I have observed how many people are fearful about all sorts of things. Fear imprisons, disheartens and puts hopelessness at the heart of life.
Fear can creep into our lives gradually or arrives without warning – a phone call or an unexpected medical result – and suddenly, fear can strike us like a physical blow.
We fear COVID-19 and the future. And if that’s not enough, we worry about being poisoned by genetically modified organisms, spied on by computers or listened to by Alexa. Science may have added more healthy years, but it has also added to our fears!
Fear is not just an unpleasant emotion, it’s a toxic one. It can be so powerful that it can overwhelm everything that normally rules our life; under fear people can throw away their hopes and dreams. Fear encourages a defensive mode of life: it builds walls rather than bridges and breeds suspicion. Fear may make us avoid doing what is right; we may shy away from challenges or opportunities.
We often hear people say ‘faith is stronger than fear’. There is some truth here, but it raises the obvious question of faith in what? Faith is not a force, only a means of applying a force. Like an electrical cable, faith has to be plugged into something for the power source.
In fact, the best way of tackling fear lies in our relationship with God. The cure for fear is faith in God. Faith in God liberates, empowers and gives us hope.
Let me offer three steps.
Seek a right relationship with God. The really important thing in life is knowing God himself. We need that personal relationship with God that the Bible tells us is only found by repenting of our sins, putting our faith in Jesus Christ and receiving his Holy Spirit into our lives. That life-changing decision gives us a totally new status: we become children of God. With the power of God within us, we need never fear the powers around us.
Sustain that right relationship with God. It’s all too easy for our relationship with God to weaken with time. We’ve all heard stories of insurance policies that were useless because the owner hadn’t renewed them, or bridges that collapsed because, unobserved, the steel inside the concrete had rusted away. Keep close to Christ in prayer, worship, read your Bible daily, stay in fellowship with other Christians and ‘keep in step with the Spirit’.
Stand on your relationship with God. Fear is an emotion that will yield to facts. The best defence against fear is to remind yourself who you are in Christ. Stand firm on such truths as being in the family of God, having the Holy Spirit, being destined for an eternity with God and being loved by a God who keeps his promises: ‘Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise’ (Hebrews 10:23 NLT). And we can go to those Bible verses on fear and use them with confidence of the reality that is ours in Jesus Christ. There are 365 ‘Do not be afraid’ verses in the Bible. Here are four:
- ‘This is my command – be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.’ (Joshua 1:9 NLT)
- ‘Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine.’ (Isaiah 43:1 NLT)
- ‘So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.’ (Luke 12:32 NLT)
- ‘I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.’ (John 14:27 NLT)
God doesn’t want his children defeated by fear. He has told us so. In concluding let me give you one last Bible verse to ponder: ‘For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline’ (2 Timothy 1:7 NLT).
That is my prayer for you today.
Grace and Peace
Revd Canon J.John