Talk about a scary individual–for me that was understatement. I used to be a walking time bomb, easily set off by something as simple as someone jumping from behind me and yelling “Boo!” My favorite statement used to be, “But I am scared.” Everything from sleeping in the complete dark to watching television shows about criminals would cause me to become fearful…… It was/is absolutely ridiculous. To some, the things I used to fear may appear to be super silly or maybe even a joke but living outside of the Lord leaves us vulnerable to the tricks of the enemy. I was being tricked into believing I was or eventually would be a victim of every negative thing possible.
Take a moment and think about how you would define fear. According to Dictionary.com the definition of fear is a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid. I wanted to define fear to make sure we at least have a general idea of what fear is. Focusing on the definition of fear is necessary because contrary to what I used to (and many others) believe, there is an umbrella of things that are classified as and induced by fear.
Is it wrong to experience fear? Of course not. Jesus’ disciples experienced fear. The issue comes in when we allow fear to prosper. When we willfully allow ourselves to be fearful as Christians we are essentially saying, “God I know I am afraid and in essence I am throwing away my trust, hope, and faith in you and giving authority to this fear.” When we remain fearful we are throwing away the trust in God that shuts down the ideas of fear having the ability to prevail over the power of God. When we remain fearful we give up our hope of believing in Scripture and its validity. When we remain fearful we lose our faith to fear because we disregard the victory Christ gained on the cross.
I used to say, “No big deal. Everyone fears something at some point.” I had to let that philosophy go when I read Revelation 21:8 (NIV): “But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars–theirs will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” After reading this verse I began to view fear differently. I was in awe to think that being fearful could be the reason why I spend eternity in hell. It makes sense though, because while doing the Father’s business there is no place for fear. If He sends us into a country that is in the midst of war and we are in bondage to fear then we can already conclude that we have lost the war. Again, He won’t throw us into the lion’s den without an escape. And that is not to say that the escape will be what we imagine because God doesn’t care about the flesh, He cares about our soul.
Mark 4: 35-41 (NIV):
Jesus Calms the Storm
35 That day when evening came, He said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took Him along, just as He was, in the boat. There were also other boats with Him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” 39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey Him!”
Most importantly what I extracted from this story in the Bible was that while Jesus slept He had control over the situation. WHILE HE WAS SLEEP! Now we know that sleep was necessary for Christ only because He was in the flesh but we also know that He is now in the heavenly realms and He does not slumber nor does He sleep (Psalm 121:4). What do we need to fear when we serve a God who has exercised authority even in His sleep? Thank God man isn’t in charge because I know that for myself, I am as useful as a log while I sleep. That is why no one or no situation is too big or scary enough to cause us to be fearful. Don’t fear people, God tells us not to fear one who can only kill the flesh but has no say about the death of the soul. That was a big one for me because every crazy killing or kidnapping I heard about, I became paranoid that I would be next. It was bizarre, I know, but all thinking outside of Christ is foolish. Personally, some of my fear comes from childhood experiences but although those experiences have crippled me with fear for several years, lo and behold, He came to make all things new! Those old experiences cannot keep me in bondage to fear any longer, thank you Jesus.
Exodus 20:20 (NLT): “Don’t be afraid,” Moses answered them, “for God has come in this way to test you, and so that your fear of Him will keep you from sinning!”
1 Peter 3: 14 (NLT): “But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats.”
2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT): “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”
Matthew 10:31 (NIV): “So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
Luke 12:32 (NIV): “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.”
1 John 4:18 (NIV): “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
Matthew 10:28 (NIV): “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
Romans 8:15 (NIV): “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by Him we cry, “Abba, Father.”
Isaiah 54:4 (NIV): “Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood.”
Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV): “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Jeremiah 1:8 (NIV): “Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the LORD.”
Mark 5:36 (NLT): “But Jesus overheard them and said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith.”
Psalm 91: 4-8 (NTL): “ 4He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. 5Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. 6 Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. 7 Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you. 8 Just open your eyes, and see how the wicked are punished.”
Isaiah 41:10 (NIV): “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.”
Isaiah 41:13 (NIV): “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.”
Psalm 56:3-4 (NIV): “3When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. 4 In God, whose word I praise— in God I trust and am not afraid.What can mere mortals do to me?”
Psalm 23:4 (NIV): “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
Psalm 27:1 (NIV): “The LORD is my light and my salvation—– whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?”
As I have gotten older my fears became more than just being afraid of “the boogie-man.” I certainly have had my share of worry and stress regarding things we face in every day experiences. I have a history of worrying about everything—health, grades, my career goals, my salvation–everything you could possibly think of, especially things that didn’t affect me personally but pertained to family and close friends. Trying to figure out why we worry is pretty simple isn’t it? Something we are uncertain about or something that is a little shaky can cause us to WORRY…FEAR! Worrying might as well be another word for fear although I never looked at it that way until recently. Why was I worrying? Because I wasn’t having confidence in the Lord to provide me with good grades, a career, and to protect my family and friends etc.
Like I mentioned before, experiencing fear is a human characteristic. We have the emotion for a reason. However, the only positive thing that comes from fear is when it is associated with having fear and reverence for the Lord. It is respect, not tension or anxiety. My struggle with eliminating all fear out of my life still remains a current battle because I have been operating with a spirit of fear for so long that Christ has to help me identify what I am fearful of and how it affects me from day-to-day. I have operating italicized because I mean operating in a very minimal sense. Fear paralyzes so I definitely wasn’t operating in a way that God means for us to operate. I was merely operating enough to live a functional life but I wasn’t living as if Christ died to give me life more abundantly.
Many of the verses listed above are personal and relevant to my battle with fear. I spent many days and nights reciting those verses as I had them written on post-its and placed above my bed in my dorm. When I began to feel fearful, all I had to do was look up and recite Scripture. That was in the beginning of coming to know the Lord and the enemy did everything in his power to manipulate me into thinking that those verses were not alive and active. My doubt and second guessing fed that manipulation but I was determined to continue reading the verses because I knew that I had to start from somewhere. I hoped that once the verses were received by my spirit, the Holy Spirit could begin to bear witness to the Scriptures I was reading over and over again.
I would never want Christ to say to me, “Oh you of little faith.” That is one of the statements that automatically encourages me to shake off any areas in my life that is filled by anything that counteracts faith. It is such a blessing to have grown from the extremely fearful person I used to be. I am still a work in progress but I don’t find myself unable to sleep because of something that was merely a mental game. I don’t encourage anyone to play games with the devil. I pray that I have the mind of Christ and that I continuously have my mind on good, positive things. As I go day-to-day and explore and learn new things, I pray that stress and worry, which sometimes tries to come masked as something other than fear, are pushed out of my mind by thoughts of power, love, and a sound mind. I try to keep in the forefront of my mind that God is bigger than all of my fears. Any and everything that I could possibly worry or stress about, He has it all in His hand. I want it out of presence because I can’t do anything with the trash anyway. So I give it to Him and I make it a daily obligation to not ask for it back.