Faith ends where fear begins. This may seem like a bold statement. Yet as believers, we must come to a realization that a fear of anything except a healthy fear of God causes our journey of faith to come to a drastic halt.
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. -2 Tim. 1:7
Many of us would probably sit here proudly and declare that we aren’t afraid of anything. But, just because you’re not afraid of the dark or spiders, doesn’t mean that somewhere in your heart and life, there isn’t a fear holding you back from pressing forward in faith.
If we would be totally honest and willing to take a hard look inward, I believe all of us would have to say that in some area and at some point in our lives, there are fears present that hold us back from that walk of faith, and in so doing, steal our joy.
First, let’s take a moment to clarify what fear is. Fear is an emotion that draws a person into a self-protective mode. Most often, fears are related to what a person perceives to be a threat to one’s own safety and security. (losing a job, fear of heights, having a home burglarized, failing a test, fear of rejection, etc) Fear can have a positive component when it is in line with an actual threat. When you see a car veering into your lane- your fear triggers an automatic response to get out of the way. However, fear becomes a problem when you fear that which isn’t real, or when the amount of fear is disproportionate to the actual threat.
When it comes to matters of faith, fear will keep us from taking the next step forward. When God calls us forward in some area, many times we fear failure, rejection, let-down, or heart-ache. So, in these times of great fear, what are we to do?
Let’s look at several ways we are to combat fear. First, realize that fear and anxiety are defused by knowledge. Many fears are based off our misperceptions or outright lies to ourselves about the perceived threat to our safety and security. A recognition of those lies and an understanding of the truth are crucial in overcoming fear.
So, if truth and knowledge dispel fear, what can we do but go straight to the source of all truth and knowledge- the Bible! God’s word is loaded with instruction on what to do in times of fear, as well as promises of God’s goodness and protection. Psalm 37:1-7 gives many admonitions on what to do in fearful times. Psalm 91 contains promises that God is a refuge, and with Him is safety, and thus you are safe in His arms and under the shelter of His wings! Proverbs 3:5-6 reminds us that if we can trust God with our eternal soul, then He is trustworthy enough to see us through the difficulties of daily life.
Then, we must begin to change our thought patterns by disputing negative thoughts and lies with truth of Scripture (Phil 4:8; 2 Cor. 10:5) Throughout your day, commit to intentionally focus on the Lord. Shift your focus from the fear to the character of God (I Peter 5:7).
We’re also told to take our fear to God in prayer. (Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. -Phil 4:6)
Then in faith, begin to move forward. Take careful steps to face your fear. You will face setbacks, but determine to learn from them and face them down next time. When you become afraid, look at the external world and others, rather than focusing on your internal feelings.
Finally, in combatting fear, strive to further develop your personal relationships. Most people in fear or anxiety tend to isolate themselves. It may temporarily get you out of the situation, but it does nothing to conquer your fear. This is dangerous to your well-being and faith. Find supportive, encouraging, positive relationships. Seek those who will reinforce you, not who will tear you down further.
The fight for anxiety has its root in the heart and mind. For some, it can become crippling, plunging a person into depression. Yet Jesus has called us to a life full of faith, hope, peace, and joy. Fear cannot dwell where these abound. There are many obstacles on the road of faith. It is paved in brokenness, so it must be travelled in full surrender. Are you living with fear or anxiety that has you side-tracked?
Fight fear with the time-tested truths of God’s Word. Take your fear and your anxiety to the throne room of God. Recognize the deceptions for what they are- lies meant to halt your journey of faith and steal the joy of Christian living. As we have looked into this hurdle on the road of faith, we realize that victory is possible. Experience the joy of full surrender, and you can have faith to “Fear Less!”