Saturday, April 28, 2007

Battling Fear

Growing up I would occasionally watch the Peanuts cartoon, and one segment that sticks out clearly in my mind is when Lucy is trying to diagnose Charlie Brown’s reason for fear. As she sits at the booth, charging her gullible patrons for disorder diagnosis, poor Charlie receives the sad news—he has the fear of everything.

We all experience fear, some more than others. But whether we are prone to excessive fear, or rarely are faced with it, we still must admit that when it comes, it comes in full force.

“I’m afraid to be myself around him, what if he thinks I’m stupid?”

“I’m scared to go to youth group. What if the kids don’t like me?”

“I’m afraid to talk to my parents about my past, what if they are angry with me?”

“I’m afraid to go outside in my neighborhood. I don’t know my neighbors. What if they hurt me?”

Fear manifests itself in many forms. As these statements will attest, it ultimately stems from a disbelief in God. If we believed that God really is who He says He is, then we would have no reason to fear. Fear also can come from guilt over sin, which causes a fear of exposure (Genesis 3:10). We are fearful of being found out, our sin causes great fear.

We have allowed culture to tell us that our fears are simply a disorder that must be medicated and treated with therapy, when in actuality our fears must be dealt with at the Cross. There should be great fear in the one who is still under the judgment of God, but if we have been redeemed, God is on our side because of the blood of Jesus.

But we are not left without hope. The Word of God reminds us that, in Christ, we have nothing to fear. The entire chapter of Isaiah 41 is showing us that God is our strength. God is our shield.

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).

All of our fears, and primarily our fear when things aren’t going as we would hope, are rooted in our understanding, or misunderstanding, of our Creator. Not only does the Bible tell us not to fear man, or fear judgment, but the Bible also tells us to fear something far greater—God, Himself.

Proverbs 1:7 tells us “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.” Our only fear should be a fear of our Creator, a reverent fear that displays and magnifies His holiness. Any other fear places God below the thing that we fear most. It is essentially saying that God is not bigger than the thing that we fear.

So often we go about life as if we are orphans, as if we are not kept by the sovereign, omnipotent hand of God. God really does have the whole world in His hands, and He has your life too. Redemptive history shows us, in every page of Holy Scripture, that God keeps and orchestrates every event for our good and His glory. There is no cause for fear—only hope. We are always in need of more faith, more of Jesus (Matthew 6:31-34).

There are countless verses in Scripture that tell us not to fear. Why must we always be reminded of this truth? We are fearful people. We scare easily. We stress easily. But as I have been writing about godly women who hope in God, I am reminded of the fact that they had great cause to fear. For some of the women, there very lives were at stake, and for others, the outcome of their lives was very uncertain. So often our fears are so trivial (Will he like me? Will I get this job? Will I be accepted?), and yet we do not grasp the simple truths spelled out for us clearly in Scripture. Don’t despair, dear Christian, God hears your cries and He will deliver you—do not fear, hope in God. And as my toddlers have learned recently, Jesus is the Boss! (Matthew 23-27). In one utterance, He calmed the seas as the fearful disciples sat back in amazement. If the seas obey Him at one word, He truly does hold the power to work all circumstances out for good. Let this great truth guide your life and calm your fears.

“You shall not fear them, for it is the LORD your God who fights for you.” (Deuteronomy 3:22).

Here is a link to the Girl Talk blog. They have talked also on the topic of fear, and they do a much better, and more thorough, job than I.

(p.s. I figured out how to link things on my blog, actually Ellie did. But, nonetheless, I can link now.)

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