Faith or Fear?
I came across a quote the other day by John Maxwell that said this:
“People who focus on their fears don’t grow. They become paralyzed.”
Although it is easy to tell ourselves we are not going to focus on our fears, it is equally as easy to give into fears whenever we face adversity, uncertainty or unexpected changes in our lives. Perhaps it is a loved one getting sick or a family member going through mental illness or a loss of a job or a struggle in marriage. We cannot always predict what will set off fear in our lives and we often feel like we cannot always control fear once it has made its home in our hearts and minds.
The question I have been asking myself lately, and perhaps you have asked too, is:
What difference does being a child of God make?
In this fear-based, fear-inducing world where there is no guarantee of health, safety and protection from danger, disease and disaster, what difference does it really make that we are people of faith? How can faith help us overcome our fears?
As a Christian life coach in training, I am learning some practical tools to help in overcoming fear that I’d like to share here:
1. Facing Our Fears. First, it is important to acknowledge that fear is a normal part of life. Perhaps that is why there are so many Bible verses telling us not to be troubled and afraid (see Joshua 1, Luke 1:30, John 14:27). We will never come to a place of overcoming all our fears, but we can learn to cope with them better when they come.
2. Naming Our Fears. Sometimes it is helpful to list out our fears one by one. If I am feeling particularly fearful about something, I’ll begin my quiet time listing them out in a journal and I picture “lifting them up” to God. Something about that helps me to release them and reminds me I am not alone and that God is there with me to help me deal with my fears. Some examples of naming our fears could be fear of:
- Looking stupid
- The unknown
- Getting older
- Losing a job
- Fears about confrontation
- Struggling to pay the bills
- Loss of health
What are some fears you are currently facing?
3. Using Our Fears for Motivation. By facing and naming our fears, instead of allowing them to paralyze us, we can use them to motivate us into action. For example, whenever I am feeling afraid, it propels me to seek God more than any other time. I know that He is the only one that can set me free from my fear. As Psalm 34:4 states:
“I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.”
Other ways our fears can motivate us into action are choosing to take steps to counter each fear. For example,
- If a loved one is sick, choose to appreciate them being here today and call them up on the phone to tell them.
- If you are struggling financially, brainstorm with a friend how you can increase your income.
- If you are facing unexpected change, write down three things that you can see as positive about this change.
- If you are feeling paralyzed by fear, pick a verse in Scripture to meditate on slowly until His peace floods your heart once again.
Fears, without a doubt, can be crippling. They are real. And life can certainly be scary at times. But the difference we can hold onto as children of God is that we have a Father in heaven who knows, sees, cares and will act on our behalf. We can go to Him in prayer and ask Him to help loosen the paralyzing grip of our fears by enabling us to live a 1 John 4:18 kind of life, which says:
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.”
Friend, whatever fears you and I are living with today, let’s be reminded that we can choose faith. When we do, peace, joy and freedom are ours in Christ.