Fear is an emotion given to us from God as a means of keeping us from harm in times of perceived danger. I always heard that if something is present and potent there is cause to be afraid. That is the emotion that you are supposed to feel. That is how God planned our lives.
Fear can become an obsession that controls us. People live in fear of sickness and germs. Some people are afraid of heights and others are afraid of being alone. These kinds of fears are often called phobias. People live in fear of their losing their job. They live in fear of losing their spouse. None of these are present or potent. These are examples of being afraid of something that may or may not happen.
LIVING IN FEAR DOES NOT HELP
Living in constant fear is destructive to the human psyche. It is a life that must carry the weight of constant expectation that something bad may happen. Let me tell you about my life and my experience with fear.
I was born with four holes in my heart and, by a miracle, I am here today, 37 years later. When I was a child, my mother lived in fear. She didn’t want me to play too hard and always asked if I was okay. It was understandable because she had lost me once on the operating table, and the doctors brought me back to life. Neither she nor the doctors had much hope in my long-term survival. Needless to say, I had a sheltered childhood.
I remember my parents having an argument when I was 9 about me playing soccer. My father understood that I needed a chance to be a kid. I played soccer for 13 years, coached it for 2, and refereed for a season. Today I still play indoor soccer a few times a month. My father understood that my mother’s fear of losing me was taking over my childhood. Fear had taken over her and was affecting the way that she was raising me.
HOPE IN GOD
My mother needed to find her hope in God. The Psalmist wrote, “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold” (Psalm 18:2).
If we struggle with fear, whether real or imagined, can find the inner strength to set aside our fear by looking to God and the promises of the Word of God. It is very helpful to memorize verses in the Psalms (Psalm 3:3; 5:12; 7:10; 18:30; 18:35; 28:1; 28:7) and let them be our confession of faith.
Five years ago, I went into the doctor because my heart had a small leak. I thought that I should get it fixed before it got worse. My doctors decided to run some tests. Right before the test, they had me sign a waiver because there was a risk of death. At that point, I became afraid and so did my wife. The thought of dying and leaving her unprepared to live alone, without enough money to support herself and our two kids, made me very afraid.
I hid my fear from everyone and was rolled into the operating room. There I learned that I was going to be awake for the entire test. “It can’t be that bad,” I thought. “This should be easy.” But in the back of my mind was the fear that something was going to go wrong.
I too, like my mother, needed to learn a deeper trust in God. Was He my shield and protector in my times of danger? Would I trust Him to be faithful? I needed to call on His name as my Hope and Deliverer. Man can often fail, but my life was not in the hands of man but in God’s hands. He has promised to be near and to meet the needs of His children. God had redeemed me by the blood of Christ and that same blood could now protect me and give me health.
PEACE FROM GOD
I heard the doctor say, “we are going to pace your heart and we need you to count backward from 20.” So, I started 20…19…18…17… I really didn’t like the feeling in my chest; my heart was responding, and I was just lying there. 16… 15…14… I started to feel woozy. 13… My mind was rushing.
Then nothing… There was no more need to fear, no more need to have “what if?” God was with me. Just nothing… Then something… I started to hear something. I must be waking up. He was bringing me through!
I started to hear music, wonderful heavenly music that not only pierced every fiber of my being. It was the kind of music that never ended and you never wanted it to end. Before I knew it, I was surrounded by waves of peace… peace that canceled everything out… peace that passes understanding… peace that tells you that you are okay… peace that removes fear… the fullness of peace that is immeasurable and all-consuming and peace that reminds you that everything is going to be okay, because it is from God. I had passed into God’s presence where there is perfect peace.
“Mr. Jones?” I heard, “Are you okay? Can you hear me? Just nod your head.” My eyes slowly opened, and I had the strangest sensation that my body was moved without me knowing it. Tears rushed down my cheeks and the peace that I was feeling slowly faded. The last feeling I remember was the reassurance that God had me, that He has my family and that there is nothing to fear. God had been so faithful. He did not fail me. He cannot fail. He was closer than a brother.
FEAR CAN BE CONQUERED
God had helped me conquer my fear, and it wasn’t just the fear of losing my family or how to provide for them after death but all of my daily fear. In passing into death and back into life, I had learned to stand upon the promise of God. I now saw that He will not fail us even in the most difficult of circumstances.
I learned to say with the Psalmist, “The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him” (Psalm 28:7).
God knows you, knows what you will do, knows where you will go, your future, your past, the things you hide from everyone else. Like the Psalmist we can learn to turn to God in our moments of fear and know that He is near. We can confess, with the Savior at our side, knowing that He will never leave us or forsake us, that He will bring us through to the other side of whatever we face. He is teaching us to trust Him. We are learning to become more dependent on God. We learn to turn our hearts to Him in every fearful situation.
The prophet Isaiah wrote, “fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
This assurance of God’s nearness begins by trusting Jesus as our Savior. Jesus came into the world to save us from our sins. He was crucified on the cross, taking our place. He took upon himself the sin of the entire world. The Bible says that three days later He arose from the dead. He conquered sin and death. To be saved, we must put our entire trust in Jesus. We must then begin to follow Him.
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