Fear manifests in many ways. It can come in sweaty hot flashes or uncontrollable trembling. Heartbeats race, chests tighten, butterflies upset stomachs. Immobilizing nausea and unquenchable thirst persists. However it manifests, fear is a real and present reality.
We fear death and the unknowns that surround it. We fear the future, unexpected changes, and losing control. We fear regretting a choice, so we are endlessly tossed to and fro in the stormy black water of indecision.
We pray against fear as God’s adopted children (Romans 8:15). We remind ourselves God has not given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, and of love, and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). We are not to supposed to fear – yet, it lingers, ready to rise in life’s unexpected moments.
One morning, my daughter’s school phoned me to confirm her absence that day, but I had dropped my six-year-old off at school that morning. They couldn’t find her.
In the few minutes it took for staff to confirm that she was, indeed, in her classroom (the teacher had marked the wrong student absent), time stood still. I experienced in one heartbeat how fast circumstances can change and how powerless we are to control our lives.
Did I really believe God was able to go with me into the dark places that every parent fears? Do I believe that He is committed to walking difficult roads with me, no matter how far, long, or painful it might be? Do I believe that His ways are right and that He is in control? That phone call raised fear and deep questions not easily answered.
Replace Unhealthy Fear with a Fear of God
Not all fear is bad. In fact, we are commanded to fear one thing and one thing only: God.
We fight unhealthy fears with a proactive decision to take every sinful thought captive and make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). We submit our fears to Scripture and remember that God will accomplish His purposes (Isaiah 46:8-11), and then we proactively put on the full armour of God (Ephesians 6:10-18).
We fight fear of the unknown by trusting the Lord to lead our steps as we seek Him (Proverbs 3:5-6). We bring everything to the Lord in prayer (Philippians 4:6-7), and welcome the peace of God that guards our heart and mind.
We remember that all our ordained days are written in God’s book of life before one of them came to be (Psalm 139:16). We remember that God always provides a way of escape from sinful temptations, even the temptation to fear (1 Corinthians 10:13).
How has that changed me? This homebody who dislikes travel and fears leaving her children is, right now, an ocean away in Haiti sharing the gospel. Fear will not rob me of the opportunity to be used by God. Fear will not drive my decisions. I have decided that the only fear to which I will submit is the fear of the Lord because it is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10).