When we look out our doors, scroll on our screens, or simply talk to our neighbors, one thing is always waiting for us—the invitation to fear. We live in a world that needs people of faith to walk boldly and speak courageously. The followers of Jesus are not immune to fear; they just have truths that can help them face fright with faith.
When the tentacles of fear threaten to squeeze your heart and drain your strength, here are 10 truths God has given us to cut through the lies the enemy tries to trap us with.
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1. God loves you and cares for you.
Even when we deeply acknowledge the great sovereignty of God, we can still find ourselves paralyzed by fear. When this happens, we need to ask: “Do we believe God loves us?” It is a truth preached from many pulpits, but too many souls sitting in congregations have yet to let this powerful revelation sink into the marrow of their existence. When we truly grasp the love of God, trust becomes our default response. When trust rules our hearts, we do not question the care our God is willing to extend to us.
In Luke 12:22-26 Jesus tells his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?”
“And how much more valuable you are...”Jesus says. Yes, he is powerfully sovereign and judge of the universe, but he also loves us purely, completely, and perfectly. Every little need in our lives is something he is concerned about, because he cares about us.
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2. Your help comes from the Lord.
Not only do we need to know we are loved and cared for, but we also need to know we are not alone. We have a helper in our God. In Isaiah 41:13-14 he declares, “For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. Do not be afraid, you worm Jacob, little Israel, do not fear, for I myself will help you,” declares the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.”
Clearly, we see that God is mighty and powerful, while we may have the power of nothing more than a worm, we are still his people. Who can join in with the praise from Psalm 121:2 whenever we are feeling alone and helpless, “My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
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3. A proud heart will feed fear.
When it comes to living afraid and full of worry, 1 Peter 5:7 is often quoted, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” There is nothing wrong with holding to the miraculous potency of this verse, but we must not forget what Peter instructs first in verse 6, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”
When we look at casting our cares as something we must do, instead of as a natural overflowing of a surrendered life, we begin to detect the poison of pride. And pride may be able to mask fear, but it also feeds fear. When we try to do anything apart from God, somewhere within us, we know we do not have the strength to live the life to which we have been called. If our trust points to ourselves, we will always be afraid because we are fallible and frail. What we need is to trust in the mighty, unfailing hand of God.
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4. Storms do not terrify our savior.
It only takes one earthquake, or one fender bender to know that life doesn’t always go as planned, but when storms hit, the unpredictability of them has the ability to terrorize. The storms we see in nature can make branches fall, level houses, and demand the price of life. The storms that fall in our lives can make relationships break, threaten our health, and demand the comfort of security. We must be aware of what the storm can do and take proper action, but we also must stand firm on the truth that God is not surprised.
The story of the storm in Mark 4 should give us all hope that we can have rest when the waves of life begin to churn. Jesus and his disciples were far from shore and on a boat when a tempest bore down, the disciples began to fret and Jesus was at rest until his frightened followers woke him. “He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Qiuiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?’” Mark 39:40 Again the question is put before us: faith or fear? Trust or terror?
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5. The Spirit of God is not afraid.
We have been given a gift in the Holy Spirit, and anyone who trusts in Jesus for the forgiveness of sin and as lord of their life has the Holy Spirit within them. 2 Timothy 1:7 tells us “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” We should rejoice in this truth; it is fact that does not change, even when our faith wavers. The fact is that even when you are burdened by your fears, the spirit within empowers you to not be timid.
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6. Move toward a holy vision, not false security.
When hopes and vision don't fill our hearts, our minds can easily drift to terror and suspicion. When we do not dream of the future, we begin to fear it. Daring to dream requires hope, and hope can feel risky. If we are already prone to fear, we can slowly try to craft a world around ourselves with the illusion that we are in control of all possible outcomes. Shooting for the dreams God places in our heart can feel perilous because we do not want to be disappointed.
However, in our avoidance of unmet expectations, we allow ourselves to become people of fear instead of faith. The security we build around ourselves is built on shifting sand; building on Jesus means a much more solid foundation., “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1
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7. Be still and know.
There is little that can soothe our fear like knowing we belong to God. But in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, when we are beckoned to rush from here to there, we forget. This constant pacing of our minds can distract us from remembering that God is God. We know it in one sense like 2 and 2 is 4, but it's been pushed far from center view. When that happens, it is easy for us to see circumstances as more daunting than they truly are, for we know that through Christ we are more than conquerors who need not worry about the obstacles that may come our way.
When everything feels hectic and full of angst we must stop and remember our God says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10
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8. Step back into the present.
Fear can feel like it appears from nowhere, but often when it comes at us sideways, it is because we have let our mind wander aimlessly into the future. Not knowing what tomorrow holds is part of humanity’s limitations, but we try to defy this constraint at every turn.
We begin to imagine the worst and find ourselves suddenly paranoid and anxious. We ask: What will happen to my children? What will happen to my job? What will happen to my spouse? What will happen to me? As we sit with those questions that we cannot answer, fear begins to wrap around our hearts and nightmares seep in. We play out scenarios in our head that will most likely never happen but convince ourselves they almost certainly will. In these “possible” future spaces, we let our imaginings take us out of the present and into a bleak future. As believers, we are not to fret about such things.
Jesus, himself told us in Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
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9. God is with you.
Each Christmas we are reminded that Jesus is Immanuel: God with us. But that is not the only place where this hope is found. Isaiah 41:10 was reported as Bible App You Version’s most read verse of 2018 and its encouragement is this, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” What a balm of truth this verse is to the frightened soul.
Not only is he with us, but he will strengthen us for our calling to“be strong, and courageous” that we see in Joshua 1:9: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
God is with us wherever we go and that will never change.
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10. You will eventually live in perfection.
The terrible truth that we see when fear tells us tales we pray will never happen is that trouble does come. Jesus tells his disciples in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
We can hold on to that peace relentlessly. We can have it when terminal diseases strike, when we don’t know where provision will come from, and when we are betrayed by those we have trusted. We can have peace because we know this world is not ours forever home. It is a layover on the way to perfection. All believers who travel through this fallen world, with all its ups and downs, live with the peace that Heaven, and eternity with the Prince of Peace, is our final destination.
Chara Donahue is a co-author of the Bible study 1, 2 & 3 John: Experiencing Transformation and is working on her next book. She enjoys serving as a biblical counselor, speaking to women, and savoring coffee when her four kids are out playing with dad. She holds an MSEd from Corban University, is passionate about seeing people set free through God's truths, and is the founder and editor of Anchored Voices. Get in touch with her on Facebook or Twitter.
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Originally published Monday, 31 December 2018.