It seems that everywhere I turn; someone is suffering from worries, fear and/or depression. Some are facing terrible challenges. People cannot
sleep; they cannot function. They have nagging, worrisome thoughts. There are Christians who cannot live life in faith because they are so consumed with fear. People are in fear over everything – their health, their jobs, their finances, their families, their pets, their future, etc.
For years I had a nagging fear that would pop up every now and then – that I would die at age 49 like my Dad did (when I was little). It wasn’t something that really interrupted my life; it would just rise up every so often and I would feel more apprehension as my 49th birthday approached. Like many people, I had other fears too, about my health, family, pets, etc.
The Bible says that fear has torment (1 John 4:18), and it is true. To be in constant fear and depression is not a healthy state of mind; it’s a joyless existence. People seem to either struggle against it but not know how to fight it, or they think that it is something they
just have to accept. They feel helpless, powerless. They start to think that this is what God has for them, or worse…that He doesn’t care. This is their lot in life, and it will always be this way. They rehearse the same thoughts, fears and problems over and over, which only digs them in deeper. They try to get up but it seems they get knocked down again. They feel their prayers are not answered. They begin to lose faith, and lose hope of ever having faith again.
As a human being and a Christian, it hurts when I see people suffering, whether it is strangers or animals or people I know. I have had my own challenges, losses and suffering too. I know what it’s like to feel buried in depression so black that you feel like you’re in quicksand and you can’t breathe. I know what it’s like to feel so despondent and so lost, like nothing will ever be good again; like everything is broken and nobody can fix it.
I have been there. If this is you, I want to give you hope because I have come a long way since then. Every negative thing in life can be overcome, healed and transformed by God.
KINDS OF FEAR
There are two kinds of fear. One is a normal, life-preserving fear that has a respect for danger. This is the kind of fear that prevents you from walking across a busy street or
intersection without first checking the traffic or cars speeding by; it causes you to look both ways to make sure it is safe to cross. When you put a pot on the stove and turn on the burner, you make sure your hand is not close to the fire so that you will not be burned. This is a healthy kind of fear that protects you.
There is another kind of fear that is not healthy and it is not life-preserving. It's the kind of fear that torments us; it causes us to live in high stress, lose sleep, affects our health, controls our thoughts and affects our behavior. It can make us feel that we don’t have control over our thoughts. It's the kind of fear that can tear away our faith in God as we take our eyes off of the Lord and focus on the object of our fear.
Look at Matthew 14:25-32:
“And in the fourth watch [between 3:00—6:00 a.m.] of the night, Jesus came to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified and said, “It is a ghost!” And they screamed out with fright. But instantly He spoke to them, saying, “Take courage! I Am! Stop being afraid!” And Peter answered Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” He [Jesus] said, “Come!’
So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water, and he came toward Jesus. But when he perceived and felt the strong wind and saw the waves, he was frightened, and as he began to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me from death!”
Instantly Jesus reached out His hand and caught and held him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.”
So here we see that Peter initially stepped out of the boat INTO the stormy waters in faith, but then as he switched his attention to the storm, he paid more attention to the wind and waves then he did to the Lord Jesus who had just bid him to come. Peter didn’t consider the fact that if the Lord had called him to come to Him, that he would certainly make it. Peter didn’t hold onto the truth that the Lord is good and has good intentions toward us. Rather, he allowed himself to be distracted by what he saw and heard around
Remember 1 Peter 5:8-9 warns us, “Be self-controlled and vigilant always, for your enemy the devil is always about, prowling like a lion roaring for its prey. Resist him, standing firm in your faith…” I also like the way the New Century Bible phrases this, “Control yourselves and be careful! The devil, your enemy, goes around like a roaring lion looking for someone to eat. Refuse to give in to him, by standing strong in your faith.”
So the devil goes about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. Get this – Satan is actively SEEKING. This is what predators do – they seek to separate their prey from the herd, as it were, to get them alone and vulnerable, frightened and confused. Do not become easy prey for the enemy. We need to build ourselves up in the Lord so that we are strong in the Lord. The Bible calls the Word of God the “Sword of the Spirit.” A sword is a weapon, and for us, the Word of God is part of our spiritual weapons. Arm yourself with the Sword of the Spirit, and learn to wield it under the influence of the Holy Spirit.
DON'T TAKE YOUR EYES OFF JESUS
You must realize that whenever you take your eyes off Jesus, and focus on your fear, you are giving more credence to something or someone’s ability to harm you than to Jesus’ ability to protect you, and this only causes you to be more susceptible to the object of your fear. You are giving power to the fear. You are essentially placing a negative faith in the object of your fear instead of a trusting faith in the God Who is for you and not against you.
Furthermore, as we focus on the object of our fear, it grows bigger and bigger the longer we stare at it until it has amassed a huge size in our eyes. Because we have given so much attention to it, suddenly it seems to be bigger than our God, and our faith shrivels and shrinks and becomes ineffective.
In the book of Numbers 13:1-33, we read how the Lord told Moses to send scouts ahead into the Promised Land (Canaan). Moses told the men to explore and see what the land is like, and whether the people there were strong or weak, few or many, and what the land was like. The men were gone for forty days. When they returned, they told Moses that the land was good but the people there were strong, and the cities large and fortified. They told of men there of great stature and courage… the Hittites, the Jebusites and the Amorites. Although Caleb told Moses, “we are well able to conquer it,” the other scouts said, “We are not able to go up against the people of Canaan, for they are stronger than we are,” and “all the people that we saw in it are men of great stature…there we saw the Nephilim [or giants], the sons of Anak…and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight…”
What are you “in your own sight?” Do you see yourself as a grasshopper in your life, threatened on all sides, able to be crushed?
If we are going to overcome our fear, we need to realize a few things.
1. Tormenting or agonizing fear does not come from God. 2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV) says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” The Amplified Bible explains this verse further, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but He has given us a spirit of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control.” Repeatedly in Scripture, God tells us to NOT fear or to NOT be afraid. In fact, go onto a site like www.biblegateway.com and do a search through Scripture on the phrases “Do not be afraid,” or “Do not fear,” or “Fear not.” You will be surprised at how many hits come up.
2. Remember that Jesus is always with us. In Matthew 28:20, He says, “And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age”. In Deuteronomy 31:6, the Lord says, “Be strong, courageous, and firm; fear not nor be in terror before them, for it is the Lord your God Who goes with you; He will not fail you or forsake you.”
My personal favorite is Hebrews 13:5 in the Amplified Bible which says, “for He God Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. I will not, I will not, I will not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let you down (relax My hold on you)! Assuredly not!"
If we can get a true revelation of the Lord’s Presence with us, and of His great love and grace toward us, then we don’t have to be afraid because we know that He will care for us and protect us.
3. God has chosen the way in which He works with us. He chose to work with us through our faith. We cooperate with Him by faith – just read through the Gospels for a start and carefully consider all the miraculous interactions Jesus had with the people He healed and delivered. We receive from Him by faith, initially for salvation (believing on Jesus) and then for anything else we need in life.
Too often, however, we give in to the things we see, feel and experience in the natural around us. Our attention focuses on the object of our fear instead of on the One who can deliver us from the object of our fear! God tells us over and over in Scripture not to fear, and yet we still give in to fear (myself included)! Many times depression walks hand in hand with fear, or is rooted in fear to some degree.
Fear is a powerful emotion that attacks everyone at some point. The greatest cure I have learned to overcome fear – the unhealthy, tormenting kind – is to both spend time with God in prayer – let His Spirit minister to you – and also feed your faith on the Word of God until fear is driven out. It sounds simple but most of what God tells us is simple; it is people who make things complicated.
1 John 4:18 tells us that “perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment.”
The NCV version clarifies by expressing it as, “Where God’s love is, there is no fear, because God’s perfect love drives out fear.”
4. We must feed our faith AND speak our faith. As you feed your faith on the Word of God, you get to know the Lord better.
Romans 10:17 says, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”
You build your faith. You learn that you can trust Him, you can believe Him, and you
can count on Him. The more you realize that you can trust Him with everything and anything, the less the devil will be able to torment you with fear.
When fear about something comes your way, you will be able to wave it off and say, “No thank you, I’m not accepting that. My Heavenly Father has already taken care of that situation. He’s got everything in hand.”
The Word of God speaks to us about every area of life. We need to read and learn from the Bible what God says about these areas and the different situations that arise so that we can learn to think and look at things the way our Heavenly Father does.
So, for example, if you’re dealing with fear about an illness or disease or pain that's attacking your body, then feed your faith on Scriptures that talk about healing. The more of God's Word on healing that you focus on and take into your spirit, the less fear you're going to have about your health, and the more healing you will see take place in your body.
If you are in fear about not being able to pay your bills, feed your faith on what God's Word says about His provision and on managing your finances. As you persist in study and acting on God's Word, your faith can grow, your circumstances will bow to the Name of Jesus, and fear over your finances and provision will be driven out.
I know because I have experienced this kind of deliverance across different areas of my life as I learned to focus my attention on God’s Word. Does it sound simple? Yes, it is simple. Is it easy? No, it is not because most of us were not taught and raised to apply God’s Word this way. Most of the teaching I and many others had growing up was a watered-down, powerless form of the Gospel that told us how bad we all were but didn’t really show us all that God had done for us and provided for us to make us victorious. We weren’t taught how to overcome. Even as a child, I remember thinking how alone and vulnerable I felt before God, and I wondered what was the point of all this religion. It seemed to be a life of constantly striving to be “good enough” and never knowing if you were.
Yet God did not give us His Word merely to have it sit on a bookshelf or coffee table somewhere, to be read only on Sundays, and even just to whip us into shape. His Word was not meant to hurt us or beat us down. He intended for it to instruct, guide and teach us in a spirit of love – not condemnation - and to transform us. God gave us His Word because He knew it was life-changing and transformative. He knew that we needed it to overcome in this world. His Word has power. The Bible says in Hebrews 4:12 that the Word of God is “alive and active” and “sharper than any double-edged sword.” This sword is part of the arsenal that Father God has given you for protection and to be a
conqueror through Christ Jesus. LEARN to use it.