Being afraid is like being trapped in a small, dark room. The darkness can be so thick it feels suffocating. You reach out, but you can’t find the exit. But find the light switch, turn on a light, and everything changes. Even a small light helps you get your bearings and shows you the way out.
One thing that doesn’t help when you’re afraid or worried is pretending that the fear will go away if you ignore it. Fear must be dispelled. You need to find the way out.
You need to give a toast at your best friend’s wedding, or make an acceptance speech for an award you’ve won, or sell a group at work on a new project—and you’re dying inside because this is one speaking engagement you can’t say no to.
You aren’t alone. Also known as glossophobia, the fear of public speaking is one of the very most common fears. As with any fear, the best way to overcome glossophobia is to deal with it at its roots.
God is our best defense against fear—and against the things we fear.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.—Psalm 46:1–2
Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him.—Psalm 91:14–15
It is widely believed that we are born with only three fears: fear of loud noises, fear of falling, and fear of abandonment. These, according to some psychologists, are hardwired into our nature; all others are acquired. Fear of spiders, fear of the dark, fear of dentists, and the rest are programmed into our psyche through either firsthand experience or information we take in.
Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.
—André Gide (French writer, humanist, and moralist; 1869–1951)
Great deeds are usually wrought at great risks.
—Herodotus (Greek historian; 490–430 bc)
Like life itself, the Bible is full of triumphs that could just as easily have ended in disaster. If the heroes in those stories had turned and run the other way, who could have blamed them? Moses defied the world power of his day to lead his people to the Promised Land. Gideon led a band of 300 against an army too large to number.1 Samson, armed only with the jawbone of a donkey, took on an army singlehandedly.2 Teenaged David, with only a slingshot, denounced and trounced the giant Goliath, who had the entire army of Israel shaking in their sandals.3
Question: Does God really have a wonderful plan for my life, like I keep hearing? Often it feels more like a bumper-car ride—continually running into one obstacle after another and getting bounced in every direction.
Answer: God does have a plan for each of us, and it is one that is perfectly tailored to our unique makeup, abilities, and interests. Not only that, but He wants to let us in on that plan and work with us to bring it to pass.
The day dawned fine as I set out to walk up the Great Orme, a limestone headland on the north coast of Wales. I walked along cheerfully in glorious sunshine, map in hand. The Great Orme stood firm, unchanged.
The road upon which I walked led me around the edge of the headland. The gentle sea breeze was invigorating at first, but soon a wind blew up over the sea and storm clouds gathered overhead. In minutes my coat was becoming heavy with rain. The Great Orme stood firm, unchanged.
Long before a giant shark attacked its first victim in Jaws, before Indiana Jones stumbled onto his first booby trap, and before computer graphics breathed new life into zombies, one of the most terrifying scenes on the big screen was when someone stepped into quicksand. No Tarzan movie was complete until he had rescued some innocent soul from certain death in that awful ooze or the villain’s final breath had gurgled to the surface.
Some people think that they can’t be happy unless they’re free of problems. They do okay as long as everything goes their way, but the minute anything negative happens, it pokes a pin in their balloon and whatever happiness they had been feeling vanishes. Because they let circumstances dictate their level of happiness, they are always bracing themselves for the next letdown and are never able to relax enough to have fun or feel good about life. They will never find lasting happiness using that approach.