Years ago someone asked advice columnist Ann Landers if there was any common denominator in the thousands of letters she received every day. She said the overriding theme of all the letters was fear.
If we are honest, all of us struggle with some kind of fear. The problem with fear is that it leads to disobeying God and forfeiting God’s blessings.
Fear is the foundation of every major sin in the Bible. For example, the fear of an unsatisfying life caused Eve to eat the forbidden fruit. The fear of poverty caused Jacob to cheat his brother, Esau. And the fear of persecution caused the disciples to desert Jesus at His crucifixion.
When we look at our lives today, we find that almost every one of our sins is also rooted in fear. We flatter people because we fear being disliked. We hoard money because we fear we won’t have enough. We get involved in wrong relationships because we fear being lonely. Fear always leads us away from, rather than toward, God’s promised future.
What is fear? Fear is the nagging suspicion that God is incapable of handling our problems.
I read somewhere that a fog that covers seven city blocks consists of less than one glassful of water. It doesn’t take much water to fog a city. And it doesn’t take much fear to fog your thinking. You may be facing a financial issue, a health concern, or a strained relationship. If you look at your problem and say, “This is gigantic; there is no way I can overcome it,” then fear is distorting the size of your problem. You are measuring it by your abilities rather than by God’s power.
The command “Fear not” appears in the Bible 366 times—one for every day of the year, including leap year. God understands that we need to remind ourselves daily not to fear, because we have God on our side.
Fear also keeps us from moving forward. E. Stanley Jones put it like this: “Fear is the sand in the machinery of life.” Fear can bring our future to a grinding halt. You and I will face obstacles in life, but God did not bring us to this point to allow us to fail. Just as God has been faithful to lead us to this point, He will be faithful to lead us from here until eternity.
How do we overcome fear? The antidote to fear is faith.
Some people think faith is an emotion you conjure up to force God to do what you want Him to do. They say if you just believe it hard enough, then you will be healed, your relationship will be restored, or money will be deposited in your bank account. But that is not faith. That is presumption.
Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Faith is not a hope, a wish, or a desire. Assurance refers to a concrete foundation that held a massive Roman pillar. And conviction refers to an outward behavior resulting from an inward belief.
Faith is believing that God will do what He has promised to do and acting accordingly.
In the Bible, we find many men and women who believed that God would do what He promised to do and acted accordingly. Noah believed God would destroy the world with a flood, so he built a boat. Abraham believed God would make him the father of a great nation, so he packed up his tent and moved. Rahab believed God would bless Israel, so she saved the Israelite spies. That’s what faith is—a belief followed by a behavior.
God has not promised to spare you from every adversity, but He has promised that He will bless you, guide you, and protect you if you obey Him.
No matter what circumstances you are facing, you can be confident that God has moved you to this point so that you can go forward and experience His blessing. Instead of retreating in fear, choose to move forward in faith, knowing that the same God who has blessed you so far will continue to bless you as you follow Him.