There’s a lot of things to be scared of out there in the world.
Violence. Disease. Terrorism. Oppression.
How are we supposed to handle it?
When I was a little kid, I was scared of nearly everything.
Dogs. Storms. Adults. Other children.
As I grew older, I was scared of different things.
Home intruders, car accidents, and answering the phone.
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
1 John 4:18
According to this verse, the true opposite of love isn’t hate.
The opposite of love is fear.
What does that mean for us?
Fear of Losing Everything
Adopting a minimalist mindset has helped to free me from the fear of material loss.
We’re fortunate that almost everything we have has been given to us.
Freely you have received, freely give. (Matthew 10:8)
If it was all stolen or swept away by a natural disaster, I’d attempt to take it as a sign that we had too much to begin with.
Things can be replaced.
It’s simply a reminder that the most important things in life aren’t things.
In order to live fearlessly, my world can’t revolve around stuff…or even comfort.
Something else must center me.
Fear of Persecution
Ultimately if we are in God, we will fear nothing but God…
We should fear neither our enemies nor the slander and persecution that may come to us. We should trust in Jesus. He was also slandered and persecuted. We do not want anything better. If we turn in complete trust and love to Jesus, I feel absolutely sure that we will be kept under the loving protection of God.
J. Heinrich Arnold
Many Christians I know are afraid of persecution to some extent.
We may fear the threat of ISIS, we may fear nuclear war, or we may fear our own government.
But the Bible says we mustn’t fear these trials when they come.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
Facing persecution is part of living our faith out genuinely.
Persecution actually grows and strengthens the church.
Most of us have never had to choose between our life and our faith.
We’ve never had to put it all on the line.
Many of us are living comfortable lives, full of apathy.
We say we believe in the Bible, but our actions don’t reflect our beliefs.
I’m not saying I want persecution to come. But I would like to see the church to be proved genuine.
The fire will test the quality of each man’s work. (1 Corinthians 3:13)
I would like true believers to speak out and not be afraid of losing their life -and their comfort- for their faith.
I would like to see it without persecution.
But many of us -myself included- are neither hot nor cold.
We’ve become lukewarm and it’s a shame. (Revelations 3:16)
Fear for Our Children
Being a parent means there’s endless opportunities to be afraid.
From conception to birth, there’s fear about the pregnancy and delivery.
Afterward, there’s the fear of SIDS, closely followed by the fear of a trip to the ER once the baby is mobile and adventurous….and that’s before we get to all the crazy things grown kids do.
Then there’s the fear for their souls, hoping they’ll grow to know the Lord for themselves someday.
You know what?
I gave up on all those fears.
It wasn’t optional.
I simply had to.
I could drive myself insane with worry.
Part of loving my children well is entrusting them to God – their present, their future, and even their souls.
It’s been such a relief to hand those fears completely over.
There’s so much in life I can’t control.
Living free from fear requires a surrender.
When things are beyond my control, I simply must trust.
Fear of Disease, Disability, or Death
I do struggle with the fear of disease and disability.
I’ve seen what they can do to people and it is frightening.
But you know what’s just as bad?
A healthy life that’s hardly lived because it’s paralyzed by fear.
That’s possibly the worst disability there is.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.
If I believe those words, then I believe that even if disease or disability overtakes me someday, that God will use it to his glory.
I shouldn’t be disheartened by this possibility; I need to cling to that truth that whatever happens, God will use it – to change me, to change others, and to bring his kingdom on this earth.
And then there’s the fear of death.
Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
Our pastor once said something that really stuck with me: “You’re immortal until God is finished using you.”
The safest place to be is in the center of God’s plan.
We will all die eventually, whether it’s for our beliefs, for a greater purpose, or simply due to old age.
Does it really matter how I die?
Does it really matter when I die?
Isn’t what I’m living for most important?
While I hope I get to spend a long time here on this earth with my family, I’m not afraid if he takes me home before that.
This world is not my home. There is freedom in that.
If the worst thing that can happen on this earth is death, then overcoming the fear of death is overcoming the world.
In this world you will have trouble, but take heart. I have overcome the world.
The Ongoing Battle
I honestly believe that fear is a spiritual battle.
Satan is the ultimate terrorist – he wants to fill our hearts with fear above all else.
But we have the opportunity to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).
This means when a horrible image or imagined scenario enters my mind and causes me to fear, I immediately notice it and put it out.
I don’t dwell on it.
I don’t let it affect me other than the initial shock.
I used to have lots of scary dreams as a child, and sometimes I still have frightening visuals enter my mind.
What if I have a car accident with my kids in the car?
What if Josh gets hit on his bike ride to or from work?
Realizing that these images weren’t from God and that I had the power to send them away was liberating.
If I personally believe that Jesus defeated death on the cross, then that supersedes all other fears that might be lingering in my heart.
It’s not an overnight transformation, but it’s pretty incredible.
I strive to never make a decision out of fear.
It’s difficult, because fear is a great motivator.
But fear is the opposite of faith and trust.
Somehow God took this fearful little girl who I used to be, and over the course of time, removed those fears one by one.
Now I know that his strength and his spirit are within me.
All around you, people will be tiptoeing through life, just to arrive at death safely. But dear children, do not tiptoe. Run, hop, skip, or dance, just don’t tiptoe.
Most of us live in such fear of death that it’s as if no one really believes in resurrection anymore.
I have come to see that we Christians are not called to safety, but we are promised that God will be with us when we are in danger, and there is no better place to be than in the hands of God.
Perhaps the most dangerous place for a Christian to be is in safety and comfort.
Shane Claiborne, The Irresistible Revolution
Do you struggle in the area of fear? Does anxiety for the things you can’t control keep you up at night? Let’s talk about it. How can we surrender those fears over to God and find freedom?