Sunday, January 22, 2012

Fighting Off Fear

        A speeding, reckless driver could have killed us. Fear filled my heart as I saw it about to happen.
        They call it “the hill,” but it’s a ten-mile-long stretch that gains 2,000 foot elevation from Black Canyon City up to Sunset Point. In the rugged mountain terrain the freeway’s two lanes going down are about a mile’s distance from the two lanes going up. A sign warns trucks to stay in the right lane.
        Someone told me the view is really nice along there; I can’t vouch for that since my eyes are glued to the highway and the mirror and the guardrails along the sheer cliff side when Don is driving.
        “Oh, no!” was all I could muster as I glanced in the rear view mirror at dusk one evening as my husband and I were heading up the hill, going home from Phoenix.
        Don was driving in the left-hand lane, overtaking an old, slow-moving car in the right lane. Suddenly, speeding up behind us from around a curve was a red car, way exceeding the speed limit, not slowing down at all.

        Somehow Don managed to squeeze a little more towards the guardrail and miraculously the wild driver got through between us and the old car. Where there was only room for two vehicles side by side, there had been three, side by side!
        It was over before we had time to think or talk or even pray. God had spared us. Although we had prayed for safety before starting the drive home, it had been a routine request. Now we couldn’t stop talking.
        “Thank You, Father!” Don exclaimed.
        “Watch out. We’ll probably see that reckless driver piled up around some next corner, or off the side of the mountain somewhere!”
        Fear didn’t have time to do its worst; God brought us safely through in a heartbeat.
        Now however, I do have an aversion to us driving “the hill.” Going around the blind corners where some accident could be in the roadway, or some slow truck could be passing an even-slower semi definitely detracts from the mountainous scenery. I have more to learn about fighting off fear.

What about you?
        Ever felt fearful? Scared of something when you were a kid? Fear isn’t just something in children’s lives. Perhaps at some point you’ve felt apprehensive, terrified, nervous, or extremely uneasy.
        There’s a whole arsenal of fear-producers. From accidents and illness, to terrorists and threats real or perceived, to wild weather, the list can go on and on. Danger and cruelty may give birth to fear.
        Fear takes on many ominous hues in our mind’s eye, brings a sour, metallic flavor to the stomach, triggers many kinds of responses, and leads to many different outcomes. Depending on the circumstances a person’s reaction may be false bravery, or mature confidence, or extreme depression. The adrenaline rush may bring serve a useful purpose, or it may wear down a person’s ability to deal with matters in a helpful, logical and systematic way.
        For many believers the words of 2 Timothy 1:7 have brought comfort. Just repeating the verse has a calming effect. These words may bring distraction from distress, but they can also teach some vital points about trusting God.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear;
but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
2 Timothy 1:7, NKJV
        Analyzing these words can give even greater insight into the underlying truth of God’s amazing provision, enabling us to fight off fear.

What does this verse say?
        First, note that God is not the one who gives us fear. When God wants to get our attention He gives us a flash of knowledge or insight. Fear is a spirit that hovers over us, sent by the enemy of our soul to bring us to eventual destruction.
        When we realize that fear is near we can conquer it with the three components mentioned in this verse.
        God gives us power. Fear may come upon us when we feel powerless in our circumstances. We can call upon God and claim His power to calm our trembling soul. His power can overcome any assault of the devil.
        God gives us love. Fear may come upon us when we feel hated or unloved or terribly misunderstood. We can call upon God and claim His love to fill our hurting hearts. His perfect love casts out all fear.
        God gives us a sound mind. Fear may come upon us because of a massive onslaught of confusion, deception, or frustration. We can call upon God and claim His truth to settle our minds. His healing touch cancels the devastation the devil has designed for us.

What about all the world’s troubles?
        Surveying a world gone mad with sin and evil, it would be only right to cry out for a solution. More laws, more police protection, more respect for personal freedoms, and more political and sociological solutions have been proposed, but throughout the recorded history of mankind the world has not become any safer or kinder.
        The Bible says God gave humans “free will” so they would not be puppets, but would be fully able to make choices. Freedom to choose opens up the possibility of earning unpleasant consequences. We are free to go against God’s laws of nature and morality, and other people are free to make bad decisions that affect us.
        Fear is not going to just disappear. God doesn’t neutralize it for us. He wants us to call out to Him in honest, earnest prayer. He will empower us to do what is best in the situation, and our obedience makes us stronger and more spiritually mature.

What is the one necessary fear?
        Many people have to rightly fear dying. This truth is not something to ignore or dismiss flippantly.
Throughout the Bible we are admonished to “fear” the Lord.
“And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, 
but to fear the LORD your God,
to walk in all His ways, and to love Him,
and to serve the LORD your God
with all your heart and with all your soul,”
Deuteronomy 10:12, NKJV.
        Almighty God, Creator of the Universe deserves our utmost obedience, our deepest awe and respect. When we have accepted His terms for living, then we do not have to fear dying.

What about faith?
        Jesus accounts fearfulness with a lack of faith. This is what He told the disciples out on the stormy sea, in Matthew 8:26. In Mark 4:40-41 it relates the disciples “feared exceedingly.”
        These men were afraid because they didn’t fully know who Jesus was and what He could do. Our fearfulness, too, reveals a lack of faith. What we do not need is some generic “faith” that tells us to “only believe” without putting Jesus at the center.

What is God’s way?
        We can fight off fear when we welcome God’s presence; He gives us power, love, and a sound mind that recognizes and appropriates truth and wisdom.
        First, we need to receive forgiveness for every deficiency and for every sin, by receiving Jesus as Savior. We don’t need to—and can’t—be perfect. But, like young David we can challenge the giant, Goliath, as we do what God shows us to do, one step at a time.
        Banish worry and dread, anxiety and trepidation. Build yourself up in faith as you walk prayerfully, and even confidently, through the minefields of fear.

What does the Bible say?
        God’s Word has much to say about fear,  God’s presence, power, love, and a sound mind.  Here are a few verses (NKJV) to challenge, bless, and encourage us:

“He will not be afraid of evil tidings;
His heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD.”
Psalm 112:7

“So we may boldly say: ‘The LORD is my helper;
I will not fear.
What can man do to me?’” 
Hebrews 13:6.

“The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him,
The Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The Spirit of counsel and might,
The Spirit of knowledge
and of the fear of the LORD.
His delight is in the fear of the LORD . . .”
Isaiah 11:2, 3.

“And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power
and the glory forever. Amen.”
Matthew 6:13.

“Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” 
Isaiah 41:10.

“And with great power the apostles gave witness
to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.
And great grace was upon them all.” 
Acts 4:33.

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord
and in the power of His might.”
  Ephesians 6:10.

“ . . . giving all diligence,
add to your faith
virtue . . . knowledge . . .
self-control . . .
perseverance . . . godliness . . .
brotherly kindness . . . love.
For if these things are yours and abound,
you will be neither barren nor unfruitful
in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
2 Peter 1:5-8.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
longsuffering, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness,
self-control . . .”
Galatians 5:22, 23.

So, what about you?
What are your favorite verses about fear?
How are you growing in faith?
Are you experiencing God’s power and love?
Are you gaining wisdom that develops and supports a sound mind?
by Elaine Hardt ©2004