By Tonya Nevarez
Webster defines fear as an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause harm. This harm can be physical, emotional, or psychological. A term we encounter more often these days is anxiety. Anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness or unease about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.
Fear and anxiety feel the same, but they are different. Fear is an emotional reaction to a specific or real danger, while anxiety is a reaction to our emotions. The Bible tells us to not to give into either. “Fear not.” “Be anxious for nothing.” I know fear and anxiety are not interchangeable terms, but for simplicity’s sake, today I am gonna lump them together.
Think about some things you personally fear: whether it be terrorism, mass shootings, government, public speaking, diseases, natural disasters, deadly animals, spiders… Fear grabs your attention. It gets us ready to fight or to flee. A healthy amount of fear can keep us from harm. God did create this emotion, so it is reasonable to believe it serves a purpose, the problem is when we get consumed by it, wallow in it. Too much can have a powerful effect on our thinking, our decisions, and our actions. We have a choice of what we do with fear that arises. If there wasn’t a choice the Bible wouldn’t say over 300 times, in one form or another, to fear not.
Lyrics in a song by Chris Tomlin.
“Father of kindness, you have poured out grace,
You have brought me out of darkness, You have filled me with peace.
Giver of mercy, You’re my help in time of need.
Lord, I can’t help but sing.
Faithful, You are. Faithful, forever You will be.
Faithful, You are. All Your promises are yes and amen…
I will rest in Your promises.
My confidence is Your faithfulness.
You probably noticed that the song didn’t even mention fear, but the solution to fear jumps out: God is faithful and we can rest in His promises.
2 Cor. 1:20 “For all God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding ‘yes!’ and through Christ our ‘amen’ (which means ‘yes’) ascends to God for His glory. It goes on to say, “It is God who enables us to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, and He has identified us as His own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything He has promised us.”
All God’s Old Testament promises are fulfilled by Jesus. There are many, so I’m gonna name just a few.
As we grow in our faith to believe these promises, we can increase our ability to turn our worries over to God.
1- God is always with us. Isaiah 41:10, “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”
Ø God is with us in our struggles.
I know at times it seems like He is distant or has given up on you, but I guarantee He hasn’t.
No matter what you feel, have faith that He is always with you.
Jesus reaffirmed this promise in Matthew by assuring His people, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
2- All of God’s ways are good. Deut 32:4, “He is the rock, His deeds are perfect. Everything He does is just and fair.”
Ø Something I repeat to myself when I am struggling is: “God is good and He loves me.”
3- God has your back. Ex 14:14, “The lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”
4- Life is abundant in Him. Proverbs 8:35, “For whoever finds ME finds life and receives favor from the Lord.”
Ø True life is found in God and God alone. Not in your hobbies, not in your job or even your family. Commit to Him and He will give you life more abundant.
Ironically, here we are talking about abundant life during a fear study. The scripture is full of these types of ironies. For example, James 1:2, “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials”.
Or the way the NLT puts it, “when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.”
James tells us how to face hard times that are sure to come. We are to face trials and consider it good because they are tools which can grow us up spiritually.
1 Peter 1:7, “These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold – though your faith is far more precious than mere gold.”
The trials that James 1:2 mentions refer to temptations that came from the outside.
We have no control over the things coming at us.
The enemy uses these temptations hoping to cause us to fall, BUT God uses them to strengthen us.
How should we react to these daily trials?
Ø We should seek God humbly.
2 Chronicles 33:11-13 NLT “So the LORD sent the commanders of the Assyrian armies, and they took Manasseh prisoner. They put a ring through his nose, bound him in bronze chains, and led him away to Babylon. But while in deep distress, Manasseh sought the LORD his God and sincerely humbled himself before the God of his ancestors. And when he prayed, the LORD listened to him and was moved by his request. So the LORD brought Manasseh back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh finally realized that the LORD alone is God!”
Ø We should get into God’s word and know it.
Matt 4:3-11 tells us how when Jesus was a low point in the wilderness Satan came to tempt Him and Jesus combat all 3 temptations by quoting scripture. Then Satan went away.
Ø We should live in God’s strength and protection.
Eph 6:11-13,“Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.”
Ø We should draw close to God.
James 4:7-8, “So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.”
Listen to lyrics of I BELONG TO JESUS.
“You are with me, Father You’re for me
Fear will never conquer me
Oh, I belong to Jesus
I’m never alone, I’m never abandoned
Oh, fear You’ll never conquer me
I belong to Jesus
You’re my shepherd, You’re my keeper
My provider, My protector
You surround me, You’re in every step I take
I believe You’re the goodness, You’re the constant
You’re my first love and my future.
To belong is to feel accepted, to feel secure. As humans our greatest desire is to know and to be known,
to love and be loved and to feel confident that those who love us will be there for us through joys and trouble. This kind of security and belonging should come first and foremost from Jesus. Wasn’t it Tauren Wells who sang:
I'm fully known and loved by You
You won't let go, no matter what I do
And it's not one or the other
It's hard truth and ridiculous grace
To be known, fully known, and loved by You
The saying: “Faith over Fear” sounds cliché, but it’s the key.
We must choose daily to focus on our Faith in God rather than the fears we experience.
Faith is a complete trust or confidence in someone or something.
Our faith is in God, in Christ alone.
Psalm 56:3-4, “When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, in God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me?”
George mentioned this last Sunday that to believe in God is not a passe thing, but a true commitment, a true relationship. Well, the same goes for faith. It’s not a passe thing like a child having faith that Santa will bring presents on Christmas morning. It is life changing. It is clinging to the only thing that can save you. In my mind I picture me dangling off the side of a cliff and all I can grab is Jesus. You better bet that I am gonna cling to Him with all I got. To me that is trust, that is faith.
Choosing faith over fear is when you are swamped by trials, overwhelmed by emotions, or trembling with fear, BUT still make the choice to trust God and His promises regardless.
Choosing faith trades worldly fear for a godly fear.
When the Bible refers to the “fear of the Lord,” it means having a deep respect, reverence and awe for God’s power and authority, not outright terror.
Rather than causing someone to be afraid of God,
a proper “fear of the Lord” leads one to love Him.
This same meaning is applied to the word fear in Romans 8:15, “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’”
So, rather than a paralyzing terror, the positive fear of the Lord taught in the Bible is a key element in change. It helps us have a proper, humble perspective of ourselves in relation to our awesome God
it helps us in times of temptation when we need to remember the serious consequences of disobeying God; and it motivates us to become more like our loving Creator.
I’m gonna leave you with a promise Jesus left us with.
John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”