Do you struggle with how to overcome fear? Do your fears cause you shame? Do your fears lead you to doubt your faith in God? Have others insisted that you need to pray more, read more, or just pull up your own boot straps? What if you could use your fears to strengthen your trust in God?
The Power of Fear
One in four workers couldn’t get a job. Drought had devastated farmers, leaving gritty dust where they’d planted crops. Unable to pay for housing, hundreds of thousands of individuals and families found themselves homeless. The country appeared on the verge of total collapse. The United States had reached its lowest point in the Great Depression.
At this low point in the nation’s history, Franklin D. Roosevelt had been elected to his first term as President of the United States. In his inaugural address of 1933, FDR delivered this well-known line:
“We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”
Roosevelt understood this: Fear has the power to paralyze us, when we most need to act. Fear would have us retreat, when we need to advance forward.
Some of us are hard-wired for fear.
Some fears are rooted in previous experiences. We’ve been threatened, rejected or hurt. I’ve been there. How about you?
Some of us have experienced terrifying panic, heart-breaking disappointment, or mortifying embarrassment. Perhaps like me you’ve helplessly watched your child step into the path of danger. Maybe you’ve received a rejection letter for a job you desperately needed. Have you ever stepped onto a stage with your fly open? I’ve done that!
We fear of having those feelings again. So we avoid the locations or situations where those feelings were felt. For some of us this has resulted in avoiding things like close relationships, going outside, entering large buildings, or crossing bridges.
Other fears exist because we have a strong ability to imagine the worst. Fears of flying in a plane, fears of germs, or fears of public speaking tend to fall in this category.
Whatever the source of fear, when we let it overpower us it becomes like a ball and chain, or a prison without walls.
Powerful for the Powerless
The phrase “fear not” appears in the King James Version of the Bible 62 times.
In the Bible, commands to “fear not” usually come from God or one of His angels. Before Joshua led the Hebrews into battle against their enemies, God said, “Fear not,” (Joshua 8:1). When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary to announce that God had chosen her to be the mother of the Messiah, he said, “Fear not,” (Luke 1:10).
God knows fear is a problem for us. This is why God appeals to us to “fear not.”
God doesn’t condemn us for our fear. He wants to free us from it.
Every time God says, “Fear not,” He adds a promise to be there with us, to help us.
When God says, “Fear not,” it’s an invitation to trust, and grow our faith.
Fear takes hold when we feel powerless.
God invites us to rely on His power and not our own.
God gives us the power to overcome fear. Fear binds us to an ordinary life. While we may not easily eliminate fear, we can overcome it. Each fear that we overcome opens the door to something extraordinary.
1. Name your fear.
Sometimes when fear creeps up on us, the source of the fear isn’t obvious. When you feel afraid, identify what it is you’re afraid of. Name it. Write it down, if it helps. Say, “I’m afraid of ______________.”
2. Arm yourself with God’s promises.
Replace the armor of fear with the armor of God. Write down and become familiar with passages from the Bible that encourage you to lean on God. Read them aloud to yourself daily. To start with, here’s a great list of verses on overcoming fear.
3. Surrender your fear.
In many situations fear serves and important purpose. Fear of death helps us keep our eyes on the road so we don’t swerve our car across the center line or into a ditch. Fear of pain keeps us from putting our hand on a hot stove. But fears that hold us back from living, loving and leading can hold us hostage. Surrender these fears, one at a time. Give them to God with a simple prayer. Say, “God, please take this fear of _________ from me. I give it to you.” Keep praying it until you let go.
4. Imagine your success.
We have an amazing ability to influence our outcomes, simply by our imagination. Many people have a habit of imagining the worst. By doing this, we set ourselves up for failure. Set yourself up for success by imagining a successful outcome. Set yourself up for success. Visualize success in your mind–what it looks like, feels like, sounds like, smells like, and tastes like. Write it down in a simple, story form, with you as the main character.
5. Act out your new story.
We must exercise our faith to strengthen our faith. Using the success you imagined as a script, take your first steps. You may feel weak knees at first, but keep going. Pause to rest and catch your breath if you need to. When you’re ready, take a few more steps. But set your feet firmly in the direction you want to go, committed to going forward. Allow the story to change as you move forward into your new adventure. The story won’t unfold exactly as you imagined it. But whatever happens, always imagine the success that God promises. Keep exercising your faith, and it’ll grow.
Whenever we struggle with a fear that’s holding us back from fully enjoying life, it’s an opportunity to trust God and strengthen our faith.
Leave a comment below to share a fear God has helped you overcome. Or tell me about a fear you want overcome and how your life will be different when you conquer that fear.