Last updated 1/25/2022 at Noon
We had our Christmas season’s peace shattered by our youngest Scottie, Chewy, developing an explosive case of lymphatic tumors. Our little angel passed on to heaven two days after Christmas.
I believe that nothing bad comes without bringing something good. At this time, the good I see from Chewy’s passing is a renewed awareness of the dangers of chronic fear.
Chewy had been beaten, abused, and occasionally starved in his former home. He lived with us for four years, becoming a happy dog most of the time. One can counsel an abused child, but a Scottie never forgets abuse.
Chewy was terrified by many things, including raised voices, a popping fire, exploding fireworks, and the sound of gunshots — even two miles away. Somewhere deep inside, fear would grip his precious little heart.
Dogs and humans have very similar physiology, which is why they were used in medical testing until outlawed in this country. Below is a brief excerpt from a HealthPrep article about some of the impacts of chronic fear:
“Fear is part of the human (and animal) experience.
It activates certain chemical processes in our bodies that make the memories more significant and causes us to think irrationally.
Individuals who do not face their fears or overcome them may either develop Stockholm syndrome, where they begin to cope with terrible and frightening situations by becoming submissive and apathetic, or (the complications of) post-traumatic stress disorder from long-term exposure to fear.
It is not the fear itself that can lead to serious health problems but our inability to overcome it.
The long-term damage from fear can damage our brains, cardiovascular system, digestive system, and lead to premature aging or sudden death.”
Clearly, we must rid ourselves of all chronic fear if we wish to remain healthy and have a happy life here on earth.
Jesus was emphatic about fear:
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
— John 14:27
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
— 1 Peter 5:6–7
We each have choices to make, and we make them every day. We can choose faith and life, or we can choose to be constantly afraid and send ourselves to an early grave. Seven and a half years ago, when I was first diagnosed with “Stage 4” cancer, I chose life and faith. I’m much stronger and healthier today than I was 10 years ago.
The Holy Bible has many references to casting out your fears and building faith in God. One of my favorites is the 23rd Psalm.
My spiritual exploration has taken me into learning about Bible symbols. A little help with defining some of the underlying symbols in Psalm 23 can make it more powerful.
1.?The LORD is my Shepherd; I shall not want. “Shepherd” means that God takes care of me, and I will want for nothing, just as a good shepherd takes care of everything for his flock.
2.?He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. “Green pastures” is a symbol of all the good things that I need, AKA: daily bread. “Still waters” affirms that my soul (waters) is at peace.
3.?He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. “Restoreth my soul” represents a promise of complete salvation. “Righteousness” means right thinking; I no longer allow fear and dread to fill my mind.
4.?Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Notice the words “shadow of death,” not “valley of death.” We are being told that death is a false belief; what we call death is a transition. Separation from God’s presence — lack of faith — is the only thing to fear.
5.?Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. “Mine enemies” are doubts, fears, criticism, and lack of faith that I let enter my mind. An anointed head represents a mind filled with joy, praise, and faith. My mind is filled to overflowing with love of the Lord and my fellow man.
6.?Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. This is affirmation that I know my life is filled with good things and I have the promise of life after I pass on; there is salvation after the “shadow of death.”
I remember reading this Psalm years ago and thinking that a lot of it didn’t pertain to a modern person. Once I learned the symbolism, it became a perfect prayer to remind me to release fear.
The world wants you to be afraid. God wants you to be at peace. Choose peace.
For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.
— 1 Timothy 4:10