I wonder how many of us let fear dictate our next move or lack thereof. How many of us allow fear to steal our joy and prevent us from enjoying the blessings God has given us? Maybe there are some of you, like me, that have missed opportunities to thrive because fear said it was unachievable. Fear is a lie and unlike other emotions it does not come from God. When God created humans, He created us in His image (Genesis 1:27). No where in scripture do we see fear as a part of God’s character/image. To the contrary we see God tell humans not to fear repeatedly, but rather to trust Him. In 2Timithoy 1:7 tells us God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love, and of a sound mind. So, if fear was not a natural part of the human character when God created us, then why is it so prevalent and why do we struggle with it so much?
My best guess takes me back to the Garden of Eden where the first two humans encountered fear. It wasn’t until after they ate of the forbidden fruit that they experienced fear. God came walking through the garden calling out to Adam and Adam stepped out from hiding and God asked him why he was hiding, and he said we were afraid (Genesis 3:10). When sin and death entered in, fear came with it as a packaged deal. There is good news for those that are sealed in the faith. Fear is not a death sentence we have to endure. We have freedom in Christ. Some may even say the cure from fear is faith. I know, easier said than done for many of us. Especially, if fear has controlled us most of our lives. It is difficult to set aside those old coping skills that have served a purpose for so long, survival. If you have worked with me you have likely heard me say survival is not a terrible thing, it’s better than the alternative. However, survival is not the goal- thriving and living a life of abundance is. So how do you know if fear is controlling you?
Avoid social events because you are afraid of being around other people?
Miss out on enjoying God’s creation because you are afraid? Ex: not going to the beach for fear of sharks, not traveling for fear of flying, not going on the water for fear of drowning, not visiting friends because you are afraid of their pets, etc.?
Not ask for promotions or raises because you are afraid of rejection or fear you aren’t worth it?
Have a difficult time saying no for fear of hurting someone’s feelings?
Not take risks for fear of failure?
Avoid putting yourself out there and making friends for fear of rejection or getting hurt?
Avoid doing new things for fear of the unknown?
Sit back and admire adventurous people but not go on your own adventures because you are afraid to do so?
Use your culture as an excuse? Ex: black people don’t do that, White people don’t do that etc.
Build up idols in your life because you don’t trust God to provide, protect, forgive, etc.? ex: rely on self rather than God, rely on bank account rather than God.
Often feel anxious and afraid, constantly worrying? Anxiety is fear based.
This list is far from exhaustive and hopefully, it has you doing an inner examination to determine if fear has taken the place of faith. A list of symptoms is pointless without some practical solutions. Therefore, here are some ways to replace fear with faith, peace, and joy.
Pray. Prayer is always a good first choice. Share your fears with God. Talk to Him about feelings of anxiety or what you are worried about. He really does care. For some simply praying can relieve stress and anxiety immediately.
Meditation. Philippians 4:8 tells us to meditate on these things whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is good, virtuous and praiseworthy. There is so much wisdom and truth in this scripture. Even “secular” psychology research supports this idea of being mindful and meditating on positive things. When we are focused on what is good our mind is no longer in a negative, fearful, anxious place.
Engage in activities you enjoy. Go for a walk, exercise, read, journal, etc.
Laugh. Laughter really is medicine for the soul. Watch a funny movie, talk to a friend that has embraced humor and freely shares it (we all know someone that is funny/clownish). Watch funny videos online or your favorite comedian.
Take a risk. Risky does NOT mean unsafe or unhealthy. Do something that scares you even if its just a little bit scary. Try something new that will challenge you.
Talk to a trusted friend or family member, pastor or counselor. When we are afraid or anxious we often develop a sense of tunnel vision. Talking to someone can help us see from different perspectives. You may even see that what you are so fearful of isn’t as scary as you think. In addition, by talking to someone you can allow her/him to encourage you and pray for you.
Read scriptures that affirm who you are in Christ. Scriptures that encourage you to face fear and overcome such as: Isaiah 35:4, John 14:27, Joshua 1:9, Matthew 6:34, Psalm 23:4, Psalm 34:4, Psalm 94:19, Romans 8:38-39, Psalm 27:1, and Psalm 118:6.
In summary, while we all struggle with fear at times we do not have to let it control us and prevent us from living our best life. I don’t know about you, but personally, I want God’s best plans for my life on earth to be realized in the present. That means I have to tap into Him as my source of joy and peace. It is the joy of the Lord that is our strength and the peace of the Lord that surpasses all understanding and allows us to face our fears and replace them with faith. With that, I leave you with this encouraging scripture. Be strong and of good courage -Deuteronomy 31:6.