One of the most common directives in the Bible is, “Don’t be afraid!” Do a search in your Bible app sometimes; in the King James version God says “Fear not!” over sixty times! God must take this seriously. No Fear Here!
A question from one of my readers this week illustrates how difficult this can be for some of us. Here’s the shortened version: “I’m afraid of getting/dying from cancer. I believe that what we fear will manifest in our lives (as with Job), so I don’t want to be afraid of this. But cancer seems so random. Almost anything can cause it. Thanks for sharing your wisdom.”
If you’ve seen someone die from cancer you don’t want that to happen to you or anyone else you love. Our fears can come from many places, and they can become paralyzing. Fear of sickness and death, fear of disaster or terrorism, fear of failing, fear of being inadequate, fear of emotional pain, fear of success, fear of what other people will do or think, fear of missing out on God’s best, fear of . . . It can make you afraid just thinking about it.
The verse from Job can make you even more afraid: “What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me.” (Job 3:25) Some have interpreted this verse to mean that if you fear something, that thing will happen to you. So you white-knuckle it in trying to not be afraid. “I’m not afraid. I’m not afraid. I’M NOT AFRAID!” And of course your mind keeps going there over and over again. It can be enough to drive you crazy.
Taking the Bible as a whole, I believe there is a better way to think about this. The way to get over fear is not to try to not be afraid. You already know that doesn’t work. So what’s the answer?
Don’t Be Afraid
Here are three things you can do that will help you become unafraid.
1. Learn what you can do, and then do it.
When Joshua was moaning and groaning about the sad state of affairs in which the Israelites found themselves, God said to him, “Get up off your face. There’s work to be done!” (See Joshua 7:10) Our human mind feels stronger when we focus on what is within our power to do, and then take action. And that’s often what God needs us to do.
For my reader friend, I shared with her that taking actions such as not smoking, eating healthy, exercising regularly, and maintaining a mutually monogamous sexual relationship will prevent the majority of cancers. You may not be able to change everything, but you can change many things.
If you’re afraid of illness, learn all you can about living healthy. If you’re afraid of what people will think, learn how to focus on running your own race rather than theirs. If you’re afraid of failure, learn to weigh the results of not trying – which may be greater than trying and “failing.”
And then take action!
2. Allow God’s love to fill you and cleanse you from fear.
You can’t get rid of fear by trying to push it away any more than you can chase darkness out of the room by “trying harder.” You must turn on the light. The way to get rid of any negative thought or feeling is to replace it with something bigger, stronger, more overwhelming. And that’s what love does to fear; it washes it away. “Perfect love casts out fear.” (1 John 4:18) And the stronger and more overwhelming the love, the more fear it washes away.
Love is not a one-time thing. Love involves relationship, time, going through things together. It’s that way with God. The more you spend time with Him, the more you know about Him, the more things He brings you through, the more His love becomes real to you. It’s not that He loves you more, but you become better able to know and experience His love.
If you’re struggling with fear, place your focus on getting in God’s presence. Share with Him your fears as well as your hopes and dreams. Be quiet and listen to Him respond to you. He is Love! The more you know Him, the more Love you will experience in your heart. And there will be no space in your heart for fear to remain.
3. Choose to let God have what you can’t control.
Some things we can’t do anything about no matter how hard we try. Realizing the limits of our control can be unnerving. But when we come to know the One who does have it all in control we learn we have no reason to fear.
This comes down to a matter of choosing to trust. When you’ve tried God out and found Him to be trustworthy, then you make the conscious choice to let Him remain in control of what you can’t change. Like Daniel’s 3 friends you can say, “I know God will deliver me. But even if not, I will serve and trust Him.” (See Daniel 3:17-18)
It takes time to learn to trust God, and thereby let go of your fear. Begin by choosing to trust Him with small things. Do what is in your power to do, and then pray, “Dear Lord, I can’t do any more. You’ve got this now.” And next time it will be easier to trust.
Don’t let fear remain in control. You can experience No Fear Here!
Your Turn: What has been the fear you have struggled most with? Has God made any difference for you with that fear? Leave a comment below.
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I’ve prepared a FREE resource guide Your 5-Part Prescription for Fear and Anxiety. It looks at the integrated way in which God made you and me – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And it provides practical ways in which you can begin living FREE from fear and anxiety right away.
Why don’t you get your FREE download, and begin taking your Prescription today?!