Fear and Faith

Fear and Faith coverI find Paul to be a wonderful example of a God-fearing man who had to learn to trust. He had to learn to be content (Philippians 4:11). Paul hadn’t arrived. He was tried by fire. He was tested, and his faith and trust in the Lord grew as a result. I share this because you and I so often hold the men and women in Scripture as our example for life. The example from Paul is one of learning—not of perfection. The valiant woman of Proverbs is another example of a biblical character we may elevate. She laughed at the unknowns in the days to come and found her security and strength in the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 31:25, 30). She is the quintessential biblical example of a strong and courageous woman. When I envision her, I imagine she is unruffled by uncertainty and ready to face any danger. Boy, do I wish I were like her! Thankfully, that is why she is considered an ideal. I, however, would characterize my everyday walk with the Lord quite differently. I am fearful, but I want to be bold and trusting. I am anxious, but I want to find confidence and rest in God. I imagine that the valiant woman, if walking the earth, wouldn’t be comfortable with the pedestal we’ve put her on. No one is perfect, and even the “ideal” woman needed to grow and learn.

Walk by Faith

Similarly, you and I are tried. We don’t become Christians and suddenly understand what it means to walk by faith. Like a baby, we may begin our journey by pushing off from our hands, then crawling, pulling up on the Word of truth, and failing and falling many times. And then one day we reach the point where we take that sure step of faith, and before we know it, we are wobbling toward a straight path. We aren’t born walking from our mother’s womb, and we aren’t born again trusting perfectly.

I’m not alone in this. Just the other day I received an email from a friend, requesting prayer because she was afraid to leave her daughter as she traveled across the state. Before that, and over the past several months, I’ve had the privilege of caring for women who have had miscarriages, and they fear having more or never getting pregnant again. I have a dear college-aged friend who shared that she was afraid she might not do well enough on a midterm to pass her college class; and my single girlfriend is praying that the Lord will bring her a husband—but the prospect seems dim, so she fears it just won’t happen. I could go on. And I imagine you resonate with similar temptations and circumstances.

We too often fear the past, the present, and the future. There is the fear of being who we are, so we try to please people. We, unlike the psalmist in Psalm 23, are afraid that the future is not as good as God says; will goodness and mercy really follow me all my days? (Psalm 23:6). There is the fear of other women, and—as a result—we compare ourselves to them and judge their actions and motives. We fear the future with anxious thoughts about our children not knowing the Lord when they get older or about our husband not returning from a trip. We don’t want our kids to die, so we fixate on death and forget who is really in control. And we wonder if we are good enough for anyone or anything.

I know this to be true firsthand. From trusting God for a husband to praying that I wouldn’t have another miscarriage, I’ve experienced the intense and debilitating temptation to fear. The fear I am referring to is by definition an expectation of harm; it is to be alarmed and apprehensive. When I am tempted to fear in this way, it is because my false sense of control has been altered by a circumstance. Or there are unknowns—what lies in the future—and I realize I have absolutely no control over what will happen. In many ways, our fears rest in seeking trust and security in ourselves. Within a matter of seconds I can bury my husband in my private thoughts; I’ve arranged the funeral and am now terrified as I try to figure out how to raise our two beautiful children by myself. These thoughts are imaginary; it hasn’t happened. It’s just my fear. During those times my mind isn’t meditating on what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8). I’ve noticed that my decision to play God never works out well for me. Can you relate? Regardless, I think you and I do this because we believe it’s easier to be in control. But when we realize we don’t reign supreme, that we don’t have sovereign authority over our lives, it can be terrifying.

A Remedy for Our Fears

There is, however, and thankfully, a remedy for all our fears. That remedy comes as a person, and the means through which He provides the comfort, along with the Holy Spirit, is through His Word. To fight our fears, we will look at God’s sovereignty and love and watch our fears dissipate as we apply God’s Word to our lives. The very thing we are holding on to (control) is, ironically, the thing we most need to let go of. As you and I come to understand that our God isn’t ruling as a tyrant but is lovingly guiding and instructing as a Father, we can loosen the tight grip on our lives that produces the bad fruit of fear. This isn’t “Let go and let God.” It’s “Let go, run hard toward your Savior, and learn to trust God.”

There is, however, a fear that we want to possess. It is a fear defined as an awestruck wonder of the holy God who condescended to become a man, died on a cross, and bore the entire wrath that you and I deserve so that we might now enter into His presence. We can enter His presence and receive grace. He can turn our weak and sinful fear into a fear of Him. That’s what He does; He turns coal into diamonds. We don’t have to be crippled by fear, because we have a God who holds the oceans in the hollow of His hand. He doesn’t promise that our lives will be easy (far from it), but He does promise to take care of us, His daughters, till the very end and for all of eternity. Ultimately we fight fear by trusting in the Lord and fearing Him.

Trillia Newbell (@trillianewbell) is a wife, mom, and writer who loves Jesus. She is the author of United: Captured by God’s Vision for Diversity (Moody).

Excerpted from Fear and Faith: Finding the Peace Your Heart Craves copyright ©2015 by Trillia J. Newbell. Used by permission of Moody Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.