In 1943, artist Norman Rockwell created a series of four oil paintings which would become known as the Four Freedoms. Based on a wartime speech by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, these paintings depicted basic human rights that later became a part of the United Nations charter, including Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want, and Freedom from Fear. This last painting, Freedom from Fear, is the image that the Lord brought to my mind early this morning.
He said: "The greatest battles are the battles fought in the heart." Long before a general goes to war to fight a national enemy, he has already won a war in his heart: the war over fear. Courage, strength, and fortitude all come from a heart that is settled in its belief that victory is possible, that overcoming is an option. Those who reach this place of peace are either extremely self-confident or (in the case of a believer) extremely God-confident.
God believes, as F.D.R. did, that freedom from fear is an essential human right.* He understands the traumas of war, and purchased our freedom through the death of His Son, Jesus, on the cross. Jesus overcame His fear of death in order to set us free from our fear of the same.
However, this does not mean that we are automatically free from fear! While the external battle has been won, the internal battle still rages. That internal battle can be fierce.
Think about it: What do you fear? No one likes looking directly at the things they are afraid of. I cross the road when there is a dead animal on the other side. Gory death, while fascinating to my boys, does not interest me! For the same reason, I don't watch shows like E.R. or enjoy the violence that is part and parcel of the latest superhero movies my kids enjoy.
Still, I know that for most of us, this obsession with fear and death is not just a sick interest: it is a universal longing to be free from the same. We watch these things because we want to see the hero win, we want to know how we might overcome, given the same scary situation.
What's Your Superpower?
A Facebook friend of mine posted something this week that generated a great number of responses: she asked, "what's your favorite superpower?" Invincibility, invisibility, and underwater breathing were among the responses. Each of us imagines - knowing our own weaknesses, perhaps - what superpower we might find helpful as we face the more terrifying challenges of life. My favorite superpower is flying. Why? Because I believe that when we gain perspective through "air power," we can go back into war with better strategies. (To read more on this, click here.)
But we are human, not heroes. Natural, not divine. I can't fly (yet!) and you're not invincible. So how can we be free from the things we fear?
As I listened to the Lord this morning, He gave me a scriptural analogy that helps me envision my freedom. I must confess that I was not awake "because the Holy Spirit woke me," or because I am so devoted to early-morning quiet times. (I prefer a little more sleep if I can get it! :-) I was awake because I was afraid.
Worry, fear, and anxiety can do serious damage to a heart. The Bible says that in the last days, men's hearts will fail them for fear. I have felt the kind of fear that stops your breathing, the kind that feels like an anxiety attack, the kind that wakes you in the middle of the night, terrified of what "might" happen. It is horrible. Surely there can be, as Luke describes, "fear and an expectation of those things which are coming on the earth." (See Luke 21:26.) Believers are, as Rockwell's painting illustrates so poignantly, currently at war.
At times, it seems that the devil is winning. I have had the enemy lie to me this very week saying that there is no hope; there is no "superpower" that can deliver me from the terrifying "expectations" he presents to me. I know he does it to you, too. That fear can be so crippling it robs you of breath, keeps you from prayer, and reduces you to a child who longs for parental protection!
But that, my friends, is the good news! Because just like in the image above, we have some serious parental protection! We have the Father of ALL things rending the heavens to come down and save us through His Son, Jesus. We have, according to that very same verse (Luke 21:26) the hope-filled expectation that "the powers of the heavens will be shaken." We have the best superpower known to man, and that is the resurrection power of God - IN US!
I praise God that fear woke me up this morning! Because when I am awake, I am awake to the Word of God, and that Word overcomes every fear. When the devil woke me up, here is how the Lord responded:
"Love is the inoculation against fear. The love of God has been shed abroad in your heart, and you have nothing to fear. Think of my love as a vaccination. When the enemy tries to infect you with the disease of fear, think of My love as coursing through your veins, protecting you from every lie he tries to dispel through your heart and your body. Think of the blood of Jesus, already given to you as a divine transfusion, which vaccinates you against the demonic infestations of fear. Draw upon My love, activate it through your worship and your prayers until it courses so strongly that it drives out and expels every negative thing. Turn your heart towards My love and you will win the battle over fear!"
I had to get up at 5:30am to write this to you today. I know that many of you suffer from similar struggles with fear. And I long for you to feel your Savior's superpower, which sets you free! Face the fear. Don't worry if it wakes you up! Go to battle, confident that the love of God vanquishes all fear. Eradicate it. Destroy it. Divorce it. If you do nothing else today, FIGHT for your freedom! Hang your "Hamans." Fight for your heart to be at peace again, because HIS LOVE never fails!
Prayer for Victory over Fear (from Prayers that Avail Much, by Germaine Copeland)
Father, in Jesus' Name, I confess and believe that no weapon formed against me shall prosper, and any tongue that rises against me in judgment I shall show to be in the wrong. I believe I dwell in the secret place of the Most High. I shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the ALMIGHTY GOD whose power no foe can withstand - this secret place hides me from the strife of tongues.
I believe the wisdom of God's Word dwells in me, and because it does, I realize that I am without fear or dread or evil. In all my ways I know and acknowledge God and His Word, it is health to my nerves and sinews, and marrow and moistening to my bones.
I am strengthened and reinforced with mighty power in my innerself by the Holy Spirit Himself Who dwells in me. God is my strength and my refuge, and I confidently trust in Him and in His Word. I am empowered though my union with Almighty God. This gives me the superhuman, supernatural strength to walk in divine health and to live in abundance.
God Himself has said, I will never leave you without support or forsake you or let you down, my child. I will not.. in any degree leave you helpless or relax My hold on you... assuredly not! (Hebrews 13:5 AMP)
I take comfort and am encouraged and confidently and boldly say, "The Lord is my helper. I will not be seized with alarm. I will not fear or be terrified, for what can man do to me?"
I confess and believe that my children are disciples taught of the Lord and obedient to God's will. Great is the peace and undisturbed composure of my children - because God Himself contends ith that which contens with me and my children, and He gives them safety and eases them. God will perfect that which concerns me.
This Word of God that I have spoken is alive and full of power. It is active and operative. It energizes me, and it affects me. As I speak God's Word, it is sharper than any two-edged sword, and it is penetrating into my joints and into the marrow of my bones. It is healing to my flesh. It is prosperity for me. It is the magnificent Word of Almighty God. According to HIS WORD that I have spoken, SO BE IT! Hallelujah!
*"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." -Galatians 5:1. For more Bible scriptures on freedom, click here. To read F.D.R.'s historic speech on freedom, click here.
© Deborah Perkins / www.HisInscriptions.com
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A severe hearing loss from childhood caused Deborah Perkins to develop what she now calls her secret weapon: tuning in to God's voice. A Wellesley College graduate and an award-winning writer, Deborah is now a wife and mother of 3 boys. Deborah has devoted over 25 years to professional and lay Christian ministry in New England and beyond. Her passion is inspiring people to cultivate greater intimacy with God.