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The moment strikes, or maybe the moments have been piling up. It could be from news feeds scrolling into your minds every day, or it could be the news of something which impacts your life more than you wish it did. Either way, it’s all a bit too much and you might find yourself frozen. I call it being mired in mud.
Fear has settled over you and now the freedom you thought you had seems to have disappeared. You feel unable to move forward.
Fear has not only encroached at this point, it’s made you feel incapable of progress. Right then is when you, and I, need to see just how faith is a force that faces fear head on and finds courage rising up.
For most of my life, I’ve lived with fear as a close companion. I’d grown so comfortable with fear’s presence I was afraid to deal with fear. I wanted it gone, but what I really wanted was someone else to deal with my fears for me. I wanted someone to make them just go away so I could be strong, clear minded, and brave again.
If Christ could come on the cross to save me from my sin, couldn’t he just come and save me from my fears too?
The gist of my prayers came down to this. “Deliver me from sin. Deliver me from fear, too. Thank you, Amen.”
Somehow this request seems less appealing today. When I cried out, it wasn’t so much God I was looking for, rather a genie called God. It wasn’t so much about the power of Christ and what he could do, even though I thought it was, but a plea for Christ to do for me what the very work of the cross enables me to do as a believer.
I wanted the easy way out. “Just take it, Lord, and all will be well.”
God in his infinite wisdom didn’t allow it to work out this way. In fact, he often doesn’t. Rather, He calls us to some pretty challenging ways that seem ironic at best, maybe even terrifying. He calls us to be courageous and one of the most courageous things we’ll ever do is take the necessary steps to move forward in faith when fear cripples.
1. Find Your Footing in God’s Word
No matter what surrounds us, we always have the promise of a solid foundation to stand on. God’s Word.
Faith is fueled from the source, God’s Word and His truths. As Romans 10:17 says, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing through the word of Christ.” Practically, I find it helpful to turn on worship music, read the Bible, or even play the Bible on audio, especially when it’s hard to pray. I tend to cry out simple prayers that are a mere breathing out, “Dear God”, while seeking the Holy Spirit to intercede as we’re told He does.
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” Romans 8:26
I just love knowing the Spirit himself intercedes. It’s personal and reminds me that the very Spirit of God is working on my behalf when I can’t even express what I need to. It helps me believe and trust in God’s power.
Once we remind ourselves of the sure foundation which is there, we begin to remove some of the sticky mud.
2. Identify the Lies You Believe
We may unknowingly hold onto beliefs that oppose the truths of God. These false beliefs cling like sludge and refuse to let go until we recognize them and replace them. They may be about God, others, and/or ourselves and we need to examine what they are in order to get rid of them. Sometimes, it takes the fellowship of strong believers to help us identify them. Maybe we believe we can’t, when we can. Maybe we believe God doesn’t care, when he does.
In 2 Corinthians 10:5 Paul talks about taking our thoughts captive. Our thought life adds to the fears we experience. Winning the war in our minds begins with taking note of our thoughts and putting them in submission to Christ.
Whether our reason for feeling fearful is fully valid or not, we need to ask ourselves honestly if they’re thoughts we are feeding to ourselves which increase our level of fear. When we are honest about the thoughts we are having, we can begin to test them in the light of scripture and consider how they hold up to God’s truth.
Ephesians 4 talks about putting off the old self, which is corrupt, and putting on the new self, which is in Christ. In these verses, Paul also talks about putting away corrupt talk. I believe we must also deal with corrupting self-talk. What we say to ourselves reinforces what we believe.
We need active, intentional steps on our part to remind ourselves of God’s truths that oppose our false beliefs. What does God say about who He is? Who are we as His creation? How has God shown His goodness in hard times before?
3. Replace the Lies with Truth
Our next step is to take action on the true beliefs we must hold on to. If we have believed we are at the mercy of other people or circumstances, then we are falsely believing that we have no power to do the very things God calls us to. If someone tells you to do something that goes against God’s will, the truth is you have the power to say no. It may be hard and the truth is your circumstances could get worse. But, your heart will experience greater freedom and courage in doing so.
I’ve found that each time I take a bold step of action in line with what is true about God’s word, my fears lessen and I am encouraged, regardless of the outcome. If I don’t, I may not yet understand the truth accurately.
I’ve walked crippled and know the power of learning to walk free. It’s come through intentional steps of seeking a foundation, facing my fears honestly, actively replacing lies with truth, and then living out steps in line with God’s truths.
God equips and provides for all of us as believers. May we remember God is with us, He will not leave us, and He has given us what we need.
May we know today, we can move forward in faith.
Jolene Underwood is passionate about cultivating a life well-lived, because when trials come a well-lived life goes beyond surviving to thriving. You can find her words at joleneunderwood.com and as a contributor for Grace Table. She also offers both spiritual and writing encouragement for writers, speakers, and entrepreneurs through the Rise Up Writers community and newsletter. Connect with Jolene on her site for her new tool which will be available soon. Unleash: Heart and Soul Care Sheets. Join her conversations of encouragement & faith via Twitter/Instagram/Pinterest at @theJoleneU.