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Counseling Fearful Women

Truth In Love 402

How can we counsel and help women who struggle with the life-dominating sin of fear and anxiety?

Feb 20, 2023

Dale Johnson: This week on the podcast I have with me, Susan Heck. She was married for 46 years to her pastor and friend, he has since been promoted to glory for over a year now, and Susan’s been certified with ACBC for 20 years, and she enjoys working with women throughout the US and the world. She loves to minister her gift of teaching, has written 16 expository studies for women along with several counseling and discipleship helps. Susan’s thankful to be able to travel and speaking, continues to minister at the church where her husband founded this particular church. Now, Susan, I do want to ask you. First of all, welcome. I’m looking forward to our time talking about this, this issue of worry and fear, but we’ve talked several times in the past, and I’ve never asked you about this, your 16 expository studies, where can ladies find those studies? Is it out? Is it available? 

Susan Heck: Sure. They can go to Amazon. They can go to CBD. A lot of the places sell them. My website; Focus Publishing publishes my books. So, they can go to focus publishing as well. 

Dale Johnson: Perfect. That’s great. Now, let’s jump right into this because I think this is a really important topic. We have spoken in the recent past on the issues surrounding ladies and life-dominating issues. One of those certainly being fear. I wanted us to nail down and drill down a little bit further on this because the culture is really set up right now to just breed fear within us. And that’s a difficulty that we struggle with, all of us in humanity. But how serious do you think this is for women today? 

Susan Heck: I think it’s very serious, and I think it’s becoming more of a concern, a life-dominating sin, as we’ve talked about in the past. And again, I believe that it’s due to not just the pandemic but also worldwide things like the Russian-Ukraine and the media again just feeds that to all of us. But women especially, I think are more prone to fear than men are, and they worry about financial future, they worry about their children, they worry about their marriage, and the list goes on and on of all the things that caused them to be fearful. And so I think it’s becoming more of a problem. I’ve noticed it in my own counseling through the last few decades that fear is becoming more common among women than, say, used to be.

Dale Johnson: So, let’s dial down on that because you mentioned a few of these reasons, but what are some of those reasons that you think we’re seeing an increase? I mean, I might would even add, you know, ideas of feminism and the fruit of feminism coming to reality where the nuclear family is being upended. We’re seeing ladies, to a great degree, feel insecure. I mean, men being raised the way that they are often just incompetent in leadership and ability. And I think that breeds insecurity for ladies. So, we’re talking on a, on a global scale as you mentioned, but even issues that are very close to home as young ladies are growing up and they’re seeing, you know, the call for ladies to do this and to do these things, I think it’s starting to breed for your, to some degree. Give me some of those reasons as you think about it more specifically.

Susan Heck: Okay. One would be fear of man. I’ve noticed that a lot of women are compromising in the area of parenting, in the area of their marriage, in the area, and even their personal walk with the Lord because they fear that they’re not going to be accepted among their peers and their culture. And so, they’ve compromised, which is causing them to be fearful because they have this kind of going like James says, is double-mindedness, they know the right thing to do, but they’re not doing it because of the peer pressure. And so there is some fear there. Fear of God, which they shouldn’t have if they’re pleasing man over God. And so, I see that quite a bit.

Also, I’ve had a lot of women through covid-19 that have come out of the Word of Faith, New Apostolic Reformation movement, and they’re fearful about becoming involved in a good, solid biblical church because they don’t trust people, they have been duped so to speak by all these false teachers, and so, they’re coming now into solid biblical teaching, but there’s a fear of man, there’s a lack of trust, and I see this is again just bread by our culture, social media I think has bred some of this, but again is what we talked about before, I think that it’s so imperative to be in a good solid biblical church and be mentored or counseled or something by someone else who can guide and help you.

Dale Johnson: Yeah, that’s great. Those are some of the reasons. Now, I want to talk about root causes, and we’re going to use this idea of anxiety and fear somewhat interchangeably and biblically. I hope you’re tracking with this if you’re listening, the connection between a sinful fear that we have; we’re certainly created to fear God, but a sinful fear that we have that certainly breeds anxiety. And so, what is the root cause of anxiety and fear? 

Susan Heck: Well, I think the root cause of it is we don’t trust God, you know, even when the army was coming against Jehoshaphat and said, he feared, Jehoshaphat who was a king feared. But then it said, he set himself to seek the Lord. And Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount says, don’t worry about anything, and he gives eight reasons why we should worship him over being worried, and he said, this is what pagans do. This is what Gentiles do. My children don’t worry; instead, my children seek first my kingdom and my righteousness, and then everything will be taken care of. And so, I think that the common cause, the root cause, is lack of trusting God. We don’t trust God. We don’t believe that God is Sovereign. We don’t believe He’s the blessed Controller and Ruler of every event and every circumstance in our life. And if we did, we wouldn’t fear. I honestly believe, Dale, if women knew the God of the Bible, they would not be afraid. But they don’t study who God is, who is this God that we claim to love and to worship, and so, I want them to know the God of the Bible. Now, the way they’re going to know that is to get into the Scriptures and find out who He is, and He’s very trustworthy. So, He’s a good God. 

Dale Johnson: Yeah. And honestly, like, all of us, to some degree, struggle with these elements. I think that’s a part of our finiteness where, you know, where we’re not seeing God clearly, we don’t understand him sometimes fully, sometimes circumstances distract our mind from who we know God to be. We’ve read about these truths in His word, but it certainly does distract us from the realities of who He is, and we have a tendency to be deceived, will be lured, and enticed to be afraid in these ways. Now, I want us to think about this because anxiety certainly or this lack of fear of the Lord fear, among other things, fearing man, as you’ve mentioned as reasons or causes, it can contribute to other sins in our life as well. So I want you to make the connection, and this will be helpful for our counselors to some degree as well as you see some sort of a cocktail of emotions, a cocktail of expressions that are often rooted with anxiety or connected to anxiety. So, what are some of the other sins that anxiety can cause? 

Susan Heck: Well, it’s interesting you ask me that because I had my reading this year through the Scriptures, and I noticed that people that were afraid, they lied. Sarah, she lied. And she denied that she had laughed, you know, and I’ve been noticing just how many times men and women lied because they were afraid, and so, definitely lying comes with fear, and then I think making poor decisions, making unwise decisions, ungodly decisions come with fear. So I think you have lying, fear, it can lead to even sometimes means of alcohol or psychotropic drugs to numb your fear instead of trusting God and casting your cares upon Him, throwing on Him because He cares for you. He’s concerned for you. I think that we could go through probably 30 sins that might come along with being fearful, but lying I think is one and definitely seeking other means, other things for comfort to dull your conscience and dull the fear that you feel.

Dale Johnson: Yeah, and I think that’s quite common to us as humanity. And so, now we’ve exposed some of the ideas that we struggle with as people, particularly ladies as you’re talking to, what are some of the ways in which we can help people to overcome fear and anxiety? And this is a beauty of the Word is where the Word exposes us, but it never leaves us just exposed. There is Grace. There is forgiveness. There is a way to overcome what God exposes in our hearts that are destroying us so that he can begin to restore. So, talk about some of the ways that we can overcome fear and anxiety. 

Susan Heck: Well, one of the things I do is definitely get women in the Scriptures. Memorizing Scripture and reading massive amounts of Scripture, but also trusting God by Jerry Bridges, is a classic, and I have used that with many, many women who struggle with fear and anxiety. I found it to be very helpful in helping them overcome fear and also just memorizing Scripture that has to do with being fearful; I think has helped them to put off and put on, learning, as we’ve talked before, about just knowing who God is, and trusting Him and that He is sovereignly ruling over every event at their life and learning to be content, learning to be at rest, regardless of what’s going on around them.

And the worst thing that can happen is death, and I think, well, that’s the best. So why are we fearful of anything? I remember when I first became a believer, I was terrified of so many things, and one of my mentors very wisely said, “Susan, I want you to look up every verse in the Bible that has to do with fear.” And you know what I found out, Dale, I’m not to fear anybody but God, and there was one command to fear my parents. And you know, that really pricked my heart, that I was living in this constant state of fear that was paralyzing me. And so, I think a wise counselor will have their students say, you know, that was a great assignment my mentor gave me, and that took me a while to look up, and I had to bring it back to her. And but boy, I tell you, the Lord, use that to convict me that I was living in sin and I was fearing everything but God, so that really helped me to overcome many of my life-dominating sins that were pertaining to fear when I was a younger Christian. 

Dale Johnson: And I love the way that the Scriptures do that. Where, yes, they’ll expose us, they’ll make our heart very vulnerable in exposing what’s at the root of some of these problems, but it never leaves us here at always drives us toward hope. But I’ll tell you one thing that’s not doing that, and that’s the culture. When we look at the backdrop of the culture that we live in, it’s almost like fuel on the fire of our fear and anxiety. It’s almost like it’s infusing shots of anxiety and fear. And so it boils down to are we going to trust ourselves into the narrative of the culture? You know, the way things are on the earth. Are we going to think about this from the Scripture? I want you to talk for just a second about how the culture hinders or helps women in this process of dealing with anxiety and fear. 

Susan Heck: Well, I don’t think they help very much, to be quite frank. I don’t see the culture helping; I see the culture helping is through their means which are worldly psychology psychotropic drugs. I think that’s, you know, just coping mechanism, behavior modification, that kind of thing. That’s how the world tries to help believers and unbelievers with fear. I do believe the church has been a solace for many people, especially during the pandemic, and there’s a haven there as we gather with the body of believers. And we gain strength from those around us who have gone through the crucibles of life. And we watch that they went through that in peace, not being at unrest or angry with God. So I think the church itself, the body of Christ, the temple is the place to be for; I think the church has offered a lot for that. Sound biblical churches has been a great way of helping others to overcome fear and anxiety, and as we’ve talked about before, one-on-one discipline counseling is very helpful in that. So, I think that’s aided in helping women overcome fear and being consistent as a counselor, discipler, making sure that you’re meeting regularly. I think, especially with women that are paralyzed by fear, I think you need to meet often with them, check on them, text them, email them, and call them. Let them know you’re praying for them, and that’s very important not to let them go, so to speak too quickly. 

Dale Johnson: I think one of the things that I am overwhelmed by in this discussion is the breadth of this problem. It shouldn’t be shocking to us. We’re sinful people, but the way in which we see, fear, and anxiety gripping us is tremendous, and it’s grievous that we struggle with it to the degree that we do, but at the same time, I love the way that you turn this last point into describing the beauty of the church, and the faithfulness of the church, and we have to see this as an opportunity. We believe that we have true hope as we think about the Word of God and the salvation that He provides, and the trustworthiness that He gives us in these very great promises that he has given to us and for the church to proclaim these things. And as you mentioned, not just to proclaim from the pulpit, but to now walk alongside, to help people to apply these in the daily aspects of their life, down to the patterns of thinking that they have, this could have radical transformation. What an opportunity for the church to be involved, what an opportunity for ladies to get involved in the lives of other ladies to help them walk in this process. And this is where the battle lies.

And I’m so grateful that you’re engaging in this. You’re encouraging other ladies to engage in this and ultimately encouraging the church to seize this opportunity to use the powerful sword that the Lord has given us as help and hope with these very difficult problems. Susan, thank you so much for this together. 

Susan Heck: Thank you, Dale, so much.

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