When Faith Meets Fear

I answered the phone. “This is Susan, from Dr. So-and-so’s office,” said the voice on the other end. “I have the results of your PET scan.”

I’ve grown accustomed to calls from the doctor’s office, but I am not always braced for what they have to say. Susan continued…

“…Confirmed your tumors continue to shrink.” Phew! Good news.

“…Suspicious lesion around  your pancreas…come in for a CT scan to follow-up.” There it was. The bad news.

I had been on chemotherapy for two months already. The words “suspicious lesion” were not what I wanted to hear.

Plus, there was that odd pain I’d noticed in my right side. Since high school anatomy was two decades ago, I Googled “pancreas” and found out it’s located on the right side…in the exact location of my ache. Now it was officially time to worry.


How could the cancer spread while it is shrinking the other tumors? one part of my brain rationalized. Cancer is a mystery; anything is possible the other side argued.

It was a week before Thanksgiving, and to be honest, I was ticked that I had to wrestle through fear and emotions again when I should have been focused on family and thankfulness.

Wasn’t it enough that I had staked my faith in what I know to be true? Did I have to do this all over again? Wasn’t a one-time victory over fear enough?

Honestly, no…once is not enough. Fear is an emotion, and we all know emotions come and go like the wind (more frequently for some of us than for others).

Fear is a normal, and natural, reaction to the unknown. I’m not the first to experience it. And I won’t be the last. Even the disciples  experienced fear. As a matter of fact, it almost got the best of one of them.

So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind,he was afraid. (Matthew 14:29, 30).

Peter wasn’t the type who was prone to fear. He was bold. He was brash. He was the one who challenged Jesus, “If it’s really you, tell me to get out of this boat…right here in the middle of the lake.” A typically-fearful person wouldn’t do that.

Peter wasn’t all talk either. He actually got out of the boat. He walked on top of the water…without a flotation device.

He was bold. He took a step of faith. Then he felt the wind pick up. He saw the clouds roll in. He heard the thunder in the distance.

And his faith melted away into fear. It happens to the best of us.

We step out in faith, believing God is going to come through. We’re going to get the job. The relationship will be mended. The scans will come back clear.

Then the winds pick up and the clouds roll in. They hire someone else. The relationship becomes more strained. The scans reveal a “suspicious lesion.”

Our faith melts and we begin to sink into a sea of fear. So, what do we do then?

If we’re smart, we do what Peter did.

And beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” (verse 30).

Peter took his eyes off of his circumstances–off of the howling wind and rolling waves–and fixed them again on Jesus. He recognized his fear for what it was…a fickle emotion rooted in his circumstances.

Fear is a natural response; it focuses on our changing circumstances and loses heart. Faith is a supernatural response; it clings tightly to the One who never changes. Peter didn’t rely on his ability to swim back to the boat, He put his faith in the One who controls the winds and the waves.

And what happened next?

Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him” (verse 31).

When we cry out to God, He will not let us drown in our fear. He will rescue us. Every time.

We may have to wrestle fear again…and again, but we don’t have to be overwhelmed by it. Like Peter, we can learn that faith is not dependent on our feelings, but on the faithfulness of the One who calls us to step out of the boat.

So, whatever happened with that “suspicious lesion”? The CT scan showed it was just my normal, boring ol’ pancreas. So, see…no need for fear in the first place. 🙂


Read my whole cancer story here.

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23 thoughts on “When Faith Meets Fear

  1. Oh yes, living with chronic illness certainly means facing fear again and again and then again. What on earth would we do without Jesus? Thank you for this beautiful post today! And I am praising God for your normal boring ole pancreas! Heart Hugs, Shelly <3

  2. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if conquering fear *was* a one time event?? I’ve found myself marveling this week again that I’ve struggled with fear so strongly in a particular area when God has so graciously dealt with me in that area time and time and time again. He continues to be gracious, though, and remind me of His faithfulness, and that my focus has to stay on Him…not on the circumstances around me. Such an excellent reminder, Nancy…thank you for sharing! And I’m so glad for good news about the boring old pancreas!

    1. Thank you, Jen. As you well know, fear tends to creep in at the most unexpected moments. Praying God’s peace for you today, friend. Thank you for stopping by.

  3. Girl – you just ministered to my heart BIG TIME. Thank you! If you’ve seen my recent blog post on the very subject of my FEAR that consumes me at times, you’ll know exactly why this post was just what I needed to be reminded of. And by the way, I’m praising God you have a boring ol’ pancreas! 🙂 (((Hugs)))

  4. Nancy, I love this! That is my exact same take on that story. It’s one of my favorite stories in the Bible. Because I hear so often that everything rests on our faith…and that if it falters, then God won’t do this or we won’t be blessed, or He won’t be pleased with us.

    It may be true that our lack of faith can disappoint Him, but this story shows me that His love and mercy is greater than my doubts. I love that finally line, “Jesus immediately reached out His hand” to save him.

    I think that is just such a powerful story. I almost mentioned it in the group before even reading your post because it’s always the story I think of when I think about faith and fear.

    1. “this story shows me that His love and mercy is greater than my doubts”….love that, Crystal. So true! I’m not so sure God is “disappointed” in our lack of faith (like I used to think). I think it’s more that He loves to see us step out in faith…like a parent watching their child learn to walk. We realize they won’t get it the first time, but we cheer them on and pick them up when they fall. Thanks for stopping by and leaving some great thoughts!

  5. Nancy,
    How sweet that I would read this post today! I was at my Bible Study this morning (BSF International) and we talked all about this section of Matthew. I am so sad for the struggle that you continue to face and that you had these moments of fear when you didn’t know about the pancreas. Loved your insight about Peter’s fear and Jesus reaching out to pull us out of our fear. I also loved the point in that scripture that Jesus sent his disciples ahead into that storm. They weren’t outside of His Will as they went into those circumstances and His watchful eye was always on them as they strained in the storm. And after Jesus and Peter climbed into the boat and winds died down, the response of His disciples was to worship Jesus. How true that after He sees us through the storms of life, we must stop and worship Him. Praying that you would continue to be able to keep your eyes fixed on Jesus as you walk over your circumstances and feel the winds die down as Jesus climbs into the boat with you.
    Love and Prayers,

    1. Kara, so true that the disciples were EXACTLY where they were supposed to be in the midst of the storm. Thank you for pointing that out and, as always, for your kind and encouraging words! Blessings, friend!

  6. I’ve been dealing with some minor health issues, and in my mind I conjure up all sorts of things, which I am sure are fear based. I know that God is in control. I trust Him with my life, my body, etc. What do I have to fear?

    1. Amen, Barbie! It’s one thing to “know” it; it’s another to “feel” it. Praying your “knower” will dominate your “feeler” as you rest in God’s peace!

  7. Even though Jesus so often commanded, “Fear not,” I still find myself doing just that more than I should. I love how you referenced Peter, walking out in faith, then reaching out in fear. That’s a great lesson for all of us.

    Wonderful news on the PET scan!

    1. Thank you, Dayle! I recently learned that the command “Fear Not” is given more than any other command in Scripture. I think it’s because God knew we needed to hear it most often!

  8. Thank you for encouraging so many and reminding us all…Romans 8:15
    For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”


  9. I just found you today through the Growing Home link up. So glad I did! What a great post! I am struggling with fear right now. And I actually kind of have my whole life. 🙂 But it seems to be getting worse now that I have kids and wear my heart outside of my body 24/7. Thank you for this reminder that it’s okay to fear, but we need to focus on Jesus and have faith! By the way…I am SO glad the lesion turned out to be nothing!

    1. Mandy, I pray you will rest in God’s peace today and not struggle with fear, but step out in faith and hold tightly to Him! Blessings, Nancy

  10. I am so glad that you have a boring pancreas. I always love to read your writing, but this is an especially great post, Nancy – one that we can all identify with since everyone has fear of some sort.

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