What is fear? Is fear a bad thing? When we are afraid of something, there's often a good reason for it. I'm afraid to touch a fire, because it will burn me and hurt. I'm afraid to get too near to the edge of a cliff lest I lose my footing and plummet to my death. I think fear in instances like that is a helpful and healthy emotional response that we feel in order to maintain our own well being. But, like anything else, the good can be twisted very easily into something bad. What happens when we obsess over a fear? A legitimate fear of touching fire is different than an irrational fear of anything that has a flame. It's the irrational fears or even legitimate fears that we become fixated on -- and the anxiety and paralysis that often come with it -- that I think we are to get rid of.
Notice what the proverb calls out in particular -- have no fear of "sudden disaster". This is fear of a maybe, fear of a potential situation, the type of fear that can make you anxious and keep you up at night. The kind of fear that we don't need to have in our lives because God is with us.
"Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared." --Proverbs 3:26
But does that mean that just because we have God in our lives that nothing bad will ever happen to us? How come when I look around the world, that doesn't seem to be the case? I think the truth really hit home with me when I came across this verse in the Psalms, talking about the righteous (those who strive to do what is right).
The epiphany I had was that it said they will have no fear of bad news. It never says that bad news won't come. Only that we need not fear it. If our hearts are secure in the Lord, then nothing can shake us. Bad news may indeed come -- it does for all of us at one time or another. In a broken world, bad things happen to all of us -- maybe for a season, maybe to stay for the rest of our lives. But how you respond to it reveals your heart. Is your heart steadfast in times of trouble? I know mine often isn't. So how do we make that transition from understanding something intellectually (that God is our strength and our confidence and we need not fear anything but Him) to actually believing it in our hearts and living it out?
"They will have no fear of bad news;
their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord." --Psalm 112:7
Again, I turned to God's word, and found this passage that was very familiar to me:
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." -- Philippains 4:6-7Now, this gives us a couple of practical things to "do". I'm someone who is prone to worry and anxiety, and I often need the gentle reminder from my husband that that reaction to a situation does not reveal trust in God. In many ways fear really is the antithesis of trust, isn't it? I was reminded of this during -- you guessed it -- a Doctor Who episode where Danny Pink said it simply: "Fear a little bit less. Trust a bit more."
Trusting in God means turning that anxiety into a prayer, a petition, a request -- and a moment to focus on what we can be thankful for. There is always something to be thankful for, even in the midst of the worst. Take the time to find just one thing that you can thank God for. He promises his peace which transcends all understanding and it acts as a shield to protect our hearts and minds. I have been familiar with that passage for a long time and always thought that was the end of it. But oftentimes, I found fear and anxiety creeping back in. Frustrated by this, I had my second epiphany when I read on to the very next sentence and discovered what I consider to be part two of what we can do.
"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." --Ephesians 4:8If fixating on a problem or situation causes fear and anxiety, then fixating on what is good seems like a reasonable cure. Instead of worrying about what might happen, focus on the good that is right in front of you. If you fill your mind with what is true and right and lovely, you will leave no room for what is scary, bad and ugly. Bad habits need to be replaced with good ones. My challenge to myself is pause whenever I find myself in that state of fear or anxiety and go through steps one and two -- offering a prayer request, with thanksgiving, and finding something good and something true to focus my heart and mind on instead.
Living in fear is crippling. Living in faith is freeing. Faith means trusting in the goodness of God, even when the world is falling apart, and any good is hard to see. It is a steadfast heart in the midst of a storm. It is no fear.
For my 31st birthday, I decided to write down 31 of my favorite proverbs, or wise sayings from the Bible that I had been studying. This year, I am hoping to take a deeper dive into each of them and share some thoughts on them with you here.
Hi there! My name is Dana and I live in West Michigan with my husband, Tom and our dog Happy Gilmore. I created this space as a place to share the things I learn along this journey I call life. I work in marketing and I'm a sort of Jane of All Trades, interested in all things nature, gardening, cooking, exploring and learning new things. This blog is a conglomeration of my interests, hobbies, life and life lessons. Thanks for stopping by!