Fear is something we each encounter from time to time. The question we confront is how to deal with fear when it comes.
Some people are disabled by fear, locked up and limiting their life, based on their fears. I have met people with deep fears of water, spiders, birds, the dark, flying and the devil. Crossing the Mississippi River by train one time I talked with a woman who kept her eyes shut tight until we were over the river. She made the trip regularly but was terrified each time.
At times I have felt ill at the prospect of facing a tough challenge. I have also had my hands shaking in some tense moments. From my experience there is nothing nice about fear.
The Bible agrees, saying that fear is a tormentor.
“Fear brings torment. He who fears has not been made perfect in love.” 1John 4:18
That verse suggests it is a bad sign if we have fear.
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear brings torment. He who fears has not been made perfect in love.” 1John 4:18
From practical experience I suggest that it is normal to feel pangs of fear at times, when some unpleasant prospect faces us. However, what we are to do is deal with the fear in a godly manner.
King David was a fearless fighter, who ran to face giant Goliath when he was just a lad. He had already taken on a lion and a bear, and he went on to be a bold soldier and commander. Yet David faced fear from time to time.
What is significant is what David did when he was faced with fear.
“When I am afraid, I put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise. In God I put my trust. I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” Psalm 56:3,4
“In my distress I called on the Lord and cried to my God for help.” Psalm 18:6
So David had a response he employed “When I Am Afraid”.
David did not try to pretend he wasn’t afraid, but he recognised his need to put his trust in God in all such situations.
So we see in the Bible two separate messages about fear. One is about being free from fear, because God’s perfect love expels fear from our lives. The other is about a strategy for dealing with those moments when we are confronted by something fearful.
Let’s look at becoming free from fears.
Perfect love expels fear. God, who is perfect love, dwells within us. So we should expect that no fears can live within us.
Deep seated fears gain entry to our life, with ideas in our mind, emotional responses and physical evidence. The entry may be from a shock, where we felt very vulnerable. Or fears may come in from ideas put into our head.
My young sons had a fear sown into them by another lad who told them scary stories about hideous things hiding under the house. The ideas and images in their mind became a nest for fear to settle in.
In their case I decided to take them under the house and show them there was nothing there. I also had them pray and break the power of the scary ideas sown into them. I then rebuked the fear that wanted to get a foothold in their life.
Each time one of the children had a fear emerge in their life, through nightmares, fear of doing something, or the like, I would explore where the fear came from and pray with them to break the lies and ideas placed into them.
Some people are gripped very strongly by fear. They can almost have a fit or faint in the face of their fears. Uncontrollable screaming, terror, irrational responses and such things indicate a deeply rooted fear. We have authority in Jesus’ name to beat such evil things.
“Behold, I give you power (and authority) to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing will by any means hurt you.” Luke 10:19
“Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7
“Perfect love casts out fear” 1John 4:18
For such cases I refer to the Steps to Release which I have shared elsewhere, helping a person identify where and how fear entered their life, then repenting, forgiving and renouncing the fear package. That removes any legal right for fear to stay there. Then resisting and expelling it from their life.
That then leaves each of us, while free from fears within, still facing fear reactions from time to time. These are not evidence of fear controlling us, but just coming against us as we face a fearful situation.
That’s when David’s approach is important. We need to put our trust in the Lord, finding strength and comfort in Him.
At the same time we throw the problem, that fearful prospect, onto the Lord, because He cares for us.
“Cast all your care onto Him, because He cares for you.” 1Peter 5:7
In purely natural terms we find that we are nervous about new things or areas where we feel insecure. As we step into those things and get practice with them they cease to be scary. That includes such things as driving a car, performing in public, doing tests, breaking the ice with new situations, dealing with the public, and the like.
God is ready to coach and train us for these challenges.
“He teaches my hands to do warfare, so a bronze bow is broken by mine arms.” Psalm 18:34
“Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle.” Psalm 144:1
May the Lord give you victory over fear and give you wisdom, so you can say, “I now know what to do … When I Am Afraid.”