The Great Joy Killer


I was sure that I was going to die on my last flight. Not because of turbulence or trouble in the air; it was my fear before I even got on it. Just as I’m sure I’ll probably have a fatal blood clot sometime during this pregnancy and leave my kids motherless. Or something will happen to one of my children while they are young. The love I feel for my kids can leave me imagining the worst at times.

What are these morbid thoughts? Why so glum?

It’s not that I really think these things are going to happen, I’m just using a terrible form of self-protection that we all probably succombe to at times. Have you ever thought to yourself, “Life is just going too good, I know something bad is going to happen?” I’m realizing that more times than I care to admit, I won’t let myself feel joy because:

  • I’m afraid it won’t last.
  • Acknowledging that I’m thankful for things is an invitation for disaster.
  • I don’t want to be vulnerable and truly experience the joys of my life, because “What if they get taken away?”

In her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, Brene Brown states, “Most of us have experienced being on the edge of joy only to be overcome by vulnerability and thrown into fear. Until we can tolerate vulnerability and transform it into gratitude, intense feelings of love will often bring up the fear of loss.”

While she brings up a likely universal problem, the answer is far from enough. Gratitude alone will not sustain me and you from anxiety and fear. It’s the promises of Scripture and the God that makes those promises that will soothe our churning hearts.

I wonder how much of our fear and anxiety has to do with our view of God? Do we see Him as a God who is merciful and provides a plan to give us a hope and a future? Or is He vengeful? Out to get us and make our lives miserable?

The great joy killer is fear.  Fear that if I relinquish control to the God of the universe, He has a life of suffering all lined up for me. “No, God…I got this. I will ensure my life goes as safely, predictably, and perfectly as I need it to. Thanks.” Why is it so hard to trust that He cares way more for me and my family than I do? Enough to sacrifice His own Son?

I’m not a Greek scholar (at all) but from what I can understand the original word for joy had to do with the concept of joy because of grace.

xaírō (“rejoice because of grace”) xará (“joy because of grace”)

So the opposite of living in my fears and trying to control my vulnerability is the freedom to live joyfully because of grace. This joy knows no bounds because it is sure of at least one thing. God’s grace. His undeserved favor and kindness. That He certainly is not “out to get me” because He’s already proved His love a million times over on the cross.

So that’s my renewed focus. When I feel fears and start to imagine terrible scenarios, stop. And just imagine the cross. Of the loving arms stretched out for me. And to rejoice in that wholeheartedly.

He has many promises for us to address our fears, here are just a few…

  • “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
  • “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
  • “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” Psalm 56:3
  • “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7



  1. Thanks for the admission that probably we all share but are afraid to say out loud. Comforting scripture passages…. It’s so good to hear them over and over. We need them to shout out over all the fear and negativity in our lives.