How to Overcome Your Constant Fear
- Meg Bucher Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2019 1 Aug
There are many levels of fear in our daily lives. News alerts keep us in tune to the world’s pain and injustice on the hour, and rising statistics of child trafficking put parents on edge. Fear “has a wonderful, protective benefit for us when it functions as God designed it,” said Jon Bloom in this article. Some fears are easy to calm and others linger longer than we can control. Fear, terror, fright, alarm, worry, and panic threaten to derail our faith and have anxiety takeover. On the contrary, the Bible tells us to take captive every thought, and trust God. “We live in a broken world where really bad things really do happen, even (and sometimes especially) to people who really love Jesus,” explains Kristin Tabb. How do we live with godly confidence in a society that has us running scared?
What does it mean to struggle with fear?
John Piper says that “fear is a manifestation of pride,” is his article for Desiring God. It is a lack of trust in God, our Protector, Defender, Provider and Healer. Pride isn’t only a puffed-up sense of misplaced confidence, it’s also doubting who God made us to be, and who He is. It’s scary, how deceptive being scared can be! Anxiety, a branch of fear, is “an intense desire for something, accompanied by a fear of the consequences of not receiving it,” said John Piper in this article.
“What you fear the most may be exactly where Satan is targeting you most,” writes Marshal Segal, “He preys on insecurity, anxiety, and distress. He pours gasoline on the lies of our fears.” Fear can run much deeper than a phobia or startle, causing us to forget where our faith lies. “Fear exists because sin has broken this world and distorted it, leaving much beyond our control,” writes Kristen Tabb, “We are finite creatures, and fear has become part of our makeup.”
What does the Bible say about fear and anxiety?
Paul and Jesus explicitly command us not to be anxious. Not all anxiety is sinful, but the Gospel Coalition's Joe Carter helpfully explains that anxiety can be a sinful response to God's care. Regardless of whether or not our anxiety has sinful roots, we know where to direct our fears. Psalm 56:3 says, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” We have not failed in faith when we experience fear. The Bible says we will be afraid, and we will have trials. Life isn’t going to be easy on earth, especially for followers of Christ. But Isaiah 41:10 assures us: “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.”
In Christ, the Holy Spirit of the Living God lives in us. When we are afraid, we don’t have tostay afraid. Matthew 6:25 says, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life.” Fear can be acknowledged, and then handed over to our great God who protects and upholds us. “And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life?” (Matthew 6:27). The battle of spiritual warfare rages on, but by God’s word and through prayer for His perspective we can choose to trust that if He says not to fear, we don’t need to be afraid.
Click here for more verses about fear.
How should Christians respond to fear?
As Christians, we should respond to fear with hope and confidence in God. Fear is very real. But so is God. And He is bigger. “There is no such thing as a fearless Christian,” writes John Bloom. “God designed us to experience fear, in some measure, because he designed us to live by faith.” A healthy fear of God fuels our faith. We can respond to fear by redirecting what is scaring us to align with God’s word. When struggling with fear and anxiety that seems to consume our lives, Philippians 4:4-7 provides a way to break the cycle. Praying into and studying these verses can help us to adopt a better perspective of fear:
“I will rejoice in the Lord! I will say it again: rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, with transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds.”
These verses teach us, step by step, how not to be scared or anxious all the time:
- “I will rejoice in the Lord! I will say it again: rejoice!” By remembering who God is, we are already on our way to putting our fears in alignment with His word.
- “The Lord is near.” He is not far off, but close! God’s heart is moved by our prayers. Christ lives in us! We are never alone.
- “Do not be anxious about anything,” Prayerfully list every fear and anxiety we need to lift up and out of our thoughts and into God’s hands.
- “but in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving” No matter what gnaws our nerves, we can be grateful to God. Gratitude relieves fear and anxiety.
- “present your requests to God.” We often rely on daily news alerts to set our status quo, run to other people for reassurance, or allow scary statistics to hijack our peace. We have an open channel of communication with our Father in heaven to request His help, and an assurance He hears, sees and answers us according to His will.
- “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds.” We cannot accomplish peace on our own power. Fear can be put at bay by remembering the peace we already have in Christ. He is faithful to remind us, calm us, and walk with us through every scary storm. When we are faithful to hand our anxieties and iniquities over to God, He will set boundaries in our lives to protect and defend us.
3 ways to overcome fear and anxiety when it hits:
Pray for God to reveal His Word and apply it practically to each day’s scary highlight real. Pray verses of Scripture as personal prayers. For example:
I rejoice in You, Father! I rejoice in You, Jesus! Let my gentleness be evident to all for You are near. I will not be anxious about anything (list specific anxieties) but in all things through prayer and petition with thanksgiving (tell God what you are thankful for) present my requests to You, Father (pray and pour out requests for help and blessing from God). And Your peace, which transcends all understanding, will guard my heart and my mind in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:4-7).
Read and Remember
Sometimes God feels far from us in trials because we have put ourselves out of earshot from his word, writes Marshall Segal. In order to understand who God is we have to know His Truth. Reading the Bible is paramount in the fight against fear. Psalm 119 is a wonderful place to remind ourselves who God is. “When it comes to hope in the midst of struggle, God calls us to be a remembering people,” writes Dave Radford in this article. Remembering who God is puts our fears in perspective. His hand on our lives reminds us of His faithfulness. Recall answered prayers. Revisit His deliverance from hard seasons.
Breathe in deeply, imagining the “YAH” in Yahweh. Push all breath back out while envisioning the “WEH” of Yahweh. The literal translation of Yahweh is akin to calling God “Daddy.” When we’re young children, we cry out for our early caregivers when we are scared. Our heavenly Father is ready to calm every anxious fear of our grown and growing hearts, if only we will cry out and submit them completely to Him. Every breath comes from God. He is aware and with us through every rising and falling of the lungs in our chests. He has numbered our days and purposed us to shine bright for His kingdom.
Fear can pull the rug of our faith right out from underneath our feet. We will be scared, anxious, and afraid in this life. But Christ died so we could live life to the full. Embrace the free life from sin that Christ gave us through the cross. We are no longer slaves to sin or to fear. We are free children of God. Christ lives in us. Don’t pick up the old scared self. Live in the new creation and choose to submit the scary stuff to our sovereign God.
A prayer for when you're feeling anxiety and fear rise
Search my heart, so the only fear I have is out of reverence for Your majestic and sovereign hand in my life. Forgive me for being scared. Forgive my unbelief! You are bigger than anything I could fear, and faithful to remind me and forgive me. Great is Your faithfulness, God. Calm me, one breath at a time. Yahweh.
In Jesus’ Name,
Photo credit: Unsplash/Johannes Plenio
Meg writes about everyday life within the love of Christ. She stepped out of her comfort zone, and her Marketing career, to obey God’s call to stay home and be “Mom” in 2011. From that step of obedience her blog, Sunny&80, was born, a way to retain the funny everyday moments of motherhood. (https://sunnyand80.org) Meg is also a freelance writer and author of “Friends with Everyone.” She loves teaching God’s Word and leading weekly Bible study, being a mom, distance running and photography. Meg resides in Northern Ohio with her husband, two daughters, and Golden-Doodle … all avid Cleveland Browns fans.