“Historians will probably call our era ‘the age of anxiety.’ Anxiety is the natural result when our hopes are centered in anything short of God and His will for us.” These words are as relevant today as they were the day Billy Graham wrote them in 1965, no one knew how true they would be 55 years later.
At its worst, anxiety and fear is a crippling, taking over our minds and plunging our thoughts into darkness. At its best, fear and anxiety distracts us from our relationship with God and the truth that He is “Lord of heaven and earth” (Matthew 11:25).But God wants so much more for us than to walk through life full of fear, worry and anxiety.
When God created Adam and Eve it was His heart that they would never experience fear or anxiety, but when they disobeyed God in the garden, fear was experienced for the first time. When God sought after Adam for the purpose of reconciliation, Adam heard God’s voice, it was the first time a human being uttered these words, “I was afraid.” Unfortunately, since that time, those words are spoken daily.
How do we deal with our fears? We should respond to fear with hope and confidence in God. Fear is very real. But so is God, and He is greater and bigger than any fear you will ever have. There is no such thing as a fearless Christian because we are human and we will experience fear in some measure, but God has designed us to live by faith. We cannot let fear, terror, worry, and panic threaten to derail our faith and have anxiety takeover.
The best place to go when fear tries to grip our hearts is to the Bible. Philippians 4:4-8 teach us, step by step, how not to be scared or anxious all the time:
“I will rejoice in the Lord! I will say it again: rejoice!” Joy is a choice, and the first thing that fear does is rob us of our joy. The remainder of this passage will lead us to joy.
“The Lord is near.” Again, this is a result of fear, we lose sight that Christ is with us. Isaiah 41:10 assures us: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Christ lives in us! We are never alone.
“Be careful for nothing,” or another way to say it is, “Do not be anxious about anything.” This is not a suggestion this is actually an imperative, a command. Notice the Apostle Paul says “anything.” It is easy to say that but it is much more difficult to simply not fear. Paul knew that, so keep reading.
“But in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” We are to replace our fears with prayer. Prayer is a way we exercise our faith and put our fears in the Lord’s hands. Psalm 56:3 says, “What time I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” We have an open channel of communication with our Father in heaven to request His help, and an assurance He hears, sees and answers us according to His will.
“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” We cannot accomplish peace in our own power. Fear can be put at bay by remembering the peace we already have in Christ. He is faithful to remind us, calm us, and walk with us through every crisis, personal or national. When we are faithful to hand our fear over to God, He will set boundaries in our lives to protect and defend us.
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” Paul said earlier not to fear, but he is aware that removing fear from your mind is not enough. If we do not replace our fears they will come right back. Here is a list of positive, godly things that we must focus and meditate on.
If you are struggling with fear take a moment and pray this prayer, “Dear Heavenly Father, You are the fortress, shield and strength of my life. I refuse to be intimidated by any fear. I choose to make Christ as the Lord of my life. You are the only omnipotent, all-powerful, omnipresent God. You have not given me a spirit of fear. By your presence in my life I have power, love and a sound mind. You are with me right now. Your power enables me to live a life that will not be dominated by fear. You are our Protector, and you are my Peace. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
The writer is the pastor of Northtowne Church of God in Sidney.