Fear can drive people to do some crazy things. Fear spread across a group of people can cause panic and irrational behavior. Fear can cause imaginations to run wild and then lead to one jumping to conclusions. Fear untamed leads to worry and anxiety which can lead to profound health concerns.
Ever deal with this?
I do. In fact, fear is probably my strongest weakness. It frustrates me at times because according to scripture:
"Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe." (Proverbs 29:25)
"The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" (Psalm 118:6)
The LORD has grown me very much in this area, and I am oh so thankful! I remember being very, very young and being afraid of someone breaking into my house or kidnapping me, etc. I don't really remember how it began, but I remember being held captive by that fear many times. I had parents who were taking great care of me, and thankfully I was never kidnapped or burgularized, but as I got older my fears changed and grew to bigger monsters.
I feared what someone may think of me. I feared making mistakes. I feared tragedy. I feared nightmares. I feared a lot.
Then I met Jesus and began to learn to trust Him with my fears. This is a process that takes time and devotion. I have had to let go of my own understanding and trust in Him (Proverbs 3:5,6). Although He has set me free from fear, there is a daily decision needed to walk in freedom from fear and live that way instead of living in fear, anxiety, and worry.
About five or six years ago the Lord brought me to a whole new level of healing here. I was praying with a friend, and the Lord showed me myself as a little girl who was afraid. He showed me that because of Him I didn't have to fear any longer. I couldn't explain it, but after that moment I felt a real sense of relief. I had been set free in a way I had not yet experienced before.
Shortly after that I found this verse while in a group Bible study:
"Since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death-that is, the devil-and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death." (Hebrews 2:14,15)
I realized then that though I knew I would be in Heaven when I died, because I had accepted the free gift of salvation when I asked Jesus to be my Savior, I had still been afraid of many things including death. Why should the Christian fear death when He has promised us life and freedom from the fear of death? This was another breakthrough for me.
So with all of these truths and breakthroughs, I recognize times when I am gripped by fear as spiritual warfare. I already have the victory through my Lord, thankfully.
When I am afraid I have to ask myself a few questions.
1. Who am I trusting in? God? Myself? Someone else?
2. Is there a lie I am believing? What truth must replace that lie?
3. How much time have I spent reading and studying the Bible and in prayer lately?
I can find the reasons why I fear in the answers to these questions every single time. When I am afraid I am inevitably not trusting in the LORD, believing some lie, and have not been spending as much time with Him lately. Also, for me, I deal with fear more often when I stay up later at night. For some reason, my imaginiation runs more wild at night. Perhaps it is the stillness and the quiet. Perhaps it is the darkness. Perhaps it is just the fact that there is more actual darkness going on at night.
So what's a girl to do?
"When I am afraid, I will trust in you." (Psalm 56:3)
The word for trust here in Hebrew is batach. This kind of trust is security, boldness, and confidence in the one being trusted. This trust is the opposite of the fear I am speaking of. When I find myself being fearful, I am not confident, bold, or feeling secure! In fact, when I am walking in fear, I feel very insecure, very anxious, and very distracted by that fear.
"You who fear Him, trust in the LORD-He is their help and shield." (Psalm 115:11)
"I will say of the LORD, 'He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.'" (Psalm 91:2)
"The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe." (Proverbs 18:10)
The "fear" in Psalm 115:11 speaks of reverance. In other words, if I revere the LORD, then I must trust Him. The "righteous" in Proverbs 18:10 are those who have been made righteous because of Christ. All of those who have called upon Him as their Savior have been made righteous because of His death and resurrection. Therefore the Christian can run to the LORD and rest in Him.
Although real moments of fear are going to come - we are human, after all - is there any reason that a Christian should ever be living in fear? I can understand someone who has not decided to follow Jesus fearing because he does not yet have access to that strong tower. He should be afraid! He must first decide to follow Jesus and trust Him for salvation in order to be free from fear (free from the power of sin and death, as well!).
But Christian...why do you walk in fear?
As Christians, now more than ever, we need to know the Truth. We need to spend the time studying His Word and spending time with Him in prayer. I know, you may be thinking, "I don't have time," or "I don't know how," or "I don't really want to." Doing what is necessary is not always easy and does not usually come naturally. It takes intentionality to make this happen.
You have to make the time. Use your time wisely. Make this a priority.
If you don't know how, seek help. Tell the Lord you don't know how, and ask Him to teach you. He will. Just be real. A great resource to start out with Bible study is How to Study Your Bible: The Lasting Rewards of the Inductive Method by Kay Arthur. Also a great way to get started with prayer is going to the book of Psalms and praying some of the words there. Many people get intimidated with prayer. Perhaps they think it has to involve fancy words that sound very "spiritual," but it is simply a conversation. Prayer involves speaking and listening. Kay Arthur also has two great devotionals (for both men and women) to help you get started: one on prayer and one on Bible study.
Knowing the truth is so important because the truth sets us free!
"To the Jews who had believed Him, Jesus said, 'If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.'" (John 8:31,32)
Freedom from fear comes by choosing to follow Jesus and walking in the truth.
The desire to continue to study more and spend more time in prayer comes as you continue to do it. Sometimes the desire wanes and needs refreshing, but the Bible is SO exciting! Equally exciting is spending time praying, thanking God, listening for His direction, praying for others, and actually hearing from Him! The Christian life is one of great excitement, peace, and contentment when we are plugged into the source and spending time hanging out in His strong tower.
For me, when I am diligent in this, fear is forgotten. By His grace, I can live confidently, bold, secure because I trust Him to take care of every little detail. He is in control, and I can rest in knowing that He is God, and I am not.
I also must be careful to protect my mind, knowing that this is a weakness at times for me. This is one reason I am very careful with what movies or shows I watch, what books I read, and what conversations I engage in with others. You have to know yourself enough to know what your limits are. Don't be embarrassed to decline a certain movie that others want to watch because you know it would cause you to struggle with fear later. Be honest with others and with yourself. Ask the LORD to help you.
Be encouraged today. Fear not. Instead trust in Him.
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." (Romans 15:13)