It’s a part of the human condition that ultimately, we all fear something. From quiet, uneasy rumblings to devastating, life-altering phobias, we’ve all faced something at one point or another that has terrified us.
One of the greatest problems with fear is that it greatly hinders our effectiveness on God’s behalf in this world. This is something I myself have experienced in surges throughout my life, but especially since I was about seventeen years old, when my anxiety became a full-on disorder. Learning the truth about what fear IS and how to FACE IT have been key parts of my growing and maturing into adulthood, and I want to share with you five big steps I’ve found helpful in tackling my own fears.
May the help you, too!
1. Understand that God Loves You!
One of the greatest challenges that Christians face—and that stops nonbelievers from coming to a place of salvation—is the fear that God is angry with them. So many broken hearts remain enslaved to shame, unable to be set free because of a deep belief that God hates them. Some of the boldest steps to escaping the bondage of fear can be taken once we truly grasp that God loves us despite all our flaws, our faults, and our shortcomings. When we lay our trust in God, we’re able to set aside the fear that He is resentful, angry, or disgusted with us, and the peace that comes from that knowledge will allow us to dig deeper and unpack the rest of our fears.
2. Recognize What Fear Actually Is.
Fear is a visceral and chemical reaction to a perception of danger or discomfort. While it’s good to have a healthy respect for things such as snakes or spiders that can poison you, or for a shady block of the street where you shouldn’t walk at night, fear itself doesn’t equip you to face these things. In fact, fear can inhibit your ability to rationally face the things that endanger you! In short, fear can’t save you.
Thankfully, while we can’t control the circumstances that bring about fear, we can control fear itself by controlling our minds.
3. Embrace God’s Truth About Fear
It’s interesting that one of the first signs of sin nature having come to rest in the spirit of Adam was that he was afraid because he was naked, so he hid from God. Before the Fall of Man, Adam and Eve lived fearlessly among the lions and wolves. They spoke with God, unafraid. All of that changed when sin entered into the world; between the pages of Scripture there began a campaign, carried out by God from Abram all the way to Mary, from Hagar all the way to Samuel, and to all of Israel, to the disciples of Jesus, and to all of us now: “Do not be afraid,” God said. And later, through Christ, “God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness.” Fear hinders us from being effective witnesses and warriors for God; God knows this, and He’s equipped us to face fear through power, love, and ultimately, sound-mindedness.
4. Don’t Be Impressed by Fear
This was a lesson I learned from an account by Dave Meyer, husband of renowned Christian speaker Joyce Meyer. In it, Dave talks about his childhood and adolescent struggles with migraine headaches. He began to dread the first signs of the migraines—blurry vision—because he knew what followed. One day, at the onset of yet another migraine, he heard God clearly tell him, “Don’t be impressed by it.”
What a powerful lesson! When we give over to a sense of fear, what we’re really doing is allowing the idea of danger or harm to impress itself upon us. Like a wet, suffocating blanket, it smothers our rationality and occludes our common sense. But when the first tangles of fear start to weave into our minds, we have the choice to say, “I won’t fear this. I won’t let it impress me. I’m going to face this logically and respectfully and look for a solution.”
5. Face Fear Head-On
While facing the things that make us afraid isn’t always simple, facing fear itself is actually a straightforward process. Like a knight squaring up to an enemy army, we have the choice to meet the front lines of our dread, or to flee. When we choose to flee from that fear, we don’t conquer it, it conquers us. We cower from it, and that means the next time it comes back, it will inevitably have “grown” in our minds. On the other hand, when we choose to face fear and remind ourselves that this is a feeling, a thought that can be led captive in obedience to Christ, to the love of God, and to the truths He tells us about fear, we have a victory in our pocket that makes us bolder.
Through prayer, common sense, and the power and authority of the holy spirit in us, we are already equipped to face—and conquer—what we are terrified of. Brothers and sisters, it’s time to step forward and be brave!