I had a young woman show up at my doorstep who was in a fear lockdown. As Laurie approached the porch, there was no moment of recognition; and though we knew each other, she walked as if she was led captive by some unseen hand. One of the girls from our college Bible study, who had been working with her, decided it was time to bring her over. I looked for the young woman I had once known. Now she had a deeply tormented stare that brought back memories to me…
She had all the emotions of a zombie and I directed her through the back into the front room. She sat on the couch, gnarled up like she was trying to disappear into the couch. Two of our college Bible students were in the room but no one said anything as I began to work with her. It’s hard to explain how a person can wear such torment on their body. It’s even harder to explain how their youthful countenance takes on added years, suddenly and instantly old.
I tried to get her to open up. There she sat locked in her world of pain, not moving, not responding. A pain no one else could feel but her, you could see the visual imprint it left on her entire being.
Without warning like the erupting of a volcano, she unleashed a torrent of emotion from her core. Cries of helplessness and anger from the core of herself, “I have been begging God to set me free. Why isn’t it working?” Over and over she repeated this mantra of torment. “God has left me. He isn’t helping me.” She whimpered that God had forsaken her and this hopeless state was proof of His departure. She said that her brain wouldn’t work, her thinking became erratic and she thought for sure she was losing her mind--and her job.
Years ago she had deliverance from a tormenting dream of suicide. Tormenting thoughts began to plague her in the day. When her brother came home one evening, she had a knife in her hand. He prayed for her until she was dramatically delivered. After that, her life filled with peace and I had watched her stay free for over 10 years. I knew she had experienced how much the Lord loved her by what He had done for her. She began regularly attending church, studied the Scriptures and loved serving God, yet, now you wouldn’t know it. Completely paralyzed with fear, she said she had been like this for a week. You would never have known that she had been a Bible-believing, peace-filled Christian who shared her faith regularly. After years of being free, something had snapped. She knew the Word but was petrified that it was not working. She was panicked that it had all come back and the torment was worse than before. It is our job to keep our deliverance, but now that was the task I had in front of me to help her do this.
Lately, she had begun to slip out of fellowship with believers and wasn’t actively involved in church and lost her joy. She had found no place where she gave of her talents or time. She pulled away from being involved in a new fellowship her brother had begun which previously had been exciting to her. At the same time she had been floundering in her spiritual life, she began risking some new things with her job situation, stretching out of her personal comfort zone.
Excited by a dramatic personal healing from something incurable, abruptly she made a renewed commitment to get involved in her brother’s new church and was making baby steps toward growing again—immediately the bottom fell out! Not aware of these new developments, I still wasn’t expecting her to be in this kind of a mental and emotional state.
Watching her pull at her hair, repeating again and again then she would beg God for hours and He did nothing to help her. I asked her to repeat after me, “God has not given me this spirit of fear.” (2 Timothy 1:7) I kept encouraging her to say it with me—“God has not given me this spirit of fear.” But, even though she was trying, she could not get those words out of her mouth. She was immobile except when she would have moments of burying her head and at best, a bare whisper came out.
I remembered back when I had been in that kind of torment. I had dealt with that same kind of fear and remembered how overpowering it felt. I had felt that nothing would lift it and that nothing ever could. I knew what she was going through.
I explained to her, “There is a difference between praying and using your authority. When you pray, you ask God for help, and the help He has given us is authority over fear. It must come out of your mouth.” This is a necessary part of “after” care after initially experiencing freedom and vital in our daily walk.
She was adamant that she didn’t have the strength or stamina to do it. I told her that instead of begging and pleading with God, I wanted her to open her mouth and repeat after me, “God has not given me a spirit of fear, but power, love and a sound mind.” Every time she tried to say those words, she choked trying to get them to come out. She could say her protests but was clamped like a vice grip when it came to repeating the scripture.
And this is the place that most people lose the battle—right here at this juncture. They just don’t have the personal inner strength it takes to make the Word come out of their mouth. They are so wrapped up with what they are feeling when something comes against them, they don’t muster up what it takes to make the Word come out of their mouth. They feel overwhelmed, powerless, and confused with tormenting thoughts. I truly don’t know how I did this years ago in my 20s since I had no one to coach me, but I would make myself say what the Word said until the torment lifted. When I was so oppressed in that dark place, it finally dawned on me that I was going to have to speak what I believed. I remembered how hard it was to open my mouth and say it loud enough where my ears could hear it. I looked at the young woman in front of me and remembered when I was in that very same spot of continuous torment.
You have to have the will to do what the Scripture says to do even when you don’t feel like it—when it is the last thing in the world you want to do—even if it feels like it is pulling flesh off your bones to speak the Word and you have to do it until you finally succeed in exchanging out every tormenting thought for a promise from God’s Word.
“Since I can first remember, I have always had a sensation of not having a desire to live.“ Like a child pleading, but almost defiantly she continued, “This time, I’ve hurt myself and I’ve been in the ER” as she rolled up her sleeves to show me the marks, her voice breaking in sobs. She spoke it as if to make me let up and not make her speak the words, as if she was too bad a case and beyond God’s care. It wasn’t time to give up now, I pressed her forward: “A lot of people have… you have already asked the Lord to forgive you.” I called her name and just gently and consistently worked with her to get the words out. I knew she had to get the right words coming out of her own mouth in spite of the fact that heavy depression and torment does everything in his power to make it seem like an impossibility. Interestingly, more often than not, the same throat pours forth like a faucet turned wide open when spilling out misery. It is odd how torment causes us to not have the strength to speak when we ought, and yet gush out the anguish.
Those negative fear thoughts feel so overpowering and overwhelming that you don’t have the will to do what you have to do. You feel you can’t go on. That is exactly what the enemy wants. It is right here, where the secret lies, whether you get well or not. In Laurie’s case, it was life or death: she was giving in to letting go of the will to live, and moving toward more desperate actions.
I explained what I was doing, “God has done all that He is going to do for us to be free. He did it on the cross. When He said, “It is finished,” then the debt was paid. Now it is our turn. We have something to do!”
When I went through the sheer agony of debilitating waves and waves of negative thoughts, I had no one helping me. My thoughts were crazy and I knew it, but I didn’t know what to do. People have asked me and I have asked myself: what made me pull out of this spiraling down and down when I had no one coaching me—speaking truth to me, telling me what verse to quote… I remember being all by myself and I had had enough—enough years of torment to decide I could not go another day. What happens next is where most people fail: you have to find that switch, that will, that strength, that determination to quit feeling sorry for yourself, begging God to do it for you, and at the same time blaming Him for not doing it. When it feels like you can’t, you have to. The Word of God has to come out of your mouth.
It seemed like it took forever before the words barely started coming from her mouth, and as if this effort caused her great pain. But, when she began to come out of the fog over her brain, you could see a glimmer of the real person. And as she stumbled through each portion of the verse and her strength was returning, she used the strength to voice all the thoughts about the future which nagged on her. One at a time I worked to keep her staying focused.
“I am afraid he will come back!” I saw this one coming. “Oh, you can rest assured, he will come back and you will be ready for him. The day I got free was the day I realized I had to fight. God wasn’t going to do it for me. David had to kill Goliath. David didn’t pray and ask God to do it for him. God has done all He is going to do. When He said, It is finished, it was done.” I reminded her that now it was up to her to grab hold of her promises. This isn’t something God is going to do for you. You have to stick with the Word and center in on taking the fear out until you feel it leave. You cannot afford to let those fear thoughts take you on a detour. Her head was up. She was now listening. Laurie’s face showed her youth again.
Finally, after she began to repeat the verse, the power of the Word of God began to go inside where the torment was and drive it out. Fear was leaving, and power was going inside of her as she heard with her own ears—her mouth saying the Word of God rather than what she felt. The torment was leaving and the love of God was coming in and dealing with those crazy thoughts she had in her mind. And as her mouth repeated what God said in His Word about having a sound mind, she could feel strength coming into her mind and body with her own ears hearing the word. Laurie could feel authority suddenly in her that she had not known or utilized before.
Before it was over, her mind and strength were back. She looked like she had gone through the wringer but deep in her face, I could see the peace and strength had returned. What no man can do for us, the Word of God can.
What has to come out of you is a very bold confident declaration that God has not given me a spirit of fear. You will walk out of fear and mental torment—you will walk out of depression. Many have to do it over and over—don’t let fear debilitate you.
It took about an hour and a half before she was back to her right mind. There are so many treatments used on people in this state that Laurie was in. Costly, long-term, and many times just something so we are able to cope with the torment. Yet, it had honestly been so simple, when you think about it. God means it when He said he has delivered us from fear. Talk about the power of God’s Word—it took her repeating only one scripture to pull her out of this torment.
The highlight of this week was when I saw her two days later. It was to my great joy that she was excited to see me and that she had held the ground we gained that night with the Word of God. She quit begging and started using her authority. Peace looked so good on her! She later texted me, "I'm not saying it's easy, but I'm happier in the combat zone that in my comfort zone because I find my worth in Christ." Wow! Laurie had already shared her story with someone at work who appreciated how open she was about this. “Laurie, I have not been to church in years. I have a dark side that I feel like no one will talk to me about. Your story has really touched me. I think I will try church again.” Laurie’s joy was bubbling over and she wanted one of my books to give to her. Just two days ago, Laurie’s future seemed uncertain because the fear was escalating.
Fear is rampant in our society, affecting rich and poor, young and old. It took just one verse! And using the authority over fear we have been given as believers.