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Eliminate the “D” Words Part 2 - Dread
Matthew 10:28; Philippians 4:6-7; Hebrews 13:5-6; 1 Peter 5:6-7; Psalm 23
Continuing my series on negative “D” words, the next word I am analyzing is “Dread”. Following on to Steve’s shorter devotional on fears he published on May 2, dread has become the go-to word for the many uncertainties and fears that people have.
As defined by the American Heritage Dictionary dread, an intransitive verb, is:
To be in terror of; fear intensely
To anticipate with alarm, distaste or reluctance
To hold in awe or reverence (archaic)
It isn’t enough these days to have simple fears or anxieties. We have to DREAD everything that happens. We dread our doctor’s appointment to have some tests done, we dread our performance review at work, we dread plunging into a major task or volunteer assignment, we dread our upcoming get-together with hated relatives at a major holiday event, we dread our next election, we dread to read the headlines in the newspaper, we dread the stock market reports, we dread the drive in rush hour traffic, we even dread the long airplane flight to go on vacation. See what I mean? We can’t just fear something or find it to be an annoyance, we have to be in dread of it. We drown in dreads every day and they build upon one another, causing panic, physical reactions and serious anxiety.
How do I know this? I have been a “worst-case” dread junkie my entire life. I have experienced all of the dreads I listed in the previous paragraph and more; I have lain awake dreading a long flight or a test in school or a medical appointment or a performance review. I have obsessed over 401K and retirement fund performance, nuclear war, famine, terrorist attacks, wildfires, EMPs (destruction of our electrical grid by solar flares or a nuclear attack) and unreasonable government mandates and new laws. I used to dread talking to my Mom or getting together with family before she passed away 15 years ago because we would often get into a fight over something completely mundane.
Thanks be to our Great Triune God, the Holy Spirit works within us to ease or eliminate these dreads. Some of these worst-case “big” fears could indeed happen in our lives, but obsessing about them will not change the outcome. Praying about them, however, WILL change us, give us peace, and God can surprise us with joy every day with the answers to prayer. I still get into the “worst-case” do-loops, but I know that when I do, that is the time for fervent prayer. Going back to the definition of Dread, take a look at the (supposedly) archaic third definition. The only thing we should dread is the One who can destroy both body and soul in Hell. God loves us, but we should tremble in dread at the power He has (just look at the amazing Universe He created) and be in a perpetual state of awe, reverence and gratitude for our salvation regardless of our temporal circumstances. Philippians 4:6-7, by the way, is my “go-to” passage when I feel dread.
Here are some favorite Bible verses to ponder and pray about that help remove that worldly dread from our lives:
“Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
“…He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” so that we confidently say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?””
“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”
1 Peter 5:6-7
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”