The Important Role That Fear Plays in Faith

Scary situations offer a chance to build on your trust in God.

Posted in , Aug 13, 2019

Stuck in an elevator

What do you do when you’re stuck in an elevator?

I’m not claustrophobic. At least I’ve never really thought I was. I know people who have to take an anti-anxiety pill to lie in one of those tunnel-like tubes for an MRI. Not me.

But an elevator? One that’s not going up or down? One where you could be stuck conceivably for hours? That was a different story. 

Lunchtime. I was dashing out to get a bite to eat in one of the elevators I’ve used thousands of times.

It stopped. The sign said we were on the fifth floor. But the doors didn’t open and no matter how often we pushed the down button, the elevator didn’t move.

I was not alone. My colleague Ansley was with me. She, too, was heading out to run a quick errand. And here we were, going nowhere. 

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We pushed the call button on the intercom. We told the man on the speaker that the elevator would not budge. He said he’d call an engineer. Call an engineer? How long would that take? “This is normal,” he said. Normal? No, I didn’t think so.

We chatted about our vacations. We showed each other pictures of the beach on our cell phones. We reassured each other that we would not be in this elevator forever.

It wasn’t the situation that was frightening. It was what my imagination could do with it. What if we were stuck for hours? What if they couldn’t pry the doors open? What if the elevator went into a free fall, slamming into the basement?

Fears are real. They shouldn’t be ignored. Having fears doesn’t mean you’re wobbly in your faith. It’s just a reminder to trust God. “Listen to your fears and go with them,” my prayer practice tells me. Then give them up.

I did. We talked some more. The man on the intercom talked. We pushed the down button. Nothing. Finally the elevator started moving. We stepped out into the lobby. Free at last. It’d had been 15 minutes at the most. No more. Ansley and I parted ways, and I ran my errands.

Fifteen minutes later I was back in that elevator going back up to the ninth floor. Did I have to take a deep breath? Did I hesitate a bit? Maybe a little, but there are scary things we have to do every day when you think about it. Driving a car, crossing a street, going up and down in an elevator.

Courage is fear that has said its prayers,” goes an old saying. It’s an everyday thing.

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