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Facing our fears in a biblical way is not an easy task. There are many things that can pull us away from hoping in God. We are in a battle every day, a battle for our souls. In order to fight in this battle we need to be ready.
First, we need to know our Bibles. There are over 500 references to fear and anxiety in the Bible. Granted not all of these references are to sinful fear, in fact many of them say “fear not, I am with you.” The point is that the Bible is not void of help for us regarding our fears. Psalm 24:4 says that “even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.” Why does David have reason to fear no evil? Because God is with him. And in Psalm 34:4 David says again, “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” Here we learn that David’s fears are relieved because he sought the Lord and God answered his cry. David teaches us how to find relief from our fears—seek God and lean into him.
Psalm 91 is a beautiful Psalm about the protection afforded to the one who trusts God and makes him her resting place. In this particular Psalm we find promises that God will rescue us in the day of trouble and deliver us from all of our fears. Like so many other passages, David is specific about how God will protect him and deliver him in Psalm 91. David is honest about his fears, but also honest about how he handles his fears. These are just a few of the many references to our hope in times of fear. Read the Psalms. There is raw emotion in the Psalms. They are honest. But they are also hopeful. We see God in the Psalms—and we see his work.
Know the characters of the Bible. Know their lives. Know their stories. It is in their stories that you will see God working even in the midst of great difficulty, pain, and fear. Their stories are our stories if we are in Christ. The Bible is full of rich truths that can guide us and lead us in our quest for godliness. We are not abandoned. We have a God who will be near and who has promised to never leave us.
We need to know the God of the Bible—the one worthy of our hope. The Bible tells us who God is, and it is who is he is that should be a great comfort to us in our fears. Isaiah 35:4 says, “say to those who have an anxious heart, ‘Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God He will come and save you.”Recompense means repayment. This passage is saying that God will repay, God will work for his children. We can trust God because he loves us and cares for us. 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “for God has given us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” Here Paul is telling Timothy not to be fearful about his call to lead the church. Timothy was a young man, he was probably inexperienced at pastoring a congregation. So Paul is encouraging him to believe in Christ’s work in his life and believe that God has equipped him for everything he has called him to. God is not a heavy-handed deity weighing down his might on us. He loves us and has not given us to fear.
We can also trust God because he is sovereign over all things. Psalm 115:3 says “our God is in the heavens, he does all that he pleases.” Proverbs 20:24 says that a man’s steps are from the Lord. Philippians 4:19 says that “God will supply every need according to his riches in Christ Jesus.” God numbers our days, he directs our steps, and he guards our lives. He can be trusted with our fears.
Third, we need to confess our fears to God. Philippians 4:6 says “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God.” If he is a trustworthy and caring heavenly father like the Bible says, then he cares about our fears. He wants us to lean on him and hope in him when everything else gives way. We also need to understand that some of our fears are sin because they are unbelief in God’s promises for us. When we seek to control and manipulate, like Sarah did, we are acting out of unbelief in what he promised—and that is sin against him. We might need to confess not only for comfort but also in repentance for our lack of trust.
Fourth, and finally, we need to fear rightly. It might sound crazy after I have talked so much about not fearing. But the Bible does tell us that some fear is not sinful. In fact, it is commanded. Matthew 10:28-31 says, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” The Bible is full of commands to fear God. He is the only one we are to fear. But it is not like we typically think of fear. It is a freeing fear.
Author Carol Cornish describes the fear of the Lord this way:
“The fear of the Lord is a good kind of fear. When we faithfully fear God, all our lesser fears leave us. Christians have been delivered from a terror-type fear of the Lord because God has poured out his grace on us and forgiven our sins in Christ…fearing the Lord involves regarding him with the greatest respect and reverence because we know the greatness of his being. We hallow his name. We don’t live terrified of God but, instead we live delightedly awed by him and drawn to him in love and the deepest respect.”
When we fear God all other fears fall away. Because we know our Bibles, because we know who God is and how he cares for us, and because we confess our fears to him, we can lean on him and fear him rightly because he is a good and faithful God who only wants our good.
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