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?
It is a scary world that we live in and with each passing day the headlines tell of shootings, severe weather, terror threats, political unrest, economic upheaval and global instability.
In our personal lives we are faced with job insecurity, financial loss, health issues, broken relationships, prodigals, disobedient children, drama and the list goes on and on.
How quickly we find ourselves wringing our hands, trying to “make things work”, working hard to fix people, worrying about those we love and ourselves. Fear slithers in, like the one who uses it to pierce the heart and mind, and drains us of all peace.
How are we to respond?
When life begins to crumble you find yourself drowning in a sea of circumstances, when the world is swirling and the noise is deafening REMEMBER
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear… Psalm 46:1-2
The pressure to embrace the fear is great! But, our Refuge is even greater! As believers it is possible to be strong and confident no matter what is happening in today’s headlines, in our families or in our personal lives.
The way to overcome that fear is to trust what God’s Word says is true and cling to it, the way a child who is afraid, wraps their arms and legs around their father and refuses to let go. Why do they do that? Because they KNOW they are safe in their daddy’s arms. He is their refuge in times of trouble.
We live in a sinful, broken world and the one thing we can be certain of, is that our days are uncertain!
BUT, God’s Word is crystal clear – we serve a BIG God who is ever present and personal. While the nations are raging and kingdoms totter, the Lord of Hosts is with us – He is our fortress! (Psalm 46:6-7)
So what do you do when you are struggling with fear and uncertainty?
Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! – Psalm 46:10
There are three parts to this verse
Be Still (cease striving)
It carries the idea of – stop struggling against, stop fighting, stop trying to figure things out. In other words we are to rest, relax, chill out, drop our weapons and stop fighting!
I don’t know about you, but it is very hard for me to be still. When I am struggling with fear and feeling out of control I want to do something. I want to take matters into my own hands and do whatever it takes to “make it right” – in doing so I often find refuge in all the wrong places. I trust in myself or others rather than resting in God.
But, there is another aspect to being still – that is learning to be quiet.
We live in a noisy world, one that is not only filled with sounds but with a multitude of voices. If we were honest with ourselves, most of us would confess that we are “plugged in” 24/7. The TV is on 24/7 (even if it is just for noise), iPods are plugged in, fans are blowing, Sirius XM enables us to listen in the car, at home or anywhere we happen to be!
There is also the multitude of voices: friends, family, foes, teachers, mentors and other sundry voices. Which ones do you listen to? Who carries the heaviest weight? We need to discern if this is God speaking through them or is it just the flesh?
When we are free from outside turbulence we are better able to hear the still, small voice of God’s Spirit. He speaks to us, but sometimes we aren’t quiet enough to hear Him.
One other voice that needs to b quieted is the voice of our flesh, the one which speaks in the language of worries, doubts and fears. By taking those thoughts captive and resting in God’s Word, peace replaces the turbulence. That doesn’t mean the storm has passed, it means the storm is no longer within you. The storms may still rage, but you will be free from their effects.
Learn that He is God, or you might think of it as “see that I am God”, or “Get to know Me better”. The way to get to know God better is to consistently be in His Word, learning who He is, what your relationship with Him is and how He operates. There is no better way to get to know someone than by spending time with them.
The more you get to know God, the easer it becomes to step back and see that He is who He says He is!
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth
Often I exalt myself and try to be my own god. I do what I want to do, when I want to do it! I take matters into my own hands. “I do it!”, as my granddaughter says.
However, there is only one god! (Deuteronomy 6:4) I am not He and neither are you!
When we become still and get to know Him we can stand in confidence no matter what is happening around us. And when we do, others will see and they too will know that He is God – and hopefully want whatever it is that we have!
Where do I start?
I would like to suggest you read Psalm 46, implant its words deep down in your heart so that you can stand firm on them when your circumstances try to consume you.
Actually, I think it would be a great exercise to not simply read Psalm 46, but to engage with it.
- Print out a copy of the text. (Double spaced to give yourself some room to work.)
- Read Psalm 46
- Mark God by drawing a triangle over every reference to God, including synonyms and pronouns.
- Make a list of everything you learn about God in this Psalm. For example:
1. God is our refuge and strength (verse 1)
2. A very present help in trouble (verse 1)
- Evaluate your list and see how it applies to you.
When I find myself in trouble, I need to act on what I know know is true. For example:
I can run to God my refuge and strength and not to my friends.
I go to His Word for strength and direction.
I cling to the truth of the Bible even when I don’t understand my circumstances.
Often we create our own drama because we don’t know how to live quietly, how to be still at the proper time. One of the marks of a mature believer is being still and confident, trusting God no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in, as the result of being in the Word.
Stillness and confidence will be your strength and will reveal the One you serve!
photo courtesy of precept ministries international
Do you ever feel like the news is NEVER good?
The terror in Boston, MA. The explosions in West, TX. The poison Ricin that was mailed to the President and a Congressman. North Korea threatening, Syria falling, and Iran going nuclear. Everywhere you turn it seems someone has a serious illness, is getting laid off, or is losing their home. Each day seems to bring fresh reasons for fear. Fear may have even taken a foothold in your life.
The real question is, can you even imagine a life without fear? Fear will always be a part of our life, but it doesn’t have to control us. In Jesus, we have the all powerful, sovereign Lord over all creation and all of life’s circumstances.
If you have ever gasped for breath, been paralyzed unable to move forward in life or felt the hair on your neck stand on end as the result of having been gripped by fear’s icy fingers, please continue reading in order to break free from fears or to help someone else break free. Click here to read more — > http://goo.gl/KN63D