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Countering Fear with Thanksgiving

I am not a fearful person by nature. (Too fierce for that!) But I’ve experienced fears like I’ve never known the past couple of years. When I work through it logically in my head—I know I shouldn’t cave. But some days when the circumstances roll in like waves, fear wells up and I feel like I can’t breathe, like something is closing off my windpipe.

Thankfully, though, I’ve realized this is an area God wants to grow me in . . . He’s teaching me new lessons. 

My fears may be different from yours, but I think in some sense we all fear making wrong choices, missing God’s will, and fear the pain that comes from conflict with others. And then there is the awareness that the evil one seeks to devour us or our loved ones. He’s always trying to inflict fear of the future, fear of the unknown, fear from the “what ifs.”

“All day long an attacker oppresses me . . .” (Psalm 56:2)

God is using Psalm 56 to help me counter those fears. Simply put—I have no reason to fear as long as my trust is in God. And although my head knows that, it really helps to be reminded that He sees, He knows, and He cares:

“You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?” (v.8)

He is aware of all that is coming against me . . . none of it has taken Him by surprise. I find great comfort in knowing that He is a God of details, and reminding myself that not one hair falls, not one injustice is shown, without His knowledge.

And then we come to this precious promise. I love this truth tucked into verse 9:

“This I know, that God is for me.”

Did you hear that?

Let that sink in a minute.

Pull open your Bible so you can see it for yourself. “God is for me.”

Now check out Romans 8:31:

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?” 

It’s almost like Paul (inspired by the Holy Spirit) is saying, “Look, it’s a no-brainer. Weigh what you’re fearful of, in comparison to God’s commitment to you, and ask yourself how the two sides compare!  Face the angry crowd, the empty bank balance, the prodigal child, the lonely nights . . . with this knowledge, remind yourself Who you belong to and Who is committed to be on your side. The fearful circumstances may bottom out one side of the scale, but if you could place God on the other side . . . the scale would explode!

His commitment to be “for you” outweighs anything that comes against you. God being “for us” doesn’t mean I won’t face opposition, I won’t get cancer, I won’t lose a loved one, or I’ll have plenty of funds for a comfortable life. But His commitment to be “for me” means that I can trust Him to lead me through the opposition, to provide what I need in the midst of cancer or loss, to be my safe place no matter what occurs.

“In God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (v.11) 

That’s the truth . . . now how do I live that out when my heart is racing, my stomach churning, and my windpipe closes? Well, thankfully the Psalmist includes the answer in the next verse: 

“I must perform my vows to you, O God; I will render thank offerings to you.” 

What are my vows?

It is a voluntary expression of praise and gratitude given to God: thanksgiving. Wow. This is what my response is supposed to be in the face of all my fear . . . thankfulness.

There is more to say about this (way more) than what I can cover in a blog post, but let me encourage you to take a peek at these instructions:

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thess. 5:18)

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” (James 1:2–3)

How can I offer thanksgiving for the fearful opposition I’m facing?

For the scary unknown?

Only by remembering Who I belong to, Who is committed to me, and putting my trust in His faithful character. When I offer my “vows,” when I lift up praise and thanksgiving to Him—I am demonstrating that I trust Him to “keep my feet from falling” (v.13), I trust His character and His ways—no matter what I’m facing. I am thanking Him for being my Deliverer and I am pressing into the path of faith He has carved out for me today—“walking before God in the light of life” (Psalm 56:13).

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder. —G.K. Chesterton

What do you fear today?

How will you counter those fears?

I’d love for you to share your heart with me by leaving a comment below.

11 Comments

  • Debbie S

    As I examined my life a while back I became convicted that the continual fear I was experiencing was diametrically opposed to a life of faith. I was raised in the church and had no doubts about Christianity at all. It was “second nature” to me, but in reality I did not grasp the fullness of the Gospel until I realized that my fears and attempts to control my life were actually a form of either denial of or rebellion against a sovereign, all wise, omnipotent, loving Heavenly Father who by His might and grace keeps even the tiniest detail of my live in order. This is for my good (Romans 8:28) but mostly for His own glory!

    Now with this new diagnosis of cancer and the very poor prognosis that accompanies it I have been challenged by the Lord to reaffirm what He has always been, but what I have not always embraced. By His grace alone, I can honestly say that my cancer is God’s very best for me and whether He heals me in this life or in the life to come, “it is well with my soul.”

  • Tambra Lucas

    Just thinking the word fear brings to mind exactly what causes me the most fear. Fighting, arguing, hateful remarks, seeing others hurt, cruelty toward others, family quarrels, disputes, feuds, disagreements between individuals, those things can destroy relationships. I have seen it happen all my life, it absolutely makes me fearful, then angry because I want everything fixed between all parties, as quick as possible, but it doesn’t always work out. Then it makes me ill to my stomach. I am all about That peacemaking!
    Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it. Psalm 34:14

  • Kristina

    I can honestly say if the LORD had not allowed me to experience the fears in my life I would not know Him the way I do, His Word and many benefits from it, or be the woman I am today.
    When I began to change my “Why me?”, to “Why not me?”, to “ThankYou” I can clearly say I’ve heard Him say, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness” 2 Corinthians 12:9
    He is the air I breathe!

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Thank you, Debbie ~

    Such precious truth . . . fully embracing the gospel will dispel fear. I love how you described it in your comment. I love hearing you glorify God through trusting Him in a very difficult season . . . the journey He’s taking you on in this season of cancer.

    I am thankful you are a visible testimony of the power of the gospel as you share this truth with others here: “By His grace alone, I can honestly say that my cancer is God’s very best for me and whether He heals me in this life or in the life to come, “it is well with my soul.”

    Blessings dear friend ~

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Hello Tambra ~

    Yes, I think ungodly conflict and fear is a definite MO (mode of operation) of the enemy. Thankful that greater is the One who is in us, than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4) and that Jesus Himself is our Peacemaker (Eph. 2:14). And I LOVE the verse you quoted: Ps. 34:14!

    Blessings, friend!

  • Kimberly Wagner

    I can honestly say that I totally agree with you on that, Kristina!
    Great word 🙂

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Linda Suit

    Kim, we sat at the hospital today with the family of a dear friend who was having very serious surgery. A malignant mass in his kidney that had invaded the arteries flowing from the aorta. The surgery was to be 8-12 hours long with a team of 5 surgeons. They painted no rosy picture could bleed out in a matter of seconds. After he was taken into surgery he went into atrial fib. It took 2 hours to overcome this so they could begin the surgery. 2 days go the entire surgery was almost cancelled because they found a spot on his rib. After 3 hours we were told they would be closing him up shortly. All these things, one fear after another. We feared the worst with each new issue. When the Doctors called the family into the prayer room, I prayed for God’s grace, but still I was gripped by fear. Well, God is still in the miracle business. He survived, the entire malignant tumor was removed in 1/3 of the time, and this precious family still has their husband and father. This posting today literally brought me to my knees with gratitude and asking God to forgive me for not trusting His will. Thank you, friend.

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Dearest Linda,

    I am praising God with you for his mercy and power. Such a sweet and tangible answer to prayer, thank you for sharing! I pray God’s evident work will continue to be the source of strength your friends draw from as they continue this journey of recovery.

    Blessings dear friend ~

  • Jodi

    Just yesterday I asked a dear sister in the Lord to pray for me that the Lord would heal my mind. I just want simplicity…It doesn’t seem like anything has ever been simple for me. I have a tendency to complicate everything. She responded…there’s power in praise..Thank Him for all that He has done for you.

    Why is that the last thing that we want to do when surrounded by fear but it is the best thing that we can do because it lifts our eyes away from ourselves and put them on Him.

  • Kimberly Wagner

    So true, Jodi: Praise “lifts our eyes away from ourselves and puts them on Him”

    There is real power in praise! So thankful you have a wise friend 🙂

    Joining you in your prayer for healing and simplicity for your life ~