The past week’s headline news paints a disturbing picture:
- Fires and looting in London creating fear and mayhem
- Iran (sworn enemy of the US and Israel) developing a nuclear bomb
- Thirty soldiers killed in a helicopter shoot-down
- Shock waves from a roller-coaster stock market (is a tsunamis coming?)
- A drop in financial “ratings” for US, France, Germany and others
- Continuing starvation in Somalia
- Massive joblessness in the US
- Tight-fistedness in the banking industry in spite of government bailout
- Gridlock in the US Congress regarding debt ceiling and budget balancing
- US foreclosure prediction, 1 in 3 homes by 2012
- Massive flooding, then drought across our nation’s south and mid-west
- Predictions of permanent deserts ahead in current U.S. drought areas
The fear network is alive and well on planet earth. And the enemy of our souls would like to keep us in a constant state of panic and anxiety, to drive us away from the shelter of our Heavenly Father’s arms, to damage our faith-walk with God, to destroy our peace.
While we can’t ignore the catastrophic events in the US and around the world, we have many encouraging words from a higher authority when it comes to dealing with fear.
49 times in the Old Testament and 17 in the New Testament we are told not to fear.
Is. 41:10 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.
There are things about fear that we learn from Scripture:
Fear is not from God
2 Tim. 1:7 for God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind;
We are not to fear as the world does
1 Peter 3:14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.”
Love combats fear
1 John. 4:18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.
A significant passage in Mark reveals a scene in which Jesus and the disciples are facing a serious storm on the lake:
Mark 4:35-41: As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” 36 So they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed). 37 But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water.
38 Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”
39 When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. 40 Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
After Jesus spoke to the wind, he spoke to his disciples: vs. 40 “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
What is Jesus saying?
Faith and Fear are mutually exclusive. So, how do we go from fear to faith? Here are five steps that I have found are successful combatants to fear:
1. Pray about it –
Phil. 4:6-7. 6 Do not be anxious [fearful] about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Most of us have yet to discover the power of believing prayer. ABC news a few nights ago shared the story of a young boy attending a beach party with his church who was swept out on a rip tide and could not get back to shore. He was underwater for 15 minutes before divers located him and brought him in to shore. He showed no vital signs. However, the moment he got in trouble with the waves, church members had dropped to their knees and began to pray. The boy was resuscitated and put on life support; he gained consciousness a short time later with no apparent permanent damage.
2. Turn your fearful thoughts over to Christ and rebuke fear.
2 Corinthians 10:3-5 3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
Fear is defined in 2 Timothy 1:7 as a spirit. Admit to God that you are up against fear, and in the authority of the Holy Spirit, rebuke that fear. Then ask the Lord to remove those thoughts that gave fear an in-road into your mind and emotions.
3. Change mental subjects – think about good things
Phil. 4:8-9 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
When we were kids we used to sit out on our porch in the dark of a summer night and tell ghost stories – the scarier the better. But walking alone to the outhouse in the dark after such sessions was terrifying; something fearful lurked in every shadow. We had set ourselves up for fear to take over our thoughts. I did not know as a child how to combat fear with faith.
4. Get God’s word in you and believe it – memorize Scriptures that counteract fear and speak them out.
5. Rely on the character of your heavenly Father. And remember:
- God is good
- God is love
- God loves you
- There is nothing too big for Him to handle
- He is the One who says, “Fear not for I am with you. . .”
So, how do you handle fear? Which of the five actions above do you most need to apply?
- Testing Your Peace (cornerstonediscipleship.wordpress.com)
- Is It Fear Or Love That Compels You? (newauthors.wordpress.com)
- If It Is You, Lord (obsecrations.wordpress.com)