Fear is a natural response. It can keep us alive. For instance, fear might cause us to flee a dangerous situation. However, fear can also master us at the wrong times. A classic case is when we know we need to take a step of faith, but if we don’t take control of our fear we won’t take that step. As I told the children I taught yesterday, the absence of fear is unnatural. A person without any fear is insane. Courage isn’t the absence of fear. Courage is acting with that fear being present. I’m nervous and I’m scared about that step off faith. However, I know I need to take that step of faith so I choose to do so. That’s courage. But what about when that fear feels like it’s too much? Then what?
I sought the Lord, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.
– Psalm 34:4-7, ESV
When fear threatens to master you, turn to the Master. David wrote these words and likely he felt that numbing fear many times during Saul’s pursuit. However, David kept moving. David kept acting. That’s because David kept trying to trust in God. He didn’t do it perfectly, but David did it often enough to be able to survive in spite of that fear. David’s experience with God is that God saved him from all his troubles. I know it’s bad theology to say if I’m in a bad situation then God is going to fix it just because I ask Him to. There are times when God allows bad things to happen because they serve a greater purpose. As I told the children yesterday, the Son of God being crucified was a horrible thing. The worst thing ever in the world. However, God the Father permitted it because that was the only way to redeem us from our sins. So if God is willing to allows the most horrible of things happen to His own Son, then we, too, must be prepared to suffer. However, when it comes to fear, we are to turn to God. Maybe He won’t deliver us from our troubles, but He will give us to courage to act in the face of them.
It is okay to be afraid. Abram was afraid but God reassured him. Hagar was afraid. God reassured her. Isaac was afraid. God reassured him. Jacob was afraid. God strengthened him as well. Gideon, David, Hezekiah, the jailer of Paul and Silas, and many more were strengthened and girded by God in their time of fear. They were given the ability to act in the face of that fear. Why? They trusted God. They called out to Him. They put their strength aside, for it was insufficient, and they let God’s strength be theirs. We have the same privilege and possibility. All it takes is for us to call out to God and admit our fear. We ask God for aid, to deliver us in the face of that fear and then we yield to Him. We do it His way. We allow Him to be in control. That is how to beat fear. That is how to win over it and be its master: by allowing the Master to be our Master.
What is holding you back? What are you afraid of? What step won’t you take that you know you need to take? What situation does fear have mastery over you? Turn it over to God. Acknowledge your weakness before Him. Ask Him for His strength and His support. Then listen and obey. God will deliver. He always does.