We all face fears. Fears about performance, security, identity and acceptance afflict all of us. Fear is part of our fallen condition. It’s so deeply ingrained that it is widely used to motivate and control us. Tap into a person’s fear and you can get their attention, their votes and their money. In many ways, fear rules this world as it rules our lives.
Understanding our fearful state, Jesus came saying “fear not, I’ve overcome the world.” He calls on us to turn our back on fear and move forward in trust. If ever there was a challenge for us, this is it.
Do not be afraid—I am with you!
I am your God—let nothing terrify you!
I will make you strong and help you;
I will protect you and save you. Isaiah 41:10
Fear not. This is a great starting point. God tells us not to be afraid. He wouldn’t have told us this if it wasn’t possible, nor if it wasn’t in our best interest. We need to obey the command. But fear can seem so powerful and crippling. How do we “fear not?”
The answer is complex. It includes understanding what fear is, where fear comes from, and how we can respond to it. The first thing to understand is fear is a product of our belief. Fear exists because we give it power to exist.
Fear is faith. Fear isn’t the actual danger. Fear is the faith we give the danger to do us harm. Dangers can be real or imagined. How we perceive danger is on us. Fear is built on what we believe.
Often we create fear where there is little or no danger (thank you, news media). We can make a danger to be bigger and more powerful than it is. Instead of feeding and building up our fear, we need to starve it of our imagination and belief.
“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot afterward do anything worse.” Luke 12:4
Fear needs context. Jesus had the audacity to tell us not to fear death (and all of the little things, too). If ever there was a real danger to our lives, it is death. Death looms over all of us. Yet Jesus said that we should think about it in the context of eternity and our Creator. To a God that raised Christ from the dead, death loses its sting. Place your fear in the context of God and what He has done in your life and you’ll see it shrink down to nothing.
Courage is a choice. Fear usually sneaks up on us. We don’t wake up thinking “I’m going to freak out today.” No, fear comes at us like a roaring lion, seeking to intimidate us. The choice isn’t to never fear, it’s to face the fear with courage.
Courage is a response to danger based on experience, hope and belief. When fear wants us to avoid a challenge, courage tells us to go forward ignoring the fear. Courage is required if you’re ever going to do something difficult or selfless. Be brave today.
“There is no fear in love; perfect love drives out all fear.” 1 John 4:18
Love resists fear. This one is a mystery. How can love push away fear? I’m not sure. But when I think that the Eternal God sees me and loves me, everything else sort of loses its importance. Fear fades away.
The same was true when my mom gave me a hug or my dad told me things would be ok. The same is true when a friend reaches out or when I consider the faithful love of my wife. Love is a powerful tool against fear. Let’s use it extravagantly to encourage one another along life’s way.
photo by James Coleman