Taking the Fear out of Fear Itself

A View of the Guiding Light in a World of Darkness is a weekly devotional that seeks to apply Biblical principles to our everyday lives, written by inspirational speaker, Jeremy Curry.

Jeremiah 17:5-8

This is what the Lord says:

“Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
who draws strength from mere flesh
and whose heart turns away from the Lord.
That person will be like a bush in the wastelands;
they will not see prosperity when it comes.
They will dwell in the parched places of the desert,
in a salt land where no one lives.

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”

If Jeremiah had written this passage today, I am certain he would have written it after watching an awesome episode of Doomsday Preppers.  If you haven’t seen the television show, it is about people preparing for anything from economic collapse to earthquakes to meteors hitting the Earth.  They put together a bunch of preparations, including food storage, water storage, weapons, advanced security plans, and even travel plans to “bug out” in case something happens.  I’m not saying there is anything wrong with being prepared for emergencies, but what I am saying is that while each show is different, all of the people who are prepping have one thing in common:  fear.  They are all afraid of something, and that fear has them preparing to deal with it.  Many times, it consumes each dollar they have and every second of their lives.  On their death bed, if the fear never materialized, I wonder if they would spend their life doing the same thing if they were able to have a “do-over?”  Or, would they feel they wasted their life with fear?  I think if Jeremiah were alive today, he’d probably give them the exact same advice he does in our passage: Trust the Lord and have confidence in Him because you will then have no fear or worry.

Remember Y2K?  Yeah, I didn’t either until I got to thinking about what we do when we are fearful, just like some of the preppers on the show are working to take action against their biggest fear.  For several years before the turn of the century, everyone was stocking up on everything from toilet paper to gasoline and when the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Day, guess what? Nothing happened.  When we do things out of fear, we often make wrong decisions, including wasting both time and money.  Remembering that God is in control (and that we are not) can reduce our fears, and ultimately, eliminate them altogether.

While you may not be someone hoarding goods for the next zombie apocalypse, what is your fear?  Are you afraid that something will happen to your children?  Afraid you will fail?  Afraid you will make others angry?  Afraid someone will hurt you?  Maybe your fear is that no one cares about you?  Or, are you afraid your health will fail?  Perhaps you are not in a persistent paralyzed state of fear, but you are always worrying about something.  Notice how Jeremiah deals with that aspect, too.  That is, he not only deals with fear, but he deals with worry.  If you have nothing to fear, then you have nothing to worry about.  In logical, consecutive order, he handles the fear first and then the worry, because overcoming the fear will cause the worry to cease.

If overcoming our fear is the main issue, how do we defeat the fear that plagues our minds?  Jeremiah tells us that we can prevail over fear if we trust in the Lord and have confidence in Him.  I wonder how much fear little David had when he went up against the giant, Goliath?  Beth Moore says it best when she said, “We should remember to measure the size of our obstacles against the size of our God.  We tend to measure our obstacles with our own strength.  No giant will ever be a match for a big God with a little rock.”  When you stop and think about how big our God is who created the entire universe, what is there to fear?  And, if there is nothing to fear, what is there to worry about?  Whatever your fear, God will see you through it.  He is and always will be bigger than any fear that you can fathom.

A good friend of mine contends that “fear” really stands for False Evidence Appearing Real.  Sometimes the size of our obstacle makes it falsely appear that our fears are justified.  Consider this:

1 Samuel 17:23-24

23 As he was talking with them, Goliath, the Philistine champion from Gath, stepped out from his lines and shouted his usual defiance, and David heard it. 24 Whenever the Israelites saw the man, they all fled from him in great fear.

An entire army fled from just seeing one man. He didn’t even have to do anything.  They literally bolted in fear when they saw him.  If we act like the Israelites did and we continue to fear, we will never move forward.  David, probably only about 15 years old at the time, takes off his armor because he wasn’t used to it, picked up his 5 smooth stones and slays the giant that had scared off an entire army.  What would have happened if he let fear overtake him?  Rather than let fear persuade him to run away, David, the man after God’s own heart, knew that he had a big God . . .bigger than any giant.  Let me ask you; how big is your God?

Years ago, after I was diagnosed with a genetic eye condition and told that I was going to lose all of my sight, I remember going through a long stage of fear.  Questions filled my mind like, “Who would marry a blind man?  How will I ever find a job?  How could people love someone who can’t see?  Will my friends still want to be around me?”  I’ve been happily married for over 12 years now, I’ve never been without a job, and I have some of the best friends one could ever possibly hope for.  They would do anything for me, and I would do anything for them.  I didn’t need to fear and I didn’t need to worry.  Just like you, I’m not perfect.  We all have fears at times.

Remember being afraid of the dark when you were a child?  It wasn’t the blackness that you were afraid of, it was what could lie within the things you couldn’t see . . . the unknown.  These same fears may still haunt us today.  Maybe you’re afraid of what is in the dark, or maybe you are simply afraid of what you cannot see in your future?  Think back on your life.  Of all of the fears you have had, which ones were truly worth worrying about?  Typically, none of those fears were worth the time spent worrying about them because our fears are defeated as the Lord enables us to persevere.  As Jeremiah notes, we need to grow deep roots so during the hard times in life or in the presence of our biggest fears, we remain steadfast in the strength of our God.  Have you been able to grow those roots and develop an undeniable trust and confidence in Him?  Or, have we made our God so small in our minds that we constantly worry and are fearful of many things?  I love how Jon Acuff takes on the topic of fear in his book, Start, specifically talking about “punching fear in the face.”  Realizing that our God is bigger than any of our fears is the starting point of becoming a stronghold, fearful of nothing, knowing that God always works for the good in every situation (Romans 8:28), and is constantly molding us to be more like Him.  But, in order for us to become like Him, we first need full and complete trust in Him.

What are some practical ways we can beat fear and begin to trust God with our entire being?  The first answer is to pray and spend time with God as noted in last week’s devotional, “Do You Have the Time?  The second part is to admit your fear.  Admit it to God.  Admit it to those you trust the most.  Most of us never talk about our fears. Obviously, because we are afraid of them.  When you talk with your closest friends and family, you are likely to find that they have many of the same fears you do.  You’ll feel less alone, because they can help alleviate your fears by supporting you.  Take the time right now to call, text, Facebook, IM, Skype, DM on Twitter, or somehow contact your best friend at this moment to take your first step in overcoming your fear.  The voices of fear in your mind constantly tell you that you should continue to worry about your fears.  It’s time to silence those voices.  It’s time to remember that our God is a big God.  “No giant will ever be a match for a big God with a little rock.”

Father, help us to place all of our trust in You.  Remind us that you are a big God; bigger than anything we can possibly fathom.  Eliminate our fears and rid our mind of worry.  Fill our hearts and minds with the promises that You have given us, and remind us that You will always be there for us even in the midst of our biggest fears. No matter the circumstances, may we feel Your presence in every situation we face. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

For further study, read Psalm 1:1-3. Think about how this passage suggests that trust is similar to obedience as obedience and spending time with the Lord creates trust in Him.

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