Would you describe yourself as fearful or fearless?
Fear Defined (Merriam-Webster)
- to be afraid of (something or someone)
- to expect or worry about (something bad or unpleasant)
- to be afraid and worried
“Fear is a felt reaction to a perceived danger.” —Elyse Fitzpatrick
I love this definition because there are times when our fears are unfounded, vain imaginings…but they are still “felt”. There is a physiological response that occurs when we find ourselves in a fearful situation. Fear can be good. It’s that built-in response system that God has wired us with to perceive and respond to danger. That fight or flight impulse that can be good and keep us from dangerous situations. Fear is also an aspect of our relationship with God. Not the cowering in the corner or waiting for the hammer to drop type of fear, but rather one that is the result of a relationship of love. It’s “a reverent submission that leads to obedience.” —Ed Welch, When People Are Big and God is Small
Benefits of Fearing the Lord:
- Psalm 111:10 – it is the beginning of wisdom
- Psalm 112:1 – I am blessed
- Proverbs 1:7 – it is the beginning of knowledge
- Proverbs 14:26 – there is strong confidence
- Proverbs 14:27 – He is a fountain of life
- Proverbs 19:23 – it leads to life and I sleep satisfied
- Isaiah 33:6 – there is stability for my times, a wealth of salvation, wisdom and knowledge; it’s a treasure
- Jeremiah 32:40 – keeps us from turning away from Him
But fear becomes harmful when we become “fixated and fretful”. It’s harmful when we find ourselves fretting, worried, stressed, anxious and panicked. It’s harmful when fear controls and consumes us and we find ourselves trying to control and be in control of every situation in life. It’s harmful when our health is affected by the stress and anxiety it produces.
What does fear look like in your life? What causes you to be fearful?
Worried…anxious…fretful…fearful…controlling…all of these emotional responses reveal something about my heart —about who or what I’m trusting in my life. What do I do with my fears? How can I overcome them and honor and glorify God in my response? How can I find some freedom from the fears that can paralyze, frustrate, and consume me?
We Can Choose to React or Respond!
“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” —Viktor Frankl
THE STIMULUS — What are some things that trigger fear in our lives?
- Fear of the Unexpected
- Fear of the Unknown
- Fear of Circumstances
- Fear of Rejection
- Fear of Failure
- Fear of the Future
What are some of your fear triggers?
THE GAP— What we choose to do IN that space between stimulus and response can determine whether we are reacting to or responding to fear.
When I face that “stimulus”, that uncertain or undesirable situation that prompts me to worry and be fearful, I tend to either react or respond. The difference is subtle. One brings imprisons and consumes me and the other brings about growth and freedom in my life. When I react I often exhibit worry, anxiety, fretfulness, a demanding spirit and an attempt to control the situation or people. I’m operating in my own strength and relying on my abilities to try to resolve the situation or alleviate the fear. That space where we have the power to choose our response is what I’m calling the “gap moment”. The little “gap” in time that can go unnoticed if I’m not looking for it.
THE RESPONSE — What’s the difference between responding and reacting?
When I respond, I take time in the “gap moment” to remind myself of who God is, what He has done and to cry out to Him for wisdom, strength and help. It’s choosing to trust God in the moment knowing that He is good, trustworthy, faithful and true. It’s reminding myself that He is in control of all things. Growing in trust is a choice and one I choose to make over and over, every time I find myself looking to someone or something other than God. It’s about focusing on who God is, what He has done and His power at work in our lives.
Lord, there is no one besides You to help in the battle between the powerful and those who have no strength; so help us, O Lord our God, for we trust in You, and in Your name have come against this multitude. —2 Chronicles 14:11 (NASB)
And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you. —Psalm 9:10 (ESV)
In You our fathers trusted; They trusted and You delivered them. To You they cried out and were delivered; In You they trusted and were not disappointed. —Psalm 22:4-5 (NASB)
The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him. —Psalm 28:7 (ESV)
Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. —Psalm 62:8 (ESV)
Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation. —Isaiah 12:2 (ESV)
Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock. —Isaiah 26:4 (ESV)
But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. —Psalm 13:5 (ESV)
Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. —Psalm 37:5 (ESV)
He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord. —Psalm 112:7 (ESV)
He IS trustworthy! I can fear less and I can be fearless! I can begin to find some freedom from the fears that rob me of my peace of mind and leave me feeling hopeless.
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. —Hebrews 4:16
confidence —parrēsia — free and fearless confidence, cheerful courage, boldness, assurance
When I find myself in that “gap moment” I can draw near to God and place my trust in Him. The more I seek Him and trust Him, the more I find myself growing in confidence, free and fearless, because my hope is in the One who is all-powerful and in control of all things!
Where are you struggling with fear in your life right now?
When you find yourself facing fear this week, choose to run with confidence to the throne of grace. Remind yourself of who God is and what He has done. Get into His Word and find comfort in His promises to you!
©2014 Susan Cady, susancady.com