Fear and Faith

Originally published Friday, 01 May 2015.

I recently shared with friends a few fears I've had about writing. I fear failure and getting it all wrong. I fear man and what others say about what I have written. I fear all the uncertainty of the unknown future. I even fear running out of words!

Fear is something we all have in common as humans. We all know what it is like when our stomach clenches tight, our breath seems to stop in our throat, and our heart starts to do jumping jacks in our chest. Perhaps you are facing fears right now. Maybe you lie awake at night gripped with fear about those storm clouds looming on the horizon of your life.

If you are facing fear right now, or ever have, I want to tell you about Fear and Faith: Finding the Peace Your Heart Craves written by my friend, Trillia Newbell. Fear and Faith looks at a number of the common fears women face, including such fears as fear of man, fear of the future, fear of tragedy, and fear of not measuring up. Using examples from her own life, as well as from contributions provided by other women, Trillia looks at these fears in light of the gospel and what Jesus has done for us. She goes through Scripture, showing us God's trustworthy character and why we can find rest from our fears in him and grow in holy fear and awe of him. Trillia reveals to us how faith in God sets us free from fear and gives us the peace our heart's desperately need.

Fear and Faith doesn't look at fear like someone looking through a window from the outside. Rather, fear is addressed head on and from the perspective of those who have face real fears. Some of the stories are about heavy, difficult subjects. One of the unique features of this book is the personal stories provided by other women, from all backgrounds and life experiences, who have faced serious fears and found strength and hope in Christ. This book is not unrealistic and acknowledges the fact that fear will be with us as long as we live in this fallen world and sometimes, our deepest fears do end up coming true. Trillia points us to the One who is with us in all our fears and who conquered sin, death, and our greatest fear at the cross.

She writes:

"When your fears tell you that you are alone, God whispers, "I am your God." He will uphold you. He has adopted us as His children. He sent His Son to die for us. He loves us with an everlasting love. He has covenanted with us. You fears tell you that you have to be strong. God tells you, "I will strengthen you." Your fears will tell you that you will fall and fail. Your fears will tell you that you have to muster up the strength to be all that you think the Lord desires you to be, and that you must do it on your own. Your fears will tell you that you don't measure up and never will. God tells you, "I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." (p.149).

I asked Trillia a few questions about her book and this is what she said:

What prompted you to write a book on fear?

Fear has been something I’ve struggled with most of my life. What I realize is that I’m far from being alone in this fight. I wanted to encourage the faith of readers through the stories of others and the truth of God’s word. My hope is that women would be encouraged in their faith.

Who needs to read this book; who is it intended for?

The book is geared towards women. I thought it was important to focus on the various fears that many women battle, such as fear of not measuring up and body image, since I am a woman and can relate to these struggles. But, as I’ve heard from readers, the book can definitely be a great benefit to men as well. Men can relate to the many fears addressed and if not, they can use it to serve and encourage the women in their lives.

In the book, you cover a variety of common fears we all face. Why do you think so many of us struggle with fear? What do you think keeps us stuck in our fears?

When we really dig deeply into our hearts, I think we discover that much of fear is rooted in unbelief. It’s hard to feel like we aren’t in control, it’s hard to trust, and it’s difficult to wait. We’d much rather be sovereign, but we aren’t. We don’t know the future and we can’t control the actions of others. Often our fears are little proclamations that God is not good enough or wise enough to handle what we are anxious about. I think what keeps us stuck in our fears is when our minds are literally set on them. I think that’s one reason Isaiah tells us that the mind that is set on God is at perfect peace (Isa. 26:3).

I appreciate that you distinguish legitimate fears from illegitimate fears. How can we maintain a proper perspective on what is legitimate and what isn't?

I do believe that God gives us the emotion to fear as a caution. To think that we can or should trust everyone and every situation could be more reckless than it is trusting in God. We want to be wise.

You've included a number of interviews with women who have faced fear and experienced God's peace in the midst of their fears. Including these interviews makes me think of the importance of having godly Christian sisters in our lives who can walk alongside us in our fears. How do you think we can utilize the Body of Christ in this battle with fear?

Wonderful question. I’m so thankful that God sets us in a family when we become Christians. And if you haven’t found a local church, I really couldn’t urge you more to find a solid church to invest in—and what’s amazing is you will also be invested in (that is my prayer, at least). The Scriptures are filled with verses about the importance of the Church. Christ died for her and we are given to one another for mutual encouragement, support, service, and love.

In the book, I share about my struggles with miscarriages and how the Lord used the church to help me receive comfort—they comforted me with the comfort they received from God (2 Cor. 1:3-4). I’ve also benefited from small groups and friend accountability groups. They provide places for me to be open about my fears and temptations so I can be reminded of the truth of the gospel. It’s a place where we can confess our sins to one another as well as relate to and with others who have struggled in these areas.

Are there any specific Bible passages or verses you cling to when you are tempted to fear?

Much of the Scriptures really serve me in the area of fear. So, it depends on what I am fearing at the moment. For example, when fear of man begins to creep up again, I remind myself that the fear of man is indeed a snare (Prov. 29:25).  The fear of man is irrational and keeps me from truly walking out my faith. If I’m thinking about the future and pondering the “what ifs” I’ll remind myself that today has enough trouble of its own (Matt. 6:34). God has abundant grace for me today, but I can’t carry the unknown burdens of the future (so often we try to). If I’m more aware of my sin and fearing that God is disappointed in me as a result, I remind myself that there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:1). Most of all, I remember the character of God and the amazing sacrifice and grace of His Son, Jesus. God is my loving Father (Eph. 1:3). He loves me with a sacrificial love (1 Pet. 1:3). He is faithful (Exodus 34:6). Jesus relates to my sorrow and pain and tells me to run to his throne of grace to receive help in my time of need (Heb. 4: 15-16). This doesn’t scratch the surface! He is awesome!

I love God’s word and that I can learn about the God who rules the universe and yet is also so intimately aware of me. He is a good and loving God and I’m thankful that I can run to him during my fears. Grateful that you can too.