All my life I have struggled with fear.
I’m not exaggerating.
I grew up in a home where my Dad was an alcoholic. I never knew what state he would come home in, or how my mum and I would deal with it each time. I loved my dad, but I lived in fear of the person he became when the alcohol kicked in and altered his personality.
As a teenager, I understood God’s love and grace more fully and the need for repentance. I trusted Jesus as Savior. Then I became extremely burdened for my dad’s soul. I was so fearful that he would die without trusting Christ.
It’s right, of course, to have deep concern for the salvation of our loved ones who do not yet know the Lord. That concern is what spurs us on to pray and share, in whatever way we can, the Good News of the Gospel.
Although I prayed fervently for my dad, I didn’t let go of the fear when he didn’t pick up his phone or when he didn’t come home. I would imagine all sorts of awful scenarios. I frequently lost sleep, was bound up by fear, and was ultimately robbed of peace.
My parents’ marriage eventually broke up. In the same year, when I was just nineteen years old, my mum was diagnosed with late stage cancer and died four weeks later. Thankfully, my mum had received Christ as Savior and Lord before she became ill. I saw her bear her illness and face death without fear because of the presence of Jesus, the assurance of eternal life, and the hope of Heaven that shone brightly in those difficult days.
Even with that assurance, I had something else to be anxious about and cause me to live fearfully. The pain, sorrow, and grief of such a deep loss caused me to dread the same thing happening to anyone else I loved dearly.
I’ve read countless books on the subject and listened to sermons telling me the opposite of fear is faith. Hearing those messages and seeing the state I was living in brought me guilt that my faith was weak. I wrestled with whether I had a lack of faith and wasn’t trusting God enough since I was, at times, consumed, preoccupied, and distracted by the fear of the “what ifs.”
The good news is, along with you, dear friend, I am on a journey of faith. I’m practicing taking every thought captive and discovering more and more of who our God is. I’m learning how firm, trustworthy, and precious His promises are in His Word, and how He is committed to working in us, teaching us to trust, and transforming us by His Spirit into the likeness of Jesus.
Perhaps your struggle with fear looks different from mine. Perhaps it’s anxiety over a loved one, fear of the loss of a job, a relationship, or bereavement. Are you afraid of becoming seriously ill, or of death, or the fear of what people think about you? Are you fearful of rejection, or the future due to financial pressures, or maybe it’s just plain fear of mice, spiders, heights, or flying?
Whatever it is, we have a Heavenly Father who knows and understands all our weaknesses and struggles. He is merciful, good, compassionate, patient, and tender-hearted. His Word is full of wisdom, comfort, and instruction of where we should go and what we should do when we battle with or feel overwhelmed by fear.
God’s Word is rich in grace, counsel, and guidance – spurring us on to take heart, not fear, be still, be strong, have courage, and not be anxious. So, we choose to fill our minds with truth, fix our eyes on Jesus, and be equipped by Him for whatever it is we face.
Listen to His Word to our hearts today –
“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you!
Don’t be frightened, for I am your God!
I strengthen you-
yes, I help you-
yes, I uphold you with my victorious right hand!”
– Isaiah 41:10
We do not need to fear because the all-powerful, sovereign, almighty God is for us and is Immanuel, God with us. He has promised to never leave us. Absolutely nothing will ever separate us from His great love or rob us of our future hope that we will live with Him forever.
I love this passage, not just for the reminder of who God is, that He’s with us and is our God, but also the assurance and guarantee of His help and strength. We can be sure that we are held up by Him, by His saving right hand. In the Old Testament, the imagery of God’s right hand was used to symbolize His power to deliver, protect, and save. He does not change, so His promises are the same for us today.
There are many terrible things happening right now around the world in which we live – wars, earthquakes, floods, famine – a lot of things which naturally would cause fear, especially for those who are caught up in the midst of such awful situations.
Where else can we go, except to God Himself and to His Word for courage and strength? We have a message of hope to share because of Jesus. He is the Prince of Peace and One who comes alongside His people in the darkness, in the terror, in the midst of the storm and says, “Have courage! It is I. Do not be afraid” (Matthew 14:27).
Choosing to “fear not” is an ongoing process in our lives. Thankfully, God is committed to the good work He began in us. He has not given us a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7) but has given us His Holy Spirit as our counselor, comforter, and guide. We have His Word, His unshakeable truth, and His great and precious promises to build our lives upon.
So, together with the psalmist, we can declare:
“God is our strong refuge;
he truly is our helper in times of trouble.
For this reason we do not fear…”
– Psalm 46:1-2
How comforting this truth must be for our persecuted brothers and sisters – millions of them across our world today, who live in fear of imprisonment, isolation, banishment from family, punishment from governments, or fear for their very lives. They daily make the costly choice to live set apart for Jesus because He is worth it all. The testimony of their faith strengthens mine.
As He is with them, so our God is with us, to strengthen and uphold, helping us to trust in Him and “fear not.”
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