“Whatever the means, the task of conquering fear is the most important in character-building and it will repay any effort. Not until it is done, and effectively, finally done, can the human soul take its proper place, rise to its God-given dominion, and progress to higher and yet higher planes of power.” – Orison Swett Marden
We have talked about fear before, describing it as a thief who steals not only your goods, but your future as well. But fear is not the kind of guy who gives up without a fight. Being stripped of one mask, he grabs a new one and sneaks in by another way. Any crevice will do, really. Like a cockroach, he will slither through a space that seems impermeable. Worst of all, for many of us, he has taken up residence in our hearts and minds with run-of-the-house privileges.
This is true for me. Like kids everywhere, I was raised by Nanny Fear.
It is said that babies are born with only two fears—heights and loud noises. If not innate, fear of abandonment must be learned early on. These first dreads were seized, capitalized and built upon by our parents and community to control us and to reduce their own anxiety about our possible demise. How many times must we have heard, “Be careful!” during our formative years? What new curiosity or adventure was not met with a barrage of warnings? When words of warning failed, the withdrawal of love and approval stepped in to fuel our fears of being left to fend for ourselves. After a while, we internalized all this caution and even passed it along to our own little ones.
Even without this early training, there is something inside of us that acts as the switch to activate the powers of this trickster. When Adam and Eve fell for the serpent’s lies and sinned against God, their sudden fall from perfection left its permanent mark on humanity. Anxiety, uncertainty, regret, disappointment, shame. It is hard to imagine the rush of new emotions that must have gripped them, but it was certainly the birth of fear.
Fear, in this context, can be described as an anticipation of separation from God. Though man fell from his place of perfection and was expelled from the Garden of Eden, the Bible tells a story not of our separation from God, but of His passionate pursuit of our restoration to our previous perfection and purpose and of our relationship with Him.
While it is an urban myth that the KJV Bible boasts 365 incidences of the phrase, “Fear not!”—one for every day of the year–that phrase still shows up many, many times and it is true that God’s Word speaks of fear, anxiety, and its related emotions more than 365 times. God tries to allay our fears by promising that He will care for us in many ways. Verses of the Bible tell us that He will keep us safe (Psalm 91), He will provide for our physical needs (Philippians 4:19), never leave us alone (Romans 8:38-39, Psalm 23:4), and never fail us (1 Corinthians 13:8). They describe Him as trustworthy and faithful (1 Thessalonians 5:24, Numbers 23:19), and unchanging (Hebrews 13:8, James 1:17).
Jesus came into the world as tangible proof of God’s love and character. He died on the Cross to secure our pardon (Romans 5:8-10). He rose from the grave as proof that it was done, once and for all (Hebrews 10:1-18).
The Holy Spirit was given to us to bear witness to God’s great love and presence in our lives. It was through His inspiration that the Apostle Paul wrote: “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31 NIV).
And still we are afraid.
I, for one, am done with it! God would not tell us so many times to “Fear Not!” if it were impossible. I do not expect this shift to be easy. I am realizing that fear and its counterparts are an integral part of my nature.
The Battle Plan
Know the Truth (John 8:32). This means look for and study verses about who God is and who I am in Christ and why I have no reason be afraid.
Let the Truth change my mind (Romans 12:2). Mediate on these scriptures until they chase the cockroach of fear from ALL the dark corners of my mind!
Resist the Lies (James 4:7). Become aware of the presence of fear in my life and refuse to bow to its demands.
If you are tired of being controlled and limited by this pernicious enemy, stay tuned! More help and updates to come. In the meantime, one verse to memorize:
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God: I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
Leave a comment if you, too, are done with fear!