Author: Marlo Swanson, Guest Blogger for Foundations by ICM
Fear. Such a small word can have a massive impact on our lives. God has a lot to say about fear, addressing it over 365 times in the Bible. (Is it a coincidence that there are also 365 days in a year?) Out of all those verses, let’s look at a few that give us a greater insight into fear, how we can face it and fight it.
What is fear?
We all have a basic understanding of what fear is. It can be labeled anxiety, worry, dread, horror, panic, a phobia, or a plethora of other things besides fear, but what does the Bible say it is?
In 2 Timothy 1:7, it reads “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, and of love and of a sound mind” (NKJV). This verse declares that the spirit God gives us does not include fear. It also tells us that God did give us a spirit of love, power, and soundness of mind instead, which are in opposition to fear. It further tells us in our next verse in 1 John 4:18 that “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear…”(NKJV). So, fear is not in love and perfect love can get rid of fear. The verses right before this passage outline that God is love and those who abide in love, will live with and be accepted by Him. So, fear is not part of the spirit that God gives us, and His perfect love can cast it out.
So, how do we face fear?
Many verses tell us not to fear and then tell us that God will help, like these found in Isaiah 41:10 & 41:14 “Fear not for I am with you, be not dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand”(NKJV) and similarly “For I the Lord your God will hold your right hand, Saying to you, ‘Fear Not, I will help you” (NKJV). I love these verses because of the way they are written to us. In both, the God of the universe is instructing us as a good father does to the child he loves. A father may tell his son not to touch the hot burner so he doesn’t get burned, or tell his daughter not to run out in the street so she doesn’t get hit by a car. Good loving parents guide and instruct the children they love to try to teach and help them.
A parent has the experience and an outside perspective on life that a small child doesn’t have. God has the same kind of, bigger than what we can comprehend, perspective as well. But God doesn’t stop there. He isn’t just commanding us not to fear. He’s also giving us a promise in these verses. He will hold our hand and walk with us. Close your eyes and picture that for a moment. See Jesus holding your right hand and helping you in times of fear and worry. What a promise! We are not facing our fear alone! He is right there helping us.
How do we fight fear once we face it?
We don’t. I know that sounds crazy, but let me explain what I mean. We learned that perfect love casts out fear and God is perfect love. We have to remain or abide in Him and therefore in His love. How do we abide in Him? We trust God and seek Him. So eliminating fear in our lives isn’t as much fighting fear as it is trusting in and abiding in God’s love and asking for His help. Psalm 44:4 says “I sought the Lord and he heard me. He delivered me from all of my fears”(NKJV). We see that in this verse, God fought for and delivered him from his fear.
Now, we have a part to play here as well. If we are putting more of the world into us than God and His love, then that’s what is going to come out of us. Just like no one can survive on junk food and candy all the time, we can not subsist on TV shows, movies, TikToks, and our Facebook feed. The way we abide in God is to meditate on His words, which are His love story to us. When we do this, we allow His words to build up our faith and help us to trust in Him to guide and help us.
We can not read the Bible without seeing how much the Lord loves us. Jeremiah 29:11 is a perfect example of this: “For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me”(NLT). So, He has a plan for each of us and His plan is to prosper us and give us a hopeful future. The original Hebrew here for prosper is defined as completeness, soundness, welfare, peace, safety, quiet, and tranquility to name a few. Those all sound like the opposite of fear. When we pray to Him and seek to abide in Him, He is listening to us. His plan is to replace the fear coming against us and to give us His perfect love and peace instead.
We have learned that fear is real, and it comes at us through many different names. Regardless of how it manifests in our lives, to deal with it, we have to face it. But, the great news is we aren’t facing it alone. God promises to never leave our side and to help us. As we seek Him and ask for His help, we learn to abide in Him and His love. He delivers us from our fears by filling us with the only thing that can fight our fear for us: God’s perfect love.
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