Reject the Destructive Power of Fear
Do you have any phobias? Experts define “phobia” as a disabling or even irrational fear that can cause severe anxiety. Some phobias are quite common, such as acrophobia (fear of heights) or claustrophobia (fear of confined spaces). But others are as unusual as they are destructive. Imagine if you suffered from heliophobia (fear of sunlight) or ergasiophobia (fear of working). It would be difficult to even function normally in the world around you.
Few forces in this world are more powerful—and more destructive—than fear. It can paralyze our lives, rob us of our ability to make decisions, and even overwhelm our faith. That’s why we must focus on the great promise of Psalm 46:1-3.
Note that the Psalmist doesn’t deny that we will be confronted by some very real fears. We will face trouble. At times the waters do “roar and foam” around us. That’s when we need to find our refuge and strength in the Lord.
Are you struggling with fear today? Maybe it’s a financial crisis, a physical problem, or a strained relationship. No matter the source of the fear, it need not rob you of all God has for your life. Place your trust in Him and avoid the temptation to search for your own answers. As you rely on His wisdom and power, you can rest assured that, no matter the circumstances, He will not let you down.
What’s the biggest fear you’re facing today? What do you need to do to surrender that fear to God and trust Him with the situation?
How can you prepare yourself today to conquer the fears you will confront in the months and years to come?
Can Fear Be Healthy?
“Stay away from the air compressor. It’s dangerous.”
Four-year-old Jason had heard his grandfather’s warning countless times. But the compressor was so interesting. The loud, spinning belt and pulley especially intrigued him. Finally, the temptation became too great and, while Grandpa was looking away, Jason grabbed at the spinning belt.
A second later, Grandpa was startled by Jason’s terrified scream. His hand had been ripped through the pulley. As blood poured from his fingers, Grandpa gently but quickly picked him up and rushed him to the ER. Two hours and several stitches later, Jason understood his grandfather’s wisdom in a way he’d never forget. While the compressor itself wasn’t something to be afraid of, he still needed to fear and respect what it could do if he didn’t follow instructions.
Jason’s story is a good reminder that there is such a thing as healthy fear, especially when it comes to our relationship with God. Listen to the words of the prophet Jeremiah:
We must never forget that God is all-loving and filled with compassion and mercy for us. Yet He still calls us to fear Him, and for good reason. God isn’t telling to dread Him, or avoid Him like we’d keep our distance from something dangerous. Rather, He instructs us to remember who He is: the all-powerful Creator of the universe. He has the power and the desire to save us, but He also has power to judge and punish if we choose to ignore His plan for our lives. The right choice is to respect Him for who He is, and respond by walking with Him all the days of our lives. That’s a decision we never need to fear.
What is the difference between a healthy fear of God and a dreadful fear of something that’s bad or dangerous for us?
What are some practical ways your life can reflect a healthy fear of God?
Have you ever been to a haunted house at a carnival? Usually they’re quite predictable. “Victims” walk through a maze of narrow, darkened passages. Without warning, the lights will go out as the floor becomes tilted. Sometimes water drips from the ceiling, or something begins banging on the walls. All the while, strange sounds emanate from unseen places. And, without exception, an unexpected “visitor” will jump, screaming, from a hidden doorway. He’s often the same guy who took your ticket at the start.
As predictable and even corny a haunted house might seem, many people still find them frightening. Although they know nothing in there can really hurt them, they become startled and unsettled. All assurances of safety seem forgotten as goosebumps start forming on the back of their necks.
Of course, a haunted house has no basis in reality. But everyday life often presents us with circumstances that could cause anyone to be afraid. Yet God assures us that these crises don’t need to fill our hearts with fear either. Take heart in the words of Proverbs 3:25,26:
Fear is capable of freezing us in our tracks and destroying our joy in the Lord. We see how problems and troubles afflict the world, and we’re tempted to assume those calamities will get the best of us as well. But we have a great assurance in God. No matter our circumstances, we can go to the Lord for help, fully confident that He will protect us and provide what we need to overcome. Yes, trouble will still “pop up” on us unexpectedly. But we have Someone to guide us safely through.
Why do you think God allows us to go through circumstances that could cause fear? What can we learn in those situations?
What kind of problem is most likely to cause you to be afraid? Why? How do you normally respond in those situations? What kind of response would best demonstrate your confidence in God?
Love: Antidote to Fear
1 John 4:17, 18
The great theologian Karl Barth was teaching a class of seminarians when one of the students asked, “What’s the most important theological truth you ever taught?” Pencils in hand, everyone in the room immediately fixed their eyes on the great professor. They could scarcely contain their excitement over the good fortune of being present at that moment. What profound and complex concept would he share with them?
After thinking for a time, Barth replied, “Jesus loves me, this I know. For the Bible tells me so.”
Of all the great and powerful truths we could ever learn about God, none can compare to the simple fact that He loves us. It’s a divine, life-transforming love...a love that fills us with hope and joy. And, as we read in 1 John 4:18, it’s a love that can displace even the most powerful, terrifying fear.
Simply put, when we’ve placed our lives in God’s hands we have nothing to fear. Why? Because even the thing that we should fear the most—God’s judgment for sin—has been taken away by His love. And that same love guards, protects, encourages, and sustains us in the midst of every storm.
So, if you’re afraid today, remember God’s love. It’s the perfect antidote to every fear. In what sense is God’s love “perfect”?
How does knowing that God’s love for you is perfect impact your response to the biggest fears in your life?
God Makes Us Bold
2 Timothy 1:7
Do you know someone who really intimidates you? It might be a supervisor, an instructor, or even just a neighbor. Many times, this individual has no intention of causing such a feeling. Yet the very thought of even talking to him or her leaves you feeling nervous or hesitant.
Likewise, we all face situations that intimidate us. This can be especially true when it comes to having a conversation with someone about God. Yet such a fear is unhealthy, as Paul explained to a young pastor he was mentoring named Timothy:
God has called each of us to be open and transparent about our faith. He wants us to express to others the joy He’s placed within our hearts. However, for some of us, this does present a challenge. The fears of uncertainty and self-doubt begin to well up inside us. That’s when we must bring to mind what God has placed inside our hearts: power, love, and a uniquely eternal perspective.
Whether we’re presenting the gospel to a friend or simply interacting with coworkers on break, being open about our faith can be a source of fear. Counteract those emotions with a focus on what God has done for you. When you let His love show through your words as well as your actions, rather than focusing on your own limitations, you’ll become a bold reflection of His life-changing power. And that’s something no one needs to fear.
Why do you think so many people struggle with fear when it comes to putting their faith in display in words as well as actions?
In what ways is the power and love of Christ visible in your life? How can you overcome timidity when you have opportunity to put that power and love on display?
A New Perspective
The story is told of a member of the British parliament who took his eight-year-old daughter on a tour of the great landmarks in London. She was especially awed by Westminster Abbey. The man couldn’t help but be intrigued by her intense concentration as she took in the beauty and grandeur of the magnificent building. Finally he asked, “What are you thinking about, sweetheart?”
The little girl replied, “I was thinking how big you look at home, and how small you look in here.”
A young child’s honest response reminds us that when it comes to facing our biggest fears, it’s all about perspective. That problem, that need, that impossible situation all seem insurmountable when measured against the finite resources of this present world. But divine promises like the one found in Psalm 27 help us change our point of view.
We all face fears that are very real, and rightfully seem impossible from a human point of view. But God melts our fears by giving us an eternal perspective. He reminds us that our salvation rests in His almighty hands. We have access to divine strength. Our hope is in an everlasting God who is not intimidated by the current situation.
Are you facing fear today, something that threatens to overwhelm you? Bring to mind God’s eternal promises. Take comfort in His unequaled strength and wisdom. You may still find it necessary to walk through that valley—surrounded by God’s care. But the fear that seeks to destroy you will itself be overwhelmed by the eternal grace of our loving Heavenly Father.
What does it mean to have an “eternal perspective”? How will such a perspective change the way you live your life?
How can you maintain an eternal perspective even during the
When You’re Afraid...
Is there a lottery in the state where you live? If so, you know that as the jackpot rises, countless people will line up to buy tickets in the hope of finding a worry-free life. Yet they fail to see that this “dream” is often more like a nightmare. Studies show that major lottery winners do experience changed lives—but the changes are often far more negative than positive. Once solid families give way to broken homes. Long-lost relatives and casual friends come out of nowhere to lobby for their own piece of the winnings. Some have even become victims of fraud or violent crime as a result of their newfound wealth.
Why does this happen? One reason is that the winners soon find out that money doesn’t solve the problems and crises of life. It doesn’t take away their fears or eliminate their vulnerabilities. Worse yet, they’re left to wonder, “If all this money doesn’t take away my problems, what will?” Sadly, they fail to realize that life always includes struggles and uncertainty, no matter who we are or what we possess. We all face circumstances that shake us to the foundation. And when those times come, we need to know where to turn for help and hope. Perhaps the Psalmist said it best in Psalm 56:
If we look to money or possessions for answers when fear grips us, we will be sadly disappointed. But we have a greater option. God invites us to trust Him. Sometimes He will deliver us from the situation; other times He gives us strength to push through. Either way, we can rest assured that trusting God will bring hope and power that money can never buy.
When you find yourself afraid, is trusting God your first response or your last resort? Why?
What does it mean to trust God with your fears? Does trusting God mean you stop looking for solutions, or that you stop trying to help make the situation better?
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International
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