you don’t understand the amount or complexity of my anxiety. This just seems like an easy answer, a band aid to put on my problems. I need much more than this!” Friend, I want to encourage and be honest with you: I know the problem of anxiety well. I have been dealing with social anxiety and emetophobia, the fear of throwing up, for a little over 5 months now. At any time, my thoughts turn towards a plethora of anxiety-inducing thoughts, including the fear of throwing up in front of people, and the idea of throwing up itself. It has caused me extreme distress, not only mentally, but emotionally and physically, too. As if this were not enough, I am taking a Public Speaking class where these fears seem to have a much higher chance in my brain of actually happening!
Today, on the eve of having to give a group presentation, I want to say that I, too, know what you are going through—and that Jesus wants to give us truths to hold on to when the enemy and our own minds try to lie to us. I encourage you to place these verses in your arsenal when attacked by the enemy with fear!
In the panic of anxiety, remember who you are, and whose you are. Your Father in Heaven is faithful; Jesus will never leave your side, and the Holy Spirit is your Helper (Deuteronomy 7:9; Matthew 28:20; John 14:26). Things get scary, and terrifying even, I know. But Christ has gotten you this far, hasn’t He? May God comfort and still our racing hearts as He reminds us that 1) He is with us, and 2) He will help us, just as He always has.
Do you know Jesus?
“…And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
(Matthew 28:20, ESV)
These were some of Jesus’ last words before He ascended up to heaven. He promised this one very profound thing, because He knew it is what people need most: First, His Salvation, and two, the knowledge of His near Presence.
Where are you at today with Jesus? Is He a myth to you? Are you confused about why He came and died in the first place? Learn more about Jesus here.
Please pray for…
- The Chibok girls, and Leah Sharibu. Reports have said that Leah is being held as a slave. Pray she returns home soon!!!
- For all those struggling with anxiety, depression, and mental illness. There are many more people in this category than we could know.
Thank you for your prayers.
I read in this report that 86% of displaced peoples in Northern Nigeria, approximately 1.2 million people, are currently afraid of going back to their home towns and villages in Northeast Nigeria. This letter was written to these people, in response.
To the People in Northeast Nigeria, Beloved by Christ:
Hello. You may never know me; and I may never know you. Living halfway across the world from you, I have not experienced your culture, and I do not truly know the world you live in.
I will not pretend that I understand the pain you have experienced; I cannot.
I look at pictures of your children, and I cry at their gaunt, fragile bodies.
I hear about the land you once inhabited, your homestead, where you once grew your wheat, making a living. I have heard that those people, those locusts with human flesh on, stole it, stole it all, after stealing the lives of your loved ones– those who tried to escape.
I hear about these things. But how could I ever know them? It seems trite, even insulting, to write such a letter to you.
So much, so many has been stolen from you. Your fathers. Your mothers. Your children. Your lovers. Your husbands, your wives. Your innocence. Your homes and villages, wrecked by these locusts with human skin on.
And the miles you walked, ran, and hid to get away. As scorching as the heat that once made Hagar cry out in the desert, you walked your weary bodies across the highest of temperatures to get away from those locusts– those men who rob, and kill, and destroy.
You may have almost died… maybe some of those closest to you did die. I could never be able to understand this feeling: the horror you experienced as they slipped away.
All I can do is cry, when I think about it. Cry for you, cry for them. Cry for the pain that now keeps you awake at night.
By now, millions of people, in the same predicament as you, have found some sort of shelter. An internally displaced people’s camp, a friend’s house. Maybe even an old school building, one similar to the one your children learned in, before it was all taken away.
Maybe you have been there for one week. Maybe it’s been six months; maybe it’s been whole years, since you once saw your homeland. And they want you to go back.
The government, who, for many of you, did nothing to protect you, and nothing to disarm your enemies– they now say it is okay to go home.
I cannot imagine how you feel; I know that probably everybody feels something different. But according to this report, it says that most of you are afraid. Afraid of the known; afraid of the unknown. Afraid of the past; afraid of the present. Afraid of the future.
Friend, if this is where you are, I want to encourage you.
I know that I could never fathom the many atrocities you have been forced to experience.
But there was a time in my life, where much of what I held dear was stolen, too.
Food did not enter my mouth. My “homeland” of friends had to be left. For a time, I felt I had lost my own family.
The details of this story are for another day. I went through the most painful, heartbreaking time of my life, and let me tell you: I was a desert. I was dry bones. At times, I literally lacked even water; my own hands would not give it.
Fear enclosed me on all sides. I was afraid of the past happening again, and was afraid of what my future would hold. Friend, I was terrified.
But this is the Truth: even when I did not, could not see Him, Jesus Christ– the Lord of Heaven and Earth– was working for my good. Even when I felt, even when I was, alone, He was there, with me, in the darkness, chaos, and confusion.
When I was thirsting, spiritually and physically, Jesus quenched my thirst with His Promise: “I will never, never fail you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5, NIV).
Friend, His Presence, according to Hebrews 13:5-6, makes Him your Helper. The Hand you hold during this trial, this storm. And when you are on the other side of this?
I pray that you will be saying, “Because He is near me, I will not fear.”
Jesus is Your Helper. Sounds trite, doesn’t it?
Especially coming from the mouth of a person who doesn’t know the first thing about your tragedy.
But I do know about mine.
It’s been three years later, and I can promise you this: If you place your trust in Jesus Christ, none of this will be wasted.
And He, being Your Good Shepherd, will give you life. Life, abundantly.
He will restore back all of what those locusts stole. He will restore you.
So, don’t be afraid. Be wise. Be cautious. But, with Christ on your side,
Don’t be afraid.
We are praying for you. You matter; You are Loved.
I want to bless you, by praying for you, here.
“Dear Jesus, Thank You for each and every one of these people. Thank You for keeping them alive.
Please let them hear, today, of Your Unfailing Love.
Please help them to dream again. Help them to flourish, and restore ALL that these locusts stole from them.
In Jesus’ Name we pray,
Again, we love you.
Yours in Prayer to Christ,
Annalee (of ISAIAH 62 PRAYER MINISTRY)
“So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, The crawling locust, The consuming locust, And the chewing locust, My great army which I sent among you. You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, And praise the name of the Lord your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you; And My people shall never be put to shame.”
(Joel 2:25-26, NKJV)
Jesus came, that we might have Life, and have it abundantly.
In fact, He paid the ultimate price for us to have eternal life.
Learn more about this God, who lost everything, that we might gain everything in Him, here.
Please continue praying for those who have been internally displaced from their homes, in Northeast Nigeria.
We are called to be Jesus’ Hands and Feet, being the practical way others can claim that Jesus is their Helper. You may find a great resource for charities to give to that are currently involved in aiding IDPs in the Boko Haram insurgency, here.
Thank you for all of your prayers and support!
On August 16th, 2017, an article came out that changed much of how people will view Boko Haram’s kidnapping of the Chibok school girls. It is now known that many of the Chibok school girls came together and helped document their time in captivity, together, in Koranic school books they were given by Boko Haram. In it, one humongous revelation was revealed: Boko Haram did not originally come to Chibok Secondary School to kidnap the Chibok girls, but they instead came to steal machine-making supplies (source). It was when they could not find these machine-making materials that they decided to kidnap the Chibok girls—making their kidnap, not a pre-meditated ploy created by a “brilliant” Boko Haram, but rather purely accidental (source).
During their three-year enslavement to Boko Haram, the Chibok girls had a “staunch belief that they would one day go home” (source). Apart from these revelations being proof that the Chibok girls never gave up Hope, it is also a shocking narrative about all of the horrific cruelty they went through. Those who did not convert to Islam were threatened with decapitation, while some of the girls were beaten.
There is one shocking story that sticks out. Naomi Adamu, one of the writers of the journals, claimed that one day, Boko Haram (BH) members brought out jerrycans, supposedly full of petrol, and told those who did not convert to Islam that they would be doused with the petrol and burned. When the girls became terrified, the BH members “cracked into laughter,” as the girls realized there was nothing but water in the jerrycans (source).
Even being faced with possible imminent death, decapitation threats, and murderous violence on a daily basis, it is awe-inspiring to see that so many of these Christian girls from Northern Nigeria did not flinch in their Hope, nor in their commitment to Jesus Christ. There is one thing to thoughtfully note about the story mentioned above: fear is truly a lie.
The Psalms speak about this concept of trusting the Lord, and not giving into fear, many times; one of those times is in Psalm 91.
“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. If you say, ‘The Lord is my refuge,’ and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.”
(Psalm 91:4-13, NIV)
Whether one’s fears are legitimate and real, or irrational, Jesus doesn’t want us to be afraid of anything. But how can one, when faced with certain death, like the Chibok girls, come through the valley, fearless?
Psalm 91 gives great insight into this. At the beginning of the Psalm, the writer gives a declaration: “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart” (Psalm 91:4). In a world where terror and turmoil are so prevalent, God—through the Psalmist—declares that, like a mother hen with her chicks, He longs to cover people with his feathers, and that it is underneath these feathers that people will find real refuge from the threats going on around them. Jesus, in the New Testament, said something similar: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing” (Matthew 23:37, NIV). The Truth is this: God, toward the Believer, is not a God of wrath or only of Mighty Power; He is a tender God, longing to lavish His Love upon and protect those who trust in Him alone.
The verses following right after verse 4 show us the outcome of coming to Christ, and trusting Him to be our Refuge. “You will not fear…it [pestilence] will not come near you” (Psalm 91:5-7, NIV). This is a second declaration: Because Christ, in His Tender, Loving-kindness is your Shield, you don’t ever have to be afraid of the things that are threatening to harm you. In trusting Jesus, all dread, worry, and fear is removed.
It is only this mighty, tender Love that Christ, God has for His People that removes all fear (1 John 4:18). As Jesus says in Matthew 23:37, this fear-crushing Love is always available to God’s People, but God will not force people to find refuge in Him. They must decide to do so for themselves.
There is a last declaration in Psalm 91: Those who do decide to run to Jesus for refuge from their fears WILL be victorious over whatever threatens them. As Romans 8:37 gallantly proclaims, “…in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” While, heartbreakingly, for so many, the threat of imminent death for the sake of Jesus does become a reality, it is even in these moments that Christ can make one fearless. Jesus does not guarantee that every circumstance will come out perfectly or without loss… but He does promise that fear does not need to be a part of the equation, and that Perfect Peace and even Joy are attainable by trusting in Him.
In the worst of times, Perfect Peace, Joy, and Comfort is ours to take in Christ. And while we live in this fallen world, there is a greater Hope: that Jesus Christ will one day do away with everything that causes us trauma and turmoil, treading “on the lion and the cobra” (Psalm 91:13).
It is each of these journal entries– documenting pain, loss, and at times, fear—that proves how one can overcome by clinging to Christ’s Love, and never giving up Hope in Him.
satan will come and attack using fear; but, like the Chibok girls who have been rescued, Believers will have the victory in Christ Jesus. As these girls continue to heal, and as some of the other Chibok girls are still not home yet, may Christ be their Refuge and Strength: the One that makes them, in His Love, more than conquerors. “I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4, NIV).
Do you know Jesus?
“You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.”
(Psalm 91:13, NIV)
While this verse speaks of eventual victory for the One who trusts in Christ Jesus, it also prophetically speaks of the time when the Messiah, Jesus Christ, defeats satan for good—and, how He has already defeated satan, by dying on the cross for our sins.
As the musician David Crowder sings, “The cross meant to kill is my victory.” Without Jesus Christ, there is no true victory over sin and death. Learn more about who Jesus is, what He did, and how He gave all those who believe in Him true victory, here.
Please pray with me…
“Dear Lord Jesus,
We thank You for what You did on the cross at Calvary. Thank You for dying on the cross for our sin, so that we can have the Victory, Perfect Peace, Comfort, Joy, and everything else we have in You. Dear Jesus, we pray that You would watch over the Chibok girls that are still in captivity; please bring them to You, and give them the Hope that they will one day be freed, too.
Dear Jesus, please help their family and friends, as they struggle with waiting for their Loved Ones to come out of captivity. Please show them Your Faithfulness. May we run to You for refuge Jesus, and not be afraid, even when everything around us tells us to be.
Dear Jesus, please help the Nigerian army, and the Joint Civilian Task Force, as they continue to fight Boko Haram; give them no fear, and help them to come to know You fully. Please help those in traumatic, terrorist situations to trust in You.
In Jesus’ Name we pray,
Thank you for your prayers!!! 🙂
They are the many unsung, unseen forces in the Nigerian military. Women– mothers, daughters, respected leaders in Nigerian society– have given their safety and comfort to fight the evil that is the Boko Haram insurgency. Though almost unheard of when speaking about the military, women make up a good amount of the country’s militia and are an active part of the fight against terrorism. Yet, in an attitude of apprehension and even slight panic, Nigeria has decided to remove more than 200 of its women soldiers from the frontlines of Maiduguri city to the country’s capitol, Abuja. Continue reading