Biblical accounts of fear and anxiety fascinate me. I feel fear and anxiety on a fairly regular basis. Seeing how others either dealt with or conquered that fear (or not) is certainly interesting.
For example, while relating his horrific misfortunes, Job recounted, “For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me.” And at the Savior’s crucifixion, “the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.”
And Joseph Smith, among others, felt great anxiety. “So, in accordance with this, my determination to ask of God, I retired to the woods to make the attempt. It was on the morning of a beautiful, clear day, early in the spring of eighteen hundred and twenty. It was the first time in my life that I had made such an attempt, for amidst all my anxieties I had never as yet made the attempt to pray vocally.”
Esther’s courage made her a celebrated heroine. As she agreed to approach King Ahasuerus in peril for her own life, she declared, “If I perish, I perish.”
This short snapshot from additional records of the Book of Esther offer further insight into her internal struggle with deathly anxiety and fear.
And Esther the queen, seized with deathly anxiety, fled to the Lord; she took off her splendid apparel and put on the garments of distress and mourning, and instead of costly perfumes she covered her head with ashes and dung, and she utterly humbled her body, and every part that she loved to adorn she covered with her tangled hair.
And she prayed to the Lord God of Israel, and said: Lord, thou only art our King; help me, who am alone and have no helper but thee, for my danger is in my hand.
Ever since I was born I have heard in the tribe of my family that thou, O Lord, didst take Israel out of all the nations, and our fathers from among all their ancestors, for an everlasting inheritance, and that thou didst do for them all that thou didst promise.
And now we have sinned before thee, and thou hast given us into the hands of our enemies, because we glorified their gods. Thou art righteous, O Lord!
And now they are not satisfied that we are in bitter slavery, but they have covenanted with their idols to abolish what thy mouth has ordained and to destroy thy inheritance, to stop the mouths of those who praise thee and to quench thy altar and the glory of thy house, to open the mouths of the nations for the praise of vain idols, and to magnify for ever a mortal king.
O Lord, do not surrender thy scepter to what has no being; and do not let them mock at our downfall; but turn their plan against themselves, and make an example of the man who began this against us.
Remember, O Lord; make thyself known in this time of our affliction, and give me courage, O King of the gods and Master of all dominion!
Put eloquent speech in my mouth before the lion, and turn his heart to hate the man who is fighting against us, so that there may be an end of him and those who agree with him.
But save us by thy hand, and help me, who am alone and have no helper but thee, O Lord.
Thou hast knowledge of all things; and thou knowest that I hate the splendor of the wicked and abhor the bed of the uncircumcised and of any alien.
Thou knowest my necessity — that I abhor the sign of my proud position, which is upon my head on the days when I appear in public. I abhor it like a menstruous rag, and I do not wear it on the days when I am at leisure.
And thy servant has not eaten at Haman’s table, and I have not honored the king’s feast or drunk the wine of the libations.
Thy servant has had no joy since the day that I was brought here until now, except in thee, O Lord God of Abraham.
O God, whose might is over all, hear the voice of the despairing, and save us from the hands of evildoers. And save me from my fear!
My two favorite lines are: “And Esther the queen, seized with deathly anxiety, fled to the Lord….” and “O God, whose might is over all, hear the voice of the despairing, and save us from the hands of evildoers. And save me from my fear!”
Esther acknowledged both her fear and anxiety. She took them to the Lord and dropped them at His feet. She fled to the Lord, knowing His invitation to “Come” is ever-ready. She knew Him well enough to know that not only did the Lord offer peace, but He could save her from her fear.
His promise is still in force today! Do you flee to the Lord? Has He saved you?