By Charles F. Stanley
Fear is the uneasy feeling that we are inadequate. It is an alarm that goes off when we feel threatened. It keeps people from the attainment of their goals.
I’m not talking about normal, natural fears—such as the fear of falling or the fear of walking onto a busy highway. I’m talking about a gripping, paralyzing fear that is truly a spirit of fear. Paul wrote to Timothy, “God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline” (2 Tim. 1:7).
Let me give you an example of this type of fear. Imagine a person who believes strongly that the Lord desires him to take a new job. He starts with confidence and enthusiasm. Soon he realizes that has much to learn about how to succeed in this new role. The whole project begins to seem insurmountable and overwhelming. He begins to take to heart the criticism of others. He feels as if he is a failure and will never succeed at this new position. He says, “I don’t have what it takes. I’m scared of taking any more risks.” The longer that trend in thinking goes unchecked, the more he moves in to sheer panic until he just wants to flee completely. Fear wins out and he does not accomplish God’s goal for his life.
When fear strikes you, face fear head-on. Ask yourself, What am I really afraid of? Break down the nature of your fear. Are you afraid of failure that will lead to criticism? Are you afraid of failure that will lead to rejection from someone you love or admire? Are you afraid that your weaknesses and inadequacies will be exposed? Are you afraid that others will withdraw from you or perhaps even punish you?
Admit the fears to yourself and to God. And at times, you may be wise to admit the fears to others. Then turn immediately to the matter of your faith. Faith is the solution for fear. Do things that build up your faith.
The first and best move you can make to build up your faith is to get your eyes off your problem and off yourself and onto Jesus. He is the Source of all your supply. He is utterly reliable and possesses all knowledge and all authority. Speak aloud the words of Hebrews 13:6 until they sink deep within your spirit: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”
People may criticize, reject, ridicule and persecute, but they can’t take away your salvation, your relationship with Jesus Christ, your eternal home in heaven, or the joy, contentment, and inner strength the Lord imparts to you.
Second, ask the Lord to give you the help you need.It is one thing to say, “The Lord is my helper,” and another to say, “Lord, help me today,” or “Lord, help me right now in this situation.” You may need an answer to a problem, friendship, a good mentor or teacher, wise counsel, or extra energy and strength. Be specific in your requests.
Third, encourage yourself by memorizing the Word of God and quoting it as often as you need a fear-buster of inner strength.Take Isaiah 41:10-13 to heart. In this passage, the Lord promises to give us His presence; give us His power, which is vastly superior to his strength; give us His provision, which is more than sufficient; give us His protection against all of our enemies. What more could you need? Remind the Lord often of His fourfold promise to you.
And, finally, ask others to pray for you. Ask them to uphold you daily in prayer and in turn, pray for them and their success. We read in James 5:16, “Pray for one another so that you may be healed.”
What might the man in the example have done as he took his new job? He might have said, “I don’t know all about this job, but the Lord knows. He will help me get the information I need so I can be successful.” Instead of being overwhelmed, he could have chosen to see the job as a mountain to be climbed, step by step. When he failed, he might have confessed error to the Lord, and asked God to help him learn from his mistakes.
Every person alive has suffered loss. But if we continue to move forward in pursuit of God-given goals, He will give us victories in areas where we have struggled in the past. He will turn all things to good (Rom. 8:28).
Don’t be surprised when fear emerges. Nothing good in life comes without a struggle against fear. The key is to run headlong at fear with your faith in Christ Jesus and your confidence firmly set in Him. You canovercome fear!