I believe that at the heart of every unhealthy fear there is a question about God’s goodness. 1 John 4:18 tells us that perfect love expels fear. That is, when we know we are loved, we know we can trust that God has ultimate control, and that He will work all things out for our good (Rom. 8:28). For years, I was crippled by fear, because I did not understand the concept of his sovereignty. I acted as if He wasn’t paying attention, or like the disciples in the storm tossed boat mentioned in Mark 4:38, I thought he might not care that I was sinking.
The older I get the more I realize that God has a good agenda– even in our suffering. He has used awful circumstances in my life to bring about good that never would have happened without the bad happening first. When Jesus got up and calmed the storm for the disciples, he asked them why they were so afraid, and asked why (after all the miracles they had seen) they still had no faith. If you are a child of God, fear should not be status quo for you. It is the opposite of faith, and those are belong to Him are called to live by faith. Yes, the world is a hard place, and fearful things happen almost daily, but those who belong to Him should never give in to fear.
It is a choice that says “even though the storms of life are raging, I know He is in control and I can trust Him with my life. If He does not choose to immediately rescue when bad things to happen, He still has my best interest at heart and will use it for good.” This does not mean we don’t remove ourselves from danger or try to improve circumstances when we have the power to do so. However, it means we do not desperately grasp to control things we cannot control. We will all experience fear in life. The key is to learn to surrender it to God, so that He can replace it with faith. Paul admitted to the Corinthians that his visit to them had been characterized by “weakness and fear.” Yet, he went on to explain that this was so that their faith would be based on the power of God rather than the wisdom of men (1 Cor. 2:3-5). It is in our weakness that God’s power is best displayed (2 Cor. 12:9). This means that fear gives us an opportunity to proclaim His power. When we can say we were afraid, but still moved forward in faith, it shows the world it is His power rather than our own.
Are you struggling with fear? Perhaps you have received bad news from the doctor. Perhaps someone you love has rejected you. Perhaps you fear for a loved-one who is making bad decisions. Perhaps your fear is related to finances. Whatever it is, I urge you to surrender it to the One who loves you most. He knows the situation. It has not caught Him off guard. Even though your circumstances may be the result of sin, and not part of His perfect will for your life, He promises to use all things for your good.
Think about the story of Joseph in Genesis. He was captured by his brothers and sold into slavery, then falsely accused and unfairly imprisoned. He suffered undeserved consequences for decades, but he held on tightly to God. In the end, Joseph told his brothers that even though they intended their actions for harm, God intended them for good (Gen. 50:20). His circumstances were the result of sin, but God ultimately used them for good. In every fearful event of life we are faced with a choice. We will either focus on the goodness of God or we will focus on our negative circumstances . We always have the power to choose. Will you choose to trust in his goodness and love for you, or will you question his goodness and let fear rule you? Jesus told his disciples not to let their hearts be troubled or afraid (Jn. 14:27), but to believe (Jn. 14:1). Obviously, we can’t just turn off our emotions, but we can choose our response. When fear rolls in, choose to look to God in faith and confidence that his promises are true. Believe that He will use your circumstances for good, and you trust that He always has loving intentions towards you.
Psalm 56 has long been one of my favorites. Notice how the psalmist chooses to deal with his fear. I have recited these word many times as I have made the choice to believe rather than fear. If you are struggling with fear, I hope you will pray this psalm now.
Be merciful to me, O God, for man would swallow me up; Fighting all day he oppresses me. My enemies would hound me all day, For there are many who fight against me, O Most High. Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me? All day they twist my words; All their thoughts are against me for evil. They gather together, They hide, they mark my steps, When they lie in wait for my life. Shall they escape by iniquity? In anger cast down the peoples, O God! You number my wanderings; Put my tears into Your bottle; Are they not in Your book? When I cry out to You, Then my enemies will turn back; This I know, because God is for me. In God (I will praise His word), In the Lord (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? Vows made to You are binding upon me, O God; I will render praises to You, For You have delivered my soul from death. Have You not kept my feet from falling, That I may walk before God In the light of the living? For further study see: Psalms 23, 27, 34 & 46, Isaiah 41:10, 51:12-14, Romans 8:15, Hebrews 13:6