Saturday, November 14, 2015

Facing Our Fears


Generations before us knew and understood what it meant to live in fearful times. We certainly aren’t the first. But earth has become so small through our technology that each horrendous occurrence around the world comes to us quickly, sometimes while it’s still happening. It feels as if we are there, that it’s happening to us.  The events of 911 reminded us again that Americans aren’t bullet proof, either. It’s easy…even normal…to fear.
Fear is not all bad. It’s actually a God-given reaction to danger. According to the University of Minnesota (,

Fear is a human emotion that is triggered by a perceived threat.
It is a basic survival mechanism that signals our bodies to respond
to danger with a fight or flight response. As such, it is an essential
part of keeping us safe.
Fear is not all good, either. According to this same website:

people who live in constant fear, whether from physical
dangers in their environment or threats they perceive, can become

Incapacitated means “prevented from performing in a normal way” … immobilized … paralyzed.  Believers are not called by God to be paralyzed by constant fear of persons or things or events or what could happen in our lives. The Bible does speak a lot about fearing God: But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you. (I Samuel 12:24)

Nowhere does scripture advise believers (Christ followers) to be immobilized or paralyzed with fear.

Without question, the world we experience is often a frightening place. The news tells us that. Happenings in our own lives tell us that. If we are believers, what should our reactions be in the face of our fears?

Surely we can be watchful and vigilant. Clearly we should use common sense and exercise caution. God gifted us with the ability to do those skills and expects us to use them to protect those we love and those around us.

But to allow our fears to incapacitate us is simply not supported by scripture. The advice it does give us for facing fear is this:

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.  (II Timothy 1:7)

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?  (Psalm 27:1)
Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident. (Psalm 27:3)
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 23:4)

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, (Psalm 46:2)

Why should I fear when evil days come, when wicked deceivers surround me
(Psalm 49:5)

They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting
in the Lord. 
(Psalm 112:7)
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.  (Isaiah 41:13)

But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.”  (I Peter 3:14)

Calm assurance in the face of fearful situations isn’t a natural reaction for most of us.  Panic, hysteria, and paralysis often are.  How then can we face real threats and credible fears in the unnatural way of ones who trust Christ for all things?  Scripture addresses the how as well: I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. (Psalm 34:4);

You came near when I called you, and you said, “Do not fear.” (Lamentations 3:57)

but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.  (Proverbs 1:33)

We don’t have to search far to find examples of believers who trusted these promises but were allowed to go through remarkable hardships (e.g., Job) or were what we might call “prematurely” taken to Heaven in spite of that trust (e.g., Nate Saint, Tom & June Jackson). Does that negate the promises? Do they serve only as platitudes to repeat and “feel better” in times of trouble?

Not according to the life of the Apostle Paul, who faced more adversity than most of us have ever seen, yet said with bold assurance, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21).

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