Facing Fear in the Midst of Adversity
Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
Fear, along with intimidation, is one of the greatest weapons used to get someone to do what you want them to do. It has been used successfully in wars and in abusive relationships. People can react in different ways when faced with fear. They can go from one extreme of shutting down and not moving or they will go to the other extreme and run.
Fear is a normal emotion and can, in ways, be good for us when it causes us to be cautious in certain situations. However, fear can hinder us to the point of never allowing ourselves to move forward and can keep us isolated from other people. It can cause us not to trust others, even those we love, and stop us from seeking help.
2 Timothy 1:7 states:
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
God did not give us a fearful spirit. However, fear comes in when we are unable to control the circumstances surrounding us that cause us to feel threatened or in danger. We have all experienced fear, to a degree, in this capacity. We have felt that fear when finances were tight, something broke down and we did not have the money to repair it. We have felt fear when we lost a job and we didn’t know how we were going to feed our families and pay the bills. We have felt tremendous fear when someone has threatened our life, the lives of our family, friends, or job or has threatened to take something away from us that we need. Fear has grabbed a hold of us when the doctor’s report has come back with bad news. Fear has a way of barging in when we least expect it and when we do not want it too. It can loom over us, constantly giving us reminders that it’s there through the situations we are unable to fix or control. Fear seems to be the giant many people face on a daily basis and have no idea how to overcome it.
Fear is not an impossible giant to overcome. It takes trusting in a God who is bigger than any problem, situation or person and a renewing of our mind as stated in Romans 12:2. By trusting in God, He takes the weight of the battle from our shoulders and puts it on His shoulders. This doesn’t mean we won’t have to ever face fear, but it does mean that the battle of it will be less intense when we surrender the fear to Jesus. Surrendering takes a renewing of our minds and the way we think about our problems and situations. We can choose to think of them with fear or to remember that God is in control and that He will strengthen us and help us. A renewing of the mind takes practice by applying the Word of God. The one thing we cannot allow fear to do is isolate us from God and each other. Hebrews 10:25 states the following:
“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.“
There is much wisdom in these words. We can learn much about spiritual battle from observing a physical war on a battlefield. Soldiers work as a team and this is how we, as Christians, must work as well. When we are united, we receive strength not only from God but from each other simply by knowing the other person is there. Many people, even Christians, feel there is no need to attend church when they can worship from home. If that’s the case, how many wars have been won from staying in our homes and fighting a battle by ourselves as opposed to coming together as an army and battling the enemy together? How many wars have been won by one person? If we are to win this spiritual battle, we must learn to think strategically and realize there is strength in numbers. If we want to overcome fear, we must first trust in God and then we must trust each other and work together to help each other battle fear when it comes in troubling times through the power of prayer. There is no difference between physical battle and spiritual battle except in one you see your enemy and in the other you don’t. That doesn’t mean he isn’t there trying to take you down so you don’t win the race God has called you to be in. 1 Peter 5:8 states:
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
It has been said that soldiers standing shoulder to shoulder gained strength from close physical contact during war. We must apply this same technique when we are in spiritual battle as well. We must be by each other’s side, lifting each other up in prayer and to help each other be alert to the tactics of the enemy. It is not a time for isolation and worshiping alone. Here is an example: By the end of the Franco-Prussian War in 1871, fire and movement had largely replaced close-order tactics (where soldiers form a line, shoulder to shoulder, and battle). This meant that the battlefield became a much lonelier place. As long distance weapons required soldiers to disperse, it became hard to maintain an offensive spirit. Soldiers were less able to rely on each other or their leaders. Historian Joanna Burke notes that “the longer the feelings of isolation and confusion lasted, the less likely it was that anyone would act aggressively.” Spiritually, when we choose to be alone instead of gathering with other Christians, eventually our aggressive prayer life will decrease, and in strength, especially when troubling times hit us. Add to this the draining effect of the problem that can leave us mentally and physically exhausted from a lack of sleep due to worry, and you have a spiritual soldier who is incapable of continuing on in the spiritual battle. This is why it is important for a Christian to be a part of a church, for the prayer and support of the congregation and the spiritual guidance from the Pastor.
We may face many Goliaths in our time, but if we remember the frame of mind king David had when he was just a boy and he faced Goliath and defeated him, we will defeat all of the Goliaths in our life. When David was speaking to King Saul about going to fight Goliath, he said in 1 Samuel 17:37:
“The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”
David had no fear of fighting Goliath because he was used to fighting lions and bears to protect his sheep. He trusted in God to rescue him during his battles. David faced each battle knowing that God was with Him and was protecting Him, therefore he didn’t fear the “what ifs”. In 1 Samuel 17:45-47, David clearly states who his God is and that He (God) will win the battle for them:
David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”
By renewing our minds, we go from facing our situations with fear to facing them knowing that God is with us, will protect us and will rescue us. In the face of every fearful situation and problem, we must declare from the beginning, just as David did, that the battle is the Lord’s, He has already won the battle and He will receive the glory for it.
Do not allow fear to be your master. Make a choice today that God is in control of your life and tell fear to leave. Then walk in confidence knowing He will be with you, protect you and rescue you.