Statues in Downtown Denver

One Way God Comforts Us When We Are OverPowered by Extreme Fear

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These are days of extreme fear. Not only because of COVID-19, however. According to the National Institute of Mental Health nearly 38 million adults and about 62 million adolescents reported experiencing a “specific phobia.” That’s roughly one third of the American population. And the 2019 Chapman University Survey of American Fears reports Americans are more afraid than ever.

For many this level of fear is all encompassing. It’s a din that drowns out all other voices! How can God comfort us when fear appears so overpowering? 

South Bound on Segment 9 of the Colorado Trail

The Parable of the Backpacking Dog

We recently took our year-old English Springer Spaniel puppy, Sir Winston, on his first back packing trip. 13.6 miles of some of the most beautiful and most difficult segments of the Colorado Trail we’ve hiked so far. He enjoyed the new scents and sights, save one. Completely out of his element, he found the other backpackers on the trail terrifying. If the monsters came too close he would leap and snarl and bark! Fear overpowered him. We were stunned our year-old cuddly puppy could be so wild and menacing.

How to train a dog!

But haven’t you found your own cute self in that very position? You’re cruising along in your Subaru accompanying Justin Bieber on the radio when suddenly a tricked-out, monster truck with American flags flapping roars past and cuts in front of you.

“#@$%%&@@#!!!!” you shout, flapping your own finger-flag. Fear and shock work the strangest personality transformations on the best of us.

How does God comfort us when we are overpowered by fear?

Dog hiking the Rockies


Dog training experts say one of the most powerful commands to teach is “Touch.” With a treat in my hand I extend it to Sir Winston saying, “Touch.” Sir Winston loves this. I love it too! I can say, “Touch” while he’s in another room and he’ll scoot in and nudge my hand with his cold, wet nose expecting to receive from me. It draws his attention to me and mine to him. We connect.

I’ve learned this is not a command to get him to obey so much as a word combined with gentle physical contact that fosters trust and intimacy between us.

When we were on the trail and he lost his mind to fear over the strange, massive monster approaching, I’d say, “Touch” and extend my hand. If he was really gone I had to touch his nose myself and say it over and over. Sometimes I’d have to hold him close and tight. Eventually though, his head vibrating with fear and confusion, he would nudge my hand and gobble the treat. Then I’d do it again and eventually he’d calm down. In that moment he knows he’s loved and safe. We’re hoping we’ll get to the point where we can calm him before and that eventually he’ll not be afraid at all.

Dog hiking Segment 9

Be Not Afraid

God knows the same truth about us. In the time of Isaiah, the people’s world was coming apart. Their king of fifty-one years had died. Powerful nations threatened to annihilate them. Contradictory voices shouted out about their gods, their solutions, their theories. Fear alone reigned!     

In the midst of it all God commanded, “Fear not!” But it was not so much a command as a call for renewed intimacy with their God.  

God also speaks this “command” in the depth of our fear and frenzy.  

A dog and his tent

“Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.” (Isaiah 41:10 The Message) 

“Touch,” God says and I melt into his strength. I feel his presence like slipping into a warm house on a cold February night. I turn my gaze to God and away from the monster on the trail. I feel God’s touch and hear, “I am with you.”

I was not in the market for a dog. They are a lot of work. We got Sir Winston for The Redheaded-Wildflower. But he has stolen my heart. I love him more than I ever thought I could.

Porcupine lakes

Don’t sell yourself or God short either. Our relationship with God can be more than that of Master and servant, Strong Arm and Skinny Kid. Yes, we need God. God is Alpha and Omega, Omniscient, Omnipresent, Omnipotent and all that. But God enjoys being close to us and desires intimacy with us. God will extend his hand and say, “Touch.” God will hunker down on the trail and enfold us in his care because God loves us!

Please forward this blog to someone you know who is being overpowered by fear. And let me know when you’ve heard God say, “Touch.”

9 thoughts on “One Way God Comforts Us When We Are OverPowered by Extreme Fear”

  1. Georgie Ann KETTIG

    nice!,… I often think that there is something about “dogs and God” that demonstrates or reveals a mystery to us humans,… but I never ponder on it long,… this has gotten about as close to it, as anything else I have ever imagined!,… (-:

      1. Georgie Ann KETTIG

        Hi, Eugene ~ my mother (who was a super conscientious “only child”) loved dogs, and had them as household pets (more like “family members”), and they were beagles (love-able, but fairly un-trainable), two-at-a-time, twice, around 14 years each set,… so, we got very used to them,… I ended up living on some farms (with dairy/sheep) for extended periods, when my own children were young, and loved all the animals, including cats and dogs (and birds and turtles and pet mice, etc), which I/we cared for personally,… it was totally “great while it lasted”, but I went on to other things that didn’t include “pets”, except for a perennial goldfish (replaced many times, until finally, it wasn’t),… I’ve become an afficianado (sp?) of “peace and quiet”, and am happy for those around me who love and walk their dogs, but sometimes I just say “I’m my own dog now” ~ it’s too hard to take care of all the things I need to do, without adding another living and dependent creature to the 24/7 regime,… but I’m happy, just like this,… God’s Creation is utterly fascinating ~ last night a tiny toad managed to visit me, sneaking in an open door after some rain ~ he was so perky and adorable, but I was glad to get him back out, where he belonged,… “Life” seems to be a drama that unfolds,… I crave the “underlying peacefulness” ~ the more, the better ~ and lots of time for prayer and reflection,… as a musician, I’m happy to be able to follow where that leads, on this continuum that links the things that have come before, with what is now, and what will be,… leaving many things as relatively “unsolved mysteries”, such as “dogs and God and humans” ~ even though I know that “there’s something there”,… having pets, including some very precious dogs, is definitely part of the lives of my children and grandchildren, and it makes me feel very happy,… maybe they are “angelic”,… (-:

        1. Fun story including the toad one! Could Jesus have said, “Today had enough worries of its own. Why add a pet to that?” Take care.

          1. Georgie Ann KETTIG

            (apparently I messed up as to where my last comment was placed), but I wanted to add that it seems to me that our “highest/(deepest) level” connection and relationship with God, that I was alluding to, comes to us in a very personally intimate way, including even emotionally,… and it is somehow along those deeply intimate and affirming (personal self-worth) lines, that I think our shared devotion and respect with our doggie “friends” is communicating with us also,… “the world” has so much “bad news” to offer, but our doggie friendship can seem to be insulated from that wave-length, especially when we’re “together”,…

            maybe I’ve thought about this enough, for the time being,… ya think?,…

  2. Janet Yancey

    Your blog is reassuring. The photography almost outshines it!

  3. Georgie Ann KETTIG

    yes, true,… it occurs to me that “Life is also an opportunity”,… and what we experience/receive from it, depends very much upon what we “make of it”,… so, dogs are an opportunity for us to “connect” with their “eagerness and readiness (and desire)” to become connected with us, and it is easy to experience a palpable “faithfulness, acceptance and love” relationship with them, which often becomes truly mutual devotion,… and even “’til death do us part”,… through our tangible, physical selves, we connect with this joining “something”, this willing bond, this intangible glue, that enhances and invigorates our “now moments”, in ways that make us feel stronger, important/significant, etc,… and I think it could be construed as a message to us “poor vulnerable humans” ~ during our (not necessarily well-understood) exile here “on earth” ~ that “the invisible God Creator” loves us just as powerfully and strongly, eagerly and indelibly, as do our “doggie pals,” whom He has given us,… maybe dogs can become like “His personal Valentines” to us ~ hinting of an even stronger and more durable “love and significance” that is our intended and promised destiny,…

    certainly, I have “learned” all these things from “dogs and life,” from childhood onwards,… it seems that an actual personal relationship/connection with a dog is the “top tier” experience, in this way,… I’m also aware of all the angst that happens with “animal lovers” who also suffer so greatly over all the sad conditions and lack of perfect homes for so many of them,… trying to encompass and “be responsible” for the expanded needs that one finds during “life on earth”, seems to be an ongoing “part of this picture”, and is a definite “cross to bear”, whether we speak of “innocent” animals or humans,…

    perhaps the personal devotion that God calls us to have with Himself (as a pretty much “top priority”), also validates that our special “loves” with those He has given us (whether human form, doggie form, or whatever else), is also pretty much “high level” stuff,… it is sad that there is so much sadness mixed in with “life (as we find it) on earth”, but I think God calls us to “choose the best”, and to nourish ourselves “with Himself”,… from that standpoint, we can proceed to “do the best we can” with everything else,… I am thankful to “love Him”, and leave the oversight of the Universe in His very capable hands,…

    p.s.: btw, the “reason” my mother kept two beagles at a time, was so they would “never be lonely”,… (-:

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