“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”
2 Timothy 1:7 NLT
As humans, it seems that we all experience fear on some level. Some of us more than others. Fear is engrained into our psyche early on. Some of us are learning to see fear as an opportunity which helps us to effectively deal fear. There are many, including myself at one point, who are struggling to keep up. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are bombarded with messages to “fear not” and our instagram feed broadcasts motivational messages of overcoming fear. Yet, I feel as though we have yet to fill in the practical space between what the Bible says about fear and what it really looks like to embody these messages in our day-to-day.
Recognize Our Calling
I believe it is valuable for us to take a step back for a minute from fear and look for a moment at what the Bible says about our calling as followers of Christ. As children of God we are called to several things. In his series titled Called, Pastor Craig Groeschel says that we are called to salvation, sanctification, and service(Galatians 5:13). Through this process of sanctification, we are being transformed, made holy, or set apart. Sanctification is God shaping and molding us to become more and more like Him.
Sanctification And Fear
Through sanctification, we learn to reject our behaviors, thoughts, and customs and to embrace what God is calling is toward. As we learn to address our fear, we start to see our day-to-day through a completely different lens. We begin to see that we can continue to bow to our fear or we can choose to respond in faith to our fear.
Hope For Chronic Anxiety
And while I fully appreciate just how challenging this can be for those who experience anxiety and fear on a chronic level, I also believe God is much bigger than our fears. I don’t say this to sound clever or to discount anxiety in any way, I say this because I believe God can and will work miracles. I understand that everyone’s journey with fear is different. Some might take longer than others and I do not want to imply that this is a quick fix. I do want to help you see that the situation that you dread most could very well be the battleground for God’s calling on your life.
“It Is What It Is”
In my personal journey with fear, I got fed up with living my life subject to my fear. I was tired of being a prisoner in my own life. I knew that God had a distinct calling on my life and my fear was keeping me from stepping into that calling. I was tired of people telling me this was the way it was and I should accept it. So when I speak about this, it is from a deeply personal experience. I knew there must be a better way, but no one could tell me what that looked like. I found that better way in James 1:2-4.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
James 1:2-4 NIV
A Change In Perspective
Every time we face fear is an opportunity. It is an opportunity to choose faith in God or choose our flesh. Our flesh ultimately wants control and it wants certainty. Neither is an option no matter what anyone tells you. Choosing to place your faith in God is choosing to trust in His goodness and His plan over our thoughts or circumstances. What we all need to realize is that choosing to put our faith in Christ is our best opportunity for certainty.
‘For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. ‘
‘For the sinful nature has its desire which is opposed to the Spirit, and the [desire of the] Spirit opposes the sinful nature; for these [two, the sinful nature and the Spirit] are in direct opposition to each other [continually in conflict], so that you [as believers] do not [always] do whatever [good things] you want to do. ‘
My Change In Perspective
Personally, I have spent a lot of time either avoiding or yielding to fear. While this is one way to live, it is by no means a way I want to spend the rest of my days. This yielding or avoiding fear did nothing to improve my situation. It only got worse and worse as I found myself always experiencing fluctuating levels of fear. My willingness to tolerate this kind of living is what kept me stuck. That and not knowing I had any other options. God showed me there are options if I am open to seeing them.
So What Do We Do?
Choose today to use your next moment of fear as an opportunity to trust in God rather than your flesh. Invite God into these small moments of opportunity and watch as God transforms you through these moments of fear. As you draw closer to God, you will find strength and victory over the fears which have held you captive.