For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power, love and discipline.
Fear can be crippling. It can prevent us from moving forward in our lives. When we know what we ought to be doing but hold back because of a lack of confidence and/ or uncertainty about the future it stops us from being all that God wants us to be. This can be detrimental to our purpose and calling in life. So what exactly is fear and how can we overcome it?
According to the dictionary fear is ‘an unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain or harm.’ Biologically, it is a natural response created by God. If it is unpleasant why was it created? Difficult question. What we know is that we have access to a whole range of positive and negative emotions but it is how we respond to them in our thoughts that determines whether we are successful in avoiding negative behaviours. Replacing negative thoughts with the truth of what is said in the bible is a powerful way of uprooting and getting rid of negative thinking.
I will therefore list some truths from the bible which when meditated on will help replace fearful thoughts which in turn will enable steps of faith to be taken. By meditation, I mean reflecting on the truths and seeing how it can be applied to our lives. This is just the beginning of mastering fear. We need to then make appropriate decisions that will get us moving forward in the right direction in any given situation. Decisions must be followed by action if steps of faith are to be taken. Abraham was called by God to leave his homeland to go to an unknown destination and he was given the promise that he would inherit a land for his people. Abraham trusted God, made the decision to leave, packed his things and left with his family, servants and animals.
He took action. What am I saying here? There are elements of trust and faith involved in stepping forward in any situation. So do bear this in mind in any given situation you may find yourself in that is creating fearful feelings in you. Another point regarding the practice of meditation is that it is not about emptying the mind but rather about filling it and thinking on truths some of which I will list as scriptural verses below.
We are told in the bible
‘And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.’ Romans 12.2 NASB
By meditating on truths from the bible, on scripture, we are gaining access to Gods own thinking and His will for us which is always true and is always the best possible outcome God will want for us.
No wonder the bible says
‘This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it, for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.’ Joshua 1.8 NASB
It is important that we regularly read the scriptures in order that our minds are constantly being filled with truths. Note that the verse above says ‘mouth’. Speaking the verses out helps reinforce them in our minds. When we recite the verses we hear them and as we do so it becomes easier to recall them from our memories. I have found this to be the case when it comes to memorising scripture. Basing our decisions on truths from the bible will not only help us live Godly lives , pleasing to our Father but will also move us in the right direction towards fulfilling our calling.
So what are some truths that we can hold onto in our every day lives to help overcome fear?
I list them below and explain how they can help.
- ‘Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you’. Deuteronomy 31.6 NASB. Moses told the Israelites this because God was indeed with them. He is also with us. Jesus Himself says this ‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit teaching them all to observe all that I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Matthew 28.20 NASB. Jesus was speaking to the disciples just before he ascended into heaven and the same message he gave them applies to us as His followers. He is with us. How comforting to know that no matter what we are facing He is with us. The same God who was with Moses and Joshua and the Israelites is the same God with us.
- ‘There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfect in love’ 1 John 4.18 NASB. As followers of Christ we are commanded to love others. If we are to love , we need to know what love is and what better way to do this than to think on Gods love for us, how He sent His only Son, Jesus, to die for us. When we meditate on this regularly we will find it easier to love others. I found this to be true whenever I had to do presentations to large groups of people. I used to be so nervous before the presentations until I learnt one important lesson. I considered the group of people as an audience I wanted to reach out to in love, forgot about my own performance and instead focused more on the needs of the group. This lesson was not merely a mind exercise. It actually lowered my anxiety levels to the point where I enjoyed giving the presentation. This practice of meditating on Gods love is an ongoing one and I would encourage you to make this a daily habit.
- ‘Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God and the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.’ Philippians 4.7. We have a faithful God who answers prayers. When faced with a fearful situation we can be assured that we can ask our heavenly Father to help us and He will. ‘You do not have because you do not ask.’ James 4.2 NASB. Quite clearly we are told to pray and ask for things if we are to receive. When faced with a fearful situation, talk to our Father about this. He knows every little detail about you. He can count the hairs on your head and knows your thoughts. Tell Him how you feel and ask Him for help. He will surely answer your prayer and sometimes in ways you may not expect! So be open minded and just trust Him.
- ‘When I am afraid, I will put my trust in you.’ Psalm 56.3 NASB. We have a God who is in control. He created the heavens and the earth and all that is in them. He is all powerful and all knowing. He can take care of us. Jesus Himself said we should not be worried or anxious. ‘For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin; yet I say to you not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith!’ Matthew 6.25-30. NASB.