Fear unleashes a host of doubts. It chips away at our confidence in God’s goodness. If Jesus can sleep in the storms of the Sea of Galilee, is He asleep in our storms? Does He care? Our minds continue, “If God doesn’t care, then we must take control.” We become control freaks because we perceive a loss of control and somebody has to do something!
The disciples had every reason to trust Jesus. They had heard Him teach the Word and had even seen Him perform miracles, and yet they still had little faith in a crisis, when their lives were at risk. Fear is a powerful emotion and it takes over when we allow it. But faith is ever present and more powerful: it keeps fear in check. The Disciples’ unbelief encouraged their fear, and their fear made them question whether Jesus really cared. (Mark 4:35-40) It is a vicious cycle. Unbelief lead to fear, fear leads to unbelief and on it goes.
Simply telling people to “get saved and read your Bible” and then their fears and anxieties will disappear is not the answer. There is a growth process that involves the renewing of our minds through the study of the Word and learning to trust in God and not in ourselves. Faith casts out fear, but that faith comes as we learn to walk in obedience to the Word.
Help for Breaking Free from Fear
David wrote Psalm 56 when his enemies were seeking to destroy him. This Psalm provides a pattern to follow that will help us break free from the fear of man. Read the Psalm and then answer the questions below.
1 Be gracious to me, O God, for man has trampled upon me; fighting all day long he oppresses me.
2 My foes have trampled upon me all day long, for they are many who fight proudly against me.
3 When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You.
4 In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me?
5 All day long they distort my words; all their thoughts are against me for evil.
6 They attack, they lurk, they watch my steps, as they have waited to take my life.
7 Because of wickedness, cast them forth, in anger put down the peoples, O God!
8 You have taken account of my wanderings; Put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book?
9 Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call; this I know, that God is for me.
10 In God, whose word I praise, In the LORD, whose word I praise,
11 In God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?
12 Your vows are binding upon me, O God; I will render thank offerings to You.
13 For You have delivered my soul from death, Indeed my feet from stumbling, So that I may walk before God In the light of the living.
Answer these questions from the text above (You may want to write the answers out)
What do you learn about David?
In the face of his enemies David is afraid but he responds to the situation rather than reacting to it. How does he respond in verses 1-2?
In verse 3 we see it is not if we feel fear, rather it is a question of when. When fear comes we don’t need to fall victim to it and let it control us. Where was David’s focus?
What did David do that helped him refocus, thus keeping him from becoming enslaved by the fear of man according to verses 3-4?
What you learn about the men that were opposing David in verses 5-7?
Does David have reason to be afraid?
In the face of his enemies David calls out to God, what does he ask Him to do?
Immediately after telling God about his enemies David puts his focus back on God. What happens when we focus on the circumstances and not God?
What did David rehearse about God that helped in the face of his enemies?
David started off the Psalm afraid but ended by resting as He trusted in God.
It is not a sin to be afraid but if the fear of man is controlling you and God is not, then you won’t be refreshed.
5 Principles for Overcoming Fear
God does not want us to live in fear. But in order to overcome fear we must learn and apply some very simple principles as David did when he was afraid.
- Respond by going to God in prayer (Psalm 56:1-2)
- Refocus by focusing on God not the circumstance (Psalm 56:3-4)
- Rehearse what we know about God and His Word, in our mind (or verbally if necessary) (Psalm 56:4,11)
- Rest by trusting God in the circumstance. (Psalm 56:4,11)
- Respond, Refocus, Rehearse, Rest. (Psalm 3:1-6)
When we put our focus on Christ we are reminded He is ever present and all powerful. Then our struggles and fears are put into their proper perspective and our faith becomes stronger. The result of that is that we are able to be courageous and not be afraid. (Joshua 1:7)
Jesus Himself wages war against fear. In the New Testament He often commands us to not be afraid, or not to fear, or have courage. Of these, the statement He made more than any other was do not be afraid. Jesus doesn’t want us to live in fear; He calls us to courage. (Matthew 14:27)
Something to think about
Are you more afraid of the voice of man than the voice of God?
Do you have faith to stand confidently and say that the God we can’t see is far greater than the people we can?