I could make a very long list if I jumped on that train. I started to list what frightens me most, but it was too scary. Seriously. My goal today is to help you conquer fear, not give in to it.
So let’s acknowledge, in a general sense, that there are aspects of this world that frighten the daylights out of us. Fear is a natural response. We become afraid when someone or something we care about is threatened.
You need to know two things about fear:
1. Fear, unbridled, can make us powerless.
2. Fear, channeled, can make us powerful.
God gave fear to protect us.
Healthy fear is good and necessary. We fear death, so we don’t jump off mountains, drive recklessly, or pick fights with gang members. We fear disease, so we exercise regularly, take vitamins, and use sunscreen. We fear financial ruin, so we save regularly, work diligently, and invest wisely.
Unbridled fear, however, can become a vicious captor. It locks us in a prison of our own vulnerabilities and throws away the key. It steals the sunshine from our days and the sleep from our nights. Fear knows we are most vulnerable when the house is quiet and the world is dark, so it waits beside our bed to whisper custom-designed what ifs into our trembling ears.
But while God has given us the ability to feel fear, he hasn’t given us a spirit of fear. Every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father, and unbridled fear is not a good and perfect gift. Unrestrained, it renders us powerless, but channeled, it can make us powerful.
It depends on what we do with it.
Like the warning bells at a railroad crossing, fear can alert us to danger so we can take appropriate action to protect ourselves and those we love. It can also point out areas of vulnerability or concern so we can claim God’s promises and pray diligently.
Here’s an example:
One day Fear points out the statistic that 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. This scary fact causes me to think about six of my closest friends and their husbands. Fifty percent? That means three of my friends’ marriages could break up. Then Fear flashes another statistic in front of my eyes—that the second highest rate of divorce occurs during the empty nest years. Yikes! That’s where we all are. Now I’m really afraid. I’m convinced that three of the six couples I care about are doomed. Which ones will it be?
Because Fear loves a crowd, it motivates me to share my findings with my friends. They start thinking about their husbands’ cute secretaries, the long hours they spend on their computers, or the way they’ve been quiet and preoccupied lately. By the time Fear has clocked out for the day, it’s disturbed and distressed four women. Since its quota was only one, its bonus check will be rolling in soon.
But we don’t have to jump on the fear train. There is a better way.
“Perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18).
Fear and love cannot coexist. Because God is love, and, if we’re believers, God lives within us, his love can neutralize the fearful darts of the enemy.
Here’s an example:
One day Fear points out the statistic that 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. That scary fact causes me to think about my six closest friends and their husbands. Fifty percent? That means three of my friends’ marriages could break up. Then Fear waves another statistic under my nose—the second highest rate of divorce occurs during the empty nest years. Yikes! That’s where we all are. Now I’m really afraid.
But God’s Spirit, whose voice is more powerful than the spirit of fear, takes control. He reminds me of the couples’ Bible study I read about online. What if you invite your friends to meet once a week for a marriage Bible study? He whispers in my ear. I share the idea with my husband, who suggests that we invite another couple to co-lead the study with us. We pray about it, then propose the idea to our friends. They enthusiastically embrace it, and we begin our study.
Four years later, we’re still meeting together to study, support, and pray for our marriages—and all six couples are still married.
The next time Fear whispers (or shouts) in your ear, I suggest you take these steps:
1. Hold up your fear to the truth of Scripture (2 Cor. 10:5). Ask, is this fear legitimate?
2. If yes, pray about it. Place the burden on God’s broad shoulders, and leave it there.
3. Search the Scriptures. Is there a promise you can claim, a principle you can apply, or an example you can learn from? I guaranteed there is. God’s Word is applicable to all situations.
4. Ask God to show you if there’s any action you should take. If yes, do it.
5. Believe that God can and will work in your situation.
6. Every time Fear whispers in your ear, silence his voice with the Word of God and prayer.
Repeat steps 1-6 as often as needed until you banish Fear and win the victory.
Now it’s your turn. What are you afraid of? Don’t let Fear make you powerless. Instead, let it make you powerful.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand” (Eph. 6:10).