4 Ways to Fight against Fear
- Mary Southerland Journey Ministry, Inc
- 2021 25 Aug
Fear is a constant companion for many of us. We want our fear to be swallowed up by our faith, but it is often the other way around. Fear is paralyzing and can render us helpless. The problem is that we are looking in all the wrong places for help. Our help comes from God.
I know. Easy words to say but making them a reality is another thing. So how can we get a grip on fear? By making several powerful choices.
1. Choose to face our fear.
When dealing with fears, we must learn to face each one head-on - instead of trying to bury them alive. When we bury fears alive, they keep erupting when we least expect them to. But when we face each fear, drag it out into the light of God's promises, we can bury each one, and it stays dead. Fear can have no power over us unless we allow it to.
2 Timothy 1:7 (NCV) "God did not give us a spirit that makes us afraid but a spirit of power and love and self-control."
God never meant for his children to cower in fear. That is why Jesus came. Through Jesus Christ, God has furnished the power, he has given us the love, and he has provided the self-control to get a grip on fear.
1 John 4:18 (NCV) "Where God's love is, there is no fear, because God's perfect love drives out fear."
In this verse, "perfect" means "to complete." In other words, we are incomplete without God's love. We are not whole. There is a vast emptiness - and fear loves empty places - because those empty places become a home for fear until God's perfect love shows up and drives out that fear. The first choice we must make to get a grip on fear is to face it.
2. Choose to share our fear.
We cannot face our fear alone and expect to conquer it. God did not create us to carry any burden alone. He created us to need each other. Relationships are significant to him because so much of his nature is illustrated through the relationships in our lives.
Galatians 6:10 (NCV) "When we have the opportunity to help anyone, we should do it. But we should give special attention to those who are in the family of believers."
When Danna was a teenager, she came home from school in a terrible mood. It was evident she'd had a tough day. Her brother Jered was sitting at the kitchen table quietly doing his homework. I thought a few quiet minutes in her room might help. It didn't. Danna burst into the living room, threw herself on the couch, and wailed, "Nobody loves me! Everybody hates me!" Before I could offer Danna any support, I heard Jered calmly reply, "Danna, that is not true!"
For a split second, I was so proud of him since his sister delighted in finding and pushing every button her brother had. I should have known better, as Jered continued, "Seriously, I really don't think that's true … because some people don't even know you yet."
Some of us can turn to an earthly family for support, but many of us can't. However, when we are followers of Christ, we can always turn to the family of God for encouragement and support when we are afraid.
Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NLT) "A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken."
When a cord of rope is doubled, its strength is doubled. But when that same rope is tripled, it becomes ten times stronger. The same is true of friendship. The more you share your fear with friends, the weaker it becomes. Faith dilutes fear. So does friendship. I know what some of you are thinking. Friends have been the source of great pain in your life.
I once had a neighbor named Joyce who prided herself on her beautiful rose garden and won many awards. Since I can kill even artificial flowers, I loved watching her plant, prune, water, feed, and even talk to her roses. What I did not love was seeing the wounds the thorns inflicted, no matter what Joyce wore. Yet, she didn't seem to mind. When I asked her why she grew roses instead of some safer flower, she smiled and said, "The beauty of the rose is worth the occasional wound it inflicts."
Friendships are often like roses. They require a lot of work and will occasionally cause us pain. But that pain is a small price to pay for their beauty - especially when it comes to facing and dealing with fear.
Psalm 34:4 (NLT) "I prayed to the LORD, and he answered me, freeing me from all my fears."
Israel's warriors stood on a hill overlooking a battlefield. The Philistine champion Goliath swaggered out to frighten them. Goliath was not a small enemy! He stood nine feet tall, was clad in armor, and carried an iron spear.
I can hear the warriors now, "Do we look stupid? We're not going to fight Goliath!" I'm sure they thought nothing of the teenage boy, David, until he took one look at Goliath and said, "I'll fight him." Wouldn't you love to have been there that day? Those warriors must have looked at each other in total shock before replying, "Are you crazy? Look at the size of him!" And I am reasonably sure they did not expect David to respond. "Are you crazy? Look at the size of my God!" And that giant fell! Turn to God when you are afraid.
God allows, monitors, and uses fearful circumstances to strengthen our faith. He understands our fear and will deliver us. Sometimes God delivers us from that mountain. Sometimes he delivers in that storm. But he always delivers us.
3. Choose to walk through our fear.
Real courage is acting with fear - not without it.
Psalm 118:6 (NIV) "The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?"
Fear is a control issue. Its opposite is trust. We can take charge of our spirit and command it to trust God.
I read of a widow who had successfully raised a large family. She had six children and then adopted twelve others, but she never seemed to worry or be afraid. A reporter interviewing her asked the widow to reveal the secret of her peace. The woman smiled and said, "I'm not alone. I'm in a partnership. My partner is the Lord. Many years ago, I said, "Lord, I'll do the work if you'll do the worrying. And I've had peace ever since!" Getting control of our fear always demands some action on our part. It may be a desperate prayer or a step of blind faith. But make no mistake! God always honors a choice to walk through fear with him by our side.
4. Choose to guard against fear.
The best way to guard against fear is to get ready and stay ready to deal with it. Unfortunately, we are often barely keeping our balance on a spiritual tightrope. So, when disaster strikes, fear floods in, and we fall. How can we guard against fear?
First, remember the victories. Hebrews 13:8 (NIV) says, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever." The successes of yesterday are a hedge of protection in our lives today. We need to guard against fear by remembering the victories. If God did it once, he can and will do it again! Second, get rid of sin. Job 11:14-15 tells us to "Put away the sin that is in our hand; let no evil remain in your tent. Then you can lift up your face without shame, and you can stand strong without fear."
Sin is an open invitation to fear and a barrier to peace. Notice this passage talks about a sin that is in our hands. A cherished sin. A sin that we do not want to give up. When we refuse to give up sin, it becomes our master, and we become its slave. If Jesus is not Lord of all, he is not Lord at all. But when we "put away" our sin, we can stand firm in God's power without shame and fear. Third, train our minds. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 "We fight with weapons that are different from those the world uses. Our weapons have power from God that can destroy the enemy's strong places. We capture every thought and make it give up and obey Christ."
The mind is the battlefield of life for followers of Christ. "Take captive" is a military term that paints the picture of a guard standing watch over the mind. Someone has to assign that watch to that guard, an action that indicates a choice. The mind can become a toehold for Satan if it is not trained and guarded in the ways of God. Fear says our faith is not strong enough to face the mountain in front of us. Faith reminds us that God has already been where he is asking us to go. The most powerful way to train the mind is by filling it with Scripture.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV) "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."
We can train our minds to either live in fear or choose against fear. When we weave Scripture into our thought life, God takes that Scripture and begins to teach and thoroughly equip us to live each day in power and strength - without fear.
My husband and I have traveled worldwide, sharing what God has done in our lives. Dan is a pastor and has a heart for training church planters. I have a heart for women in ministry. Sometimes, our missions cross, and we can do an event together. Such was the case when we were invited to New Zealand. We had been asked to speak for two weeks with five days of vacation in the middle – all expenses paid! When Dan picked up the rental car, the attendant warned us about driving on the correct side of the road, totally opposite from the United States.
We finally got the hang of the driving on the opposite side of the road thing, but road signs made no sense at all - until I saw a sign at the entrance of a tunnel that was very clear. Ruts ahead. Choose yours carefully because you will be in it for the next 100 miles. That was over twenty years ago, but I can still see that sign so clearly in my mind, and its truth still rings true today. We need to be careful which ruts we choose to create in our minds. If you think the same thought repeatedly, it creates a rut or pattern of thinking in your brain. The only way to fill in that rut or change that pattern is through God's Word.
Every time the enemy brings a fearful thought to mind, reject it with one of God's promises you have memorized. God's word becomes a weapon available to the Holy Spirit when we memorize it. One of my favorite verses is a question, which I always find powerful in dealing with the enemy.
Get a grip on your fear by choosing to remember the victories, get rid of sin, and train your mind. We all battle fear, but we do not have to battle it alone.
Photo credit: ©Unsplash/Joice Kelly
Mary Southerland is also the Co-founder of Girlfriends in God, a conference and devotion ministry for women. Mary’s books include, Hope in the Midst of Depression, Sandpaper People, Escaping the Stress Trap, Experiencing God’s Power in Your Ministry, 10-Day Trust Adventure, You Make Me So Angry, How to Study the Bible, Fit for Life, Joy for the Journey, and Life Is So Daily. Mary relishes her ministry as a wife, a mother to their two children, Jered and Danna, and Mimi to her six grandchildren – Jaydan, Lelia, Justus, Hudson, Mo, and Nori.