How To Not Be Overtaken By Fear

How does connecting with God and His perfect love cast out fear in your life?

Enveloped in the lived truth of God’s furious love, insecurity is swallowed up in solidity of agape, and anguish and fear give way to hope and desire. ~Brennan Manning

There is a certain fear that comes with moving overseas; not only are you building a new life in a new home with [hopefully] new friends, you must do it in the context of a new culture and language. Everything that used to be easy and obvious suddenly becomes a great struggle and an opportunity for fear to creep in.

When we moved overseas, fear grew in me each time I left our apartment. It grew if I needed to do something out of the ordinary, especially by myself. Grocery shopping, catching the bus, and going to the doctor were things that took greater strength than I ever realized, simply because I was in a completely unknown context. The dread of the unknown, of the possible faux pas, of doing it all wrong started paralyzing me. Before I moved overseas, fear never crossed my mind when I thought about shopping or answering the phone.

I remember the first time I had to ride the bus by myself. My husband wrote down every possible detail I needed to know and yet my heart raced as the bus approached the curb. The possibilities of catching the wrong bus or offending someone overcame me. I never batted an eye when considering catching a bus in my home country. But being in a different place without a good grasp of the language filled me with anxiety.

I slowly stepped on the bus, quickly shuffling to a seat as the driver yelled at me for being too slow. Suffice it to say, I made it. I got on that bus all by myself, observed how the people pressed the button shortly before their stop, I did the same, and got off on the right stop. Or close enough anyway. The angst etched this memory into my mind forever.

I could repeat to you the memory of the first time I went to the doctor by myself or the first time I went grocery shopping alone. These are things that happened 10 years and 4 children ago, and yet I will not forget the fear.

It’s the same fear I battle with often now, but in different shapes and shadows. My fear now consists of what’s ahead of us (yet another move), my children’s future, the political state of our country, and so on. Our fears could be listed as the sand.

It is natural as God’s children to face fear as we step out in obedience to live as He has asked; for some of us that means moving to faraway lands where the possibilities for trouble may be near and serious. Still, there was a Man who faced the greatest fear the world has ever known, and we can learn from Him.

This Man knew His future, which made the desperation and fear greater than we can imagine. With dismay, He went straight to His Father and wept in the garden. He poured out His heart to His Father while crying tears of blood. The strain—the fear of what He faced—consumed Him.

But it did not overtake him.

The Love of God hid Him and covered Him to the point that He could go to His death in obedience. As He communed with His Father in prayer, Jesus mirrored for us not just how we can go to the Father in our fears, but why.

Jesus knew what He had coming to him and we don’t. What we do know is that we have glory eternal waiting for us and no earthly suffering can compare to that. We know that God keeps His promises and that He is true and trustworthy. We know that we don’t have to fear paying for our sins because they are paid for. We know that we are loved with an everlasting, furious love.

This is the kind of love we can put our hope in, and only this kind of love sets our hearts free from fear.

So, as I face the daily fear of having yet another language blunder or trying to raise my kids completely different from the culture around us, I can hold on to that kind of love. It’s the love of God—the love that upheld Jesus in the garden, the love we see in His word, the love that will cast our deepest fears away and give us glorious hope.


Have you found yourself inundated by the fears and challenges of cross-cultural life?

How might you connect with the hope of God’s love each day?


  1. Danielle April 20, 2016

    This post was in perfect timing for me! I am living in an African country awaiting election results with daily looming threats of coups and rebel attacks to our city! The past few days (and days to come I’m sure) have been nothing short of emotional turmoil! Are we staying? Are we going? Are we safe? Are we in serious danger? It’s exhausting! I have been repeating truth over and over to myself, He made us, He will carry us, He will sustain us and He will rescue us! Thank you for reminding me that this fear doesn’t have to overtake me!

    1. Anna April 20, 2016

      Been through that.  I’m praying for the peace of God for you this morning, as well as safety.

    2. Caitlin Lieder April 20, 2016

      I am so glad you have been encouraged! What a beautiful testimony you’ve given of trusting in the Lord even through these trying and unstable times you’re going through. I love your image of repeating the truth over to yourself–we must constantly speak His Words to ourselves just as David did in the Psalms! Thank you!

    3. Amy Young April 20, 2016

      It’s the cumulative unknowns, isn’t it :)! I’ll be praying for you and thinking of you.

  2. Amanda April 20, 2016

    Thank you dear Caitlin for the sweet truth you share! Love you!

    1. Caitlin Lieder April 20, 2016

      Thanks for reading and being a constant encouragement, Amanda!!

  3. Anna April 20, 2016

    Just moved to Mali (this week, first time ever in the country.)  There are lots of new learning experiences.  We have seen the many ways God has guided our steps in the past, which gives me a confidence in His leading.  When I have an anxious thought, I try to remind myself that He has it all planned already.  There may be hard, challenging things, especially as we process transition.  The confidence is that knowing we will reach the other side intact, through His strength.

    1. Caitlin Lieder April 20, 2016

      Anna, Transition is so hard but it’s encouraging reading how you’re remembering truth and finding your confidence in Christ. I hope you will continue on and persevere as you settle into your new normal! Thanks for your precious response and encouragement!

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