Recently, I got fed up with letting my emotions, fear in particular, get the best of me. But how does this keep happening? I thought that once I attained a certain invisible level in my Christian walk, then I wouldn’t have fear or anxiety or other emotions that do me no good. I know God can do all things. I’ve seen His miracles. I’ve experienced answered prayers. I’ve witnessed healings. But today, it seems that I’m just not sure God knows how to handle this.
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)
Have you noticed in this verse that fear is mentioned as a spirit, and one that God did not give to us? That means we get to choose what we listen to — the spirit of fear, or the Holy Spirit within us.
F.E.A.R. False Evidence Appearing Real. This is more true than we realize; most of what we fear never becomes reality. And lately, it seems the opposition is working overtime to distract and dismay and despair the children of God.
Fear also steals our miracles. Think about the story of Peter walking on water to Jesus (Matt. 14:25, 28-31). Peter sees the waves, the wind, and suddenly becomes afraid and lets the spirit of fear take over. People don’t usually remember this story as a day when God defied the laws of nature to cause a human to walk on water. (What a miracle, indeed!) We mostly remember and focus on the fact that Peter’s fear got the best of him. Hence, fear stole Peter’s miracle.
When we are fearful and afraid, we are unfocused and unbalanced. We are double-minded. How? Because part of our mind believes God’s promises, and the other part doubts them.
Every day, we have a choice to make. Will we live in fear, or live in faith?
We can also think of how this affects us in the natural sense. Fear elicits physical stress and tension on the body. If you’re reading this and just starting your day, take a minute to analyze how your body feels right now. Do I have a knot in my stomach about that upcoming work meeting, or am I fretting over a school project? Or am I relaxed and confident in how God will provide for me?
I discovered that I hold tension in the top of my stomach; if I realize I have a stomachache, that is a red flag to me that something is disrupting my peace, disturbing my spirit, and I have to figure out if that stress is valid or fear-based. Self-awareness is amazingly pertinent to learning more about ourselves and our knee-jerk reactions.
Impulsive Peter practically threw himself overboard with confidence, knowing that Jesus would help him walk on water, but his knee-jerk reaction was to take a look at his surroundings and say, “Wait a minute!” And then it was downhill from there.
Perhaps I only become fearful with job-related events, or with family related concerns, and not in other aspects of my life. We cannot afford to let fear rob us of our peace — natural or spiritual — in this life.
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but … against the rulers of the darkness of this world,” (Ephesians 6:12).
Fear steals God’s peace from our hearts and makes us think we are in control of uncontrollable situations. Fear tells us to put our trust everywhere else but in God. Fear steals our joy. But our joy comes from knowing God’s love for us and the hope of salvation, and that is an unshakeable truth.
I don’t have any children, but if I was a parent, I can imagine I would be incredibly sad if I had a child who didn’t trust me, didn’t lean on my support, didn’t want help to learn about life. I think this is how God feels when we don’t trust Him, when we take away His role as a Father to His children.
I love the words of Paul, speaking to Christians, reminding them of God’s promises for them with a wonderfully rhetorical question: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)
Many times in my life, I found myself downstairs in the laundry room with Mom, helping her fold clothes, and I remember rattling off how school or work was, sharing about the day. Most often, since Mom was a wealth of knowledge and good counsel, I would share about a problem or something concerning me. Mom would patiently listen to me fuss over a problem (something insignificant that wasn’t going to matter in a few days or weeks from then). When I was done, she, still folding laundry with a smile, would only have to rehearse to me one of our beloved family phrases, and it would turn my spirit around: “Erin, you are a child of the King. What do you have to fear?”
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.