This month we will explore fear in a Christian’s life and the life of their family. God admonishes us ‘do not fear.’ A popular Christian movie shared that God put 365 ‘Do not fears’ in His word. A quick search shows that there is debate about the accuracy of that statement, but the reality is that whether you believe God said, “Do not fear” 29 times or addressed the issue of not fearing over 500 times, He does not want us to remain motionless in life due to fear.
Many articles we find about God’s Word and fear include titles or statements such as “Fight fear with… faith, hope, courage, love, the Lord, or Scripture, etc.” The trouble of fighting fear WITH something is the very definition of the word fight itself: ‘a violent struggle, an argument or quarrel, an attempt to repress, or a campaign against something.’ Exodus 14:14 says, “The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” We do NOT fight fear, friends. The Lord does. We put Scripture in our hearts, we battle principalities that try to induce fear, we move forward in God’s commands, but we DO NOT FIGHT FEAR. God fights our fears by our trusting in Him.
Exodus 14:13 leads in with “And Moses said to the people, ‘Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again.'” God does that battle. We are not to engage in battles that are the Lord’s. We are to REST and TRUST and KNOW that He will do what He says He will do. He tells us to be courageous; He tells us NOT to fear. He never tells us to fight fear. So, how does a good Christian deal with fear? I believe we are to fight WITH fear. Let me explain.
Have you ever thought about the many definitions of the word ‘with’? Yes, ‘with.’ It is the 16th most frequently used word in the English language, so we all must know its definition, right? Well, with ten different possibilities and those possible definitions holding another two or three variations within them, we come out with about eighteen ways to use the word ‘with.’ Here are five of those definitions with three subsets in one:
in the company of
indicating responsibility – “leave it with me”
in opposition to – “we started fighting with each other”
indicating the manner or attitude of the person doing something – “with great reluctance”
in relation to – “my father will be angry with me”
affected by (a particular fact or condition) – “with no hope”
indicating the cause of an action or condition – “trembling with fear”
because of (something) and as it happens – “wisdom comes with age”
Why share all that with you? An understanding of all the variations of ‘with’ shows us that we can do anything God calls us to IN THE COMPANY OF fear; fear does not get to be the controlling factor. We can deal with life’s situations IN OPPOSITION TO the fear we feel. We might be fearful but that merely INDICATES THE MANNER IN WHICH we are still doing something. We might be AFFECTED BY fear, but our focus is to be on God, not our fear.
Those of you who know me, or have heard my testimony, know that I had a stranger enter my bedroom in the dead of night when I was three and a half years old. The light reflecting off his eyes from the corner of the hallway as he chose my room to enter is an image that I have never forgotten. Thankfully, I don’t remember all of his visit to my room; I do not remember being sexually assaulted though he did caress my hair and back, and, prayerfully, what I do remember is all that happened. The results of this event brought childhood years of checking every closet, window, curtain, stove, cabinet, and more before being able to go to bed. It brought numerous missed moments of fun and laughter because I assumed someone was just waiting to hurt me, so I isolated myself and shut down at dark; that made high school extracurricular events a persistent struggle. When my boys were little and my husband left for his night shift position, all of life was spent indoors. It brought a still continuing fear of the dark. My church small group knows that once it gets dark, my ability to concentrate on the Bible discussion diminishes until the blinds are closed, and I feel safe again. I figured I was defective; I must not be a good Christian who trusts God if I still feel fear.
Now, unfortunately, many have you have way worse memories. My situation was quite mild comparatively; my heart breaks with many stories I have been told. The fear of violation is very real, and when it happens, it expands the grip fear holds in our hearts and minds. Our brains are wired to remember… sometimes it is a conscious memory. Sometimes, it is not. Either way, our fear can be prompted by a sound, a smell, a vaguely similar situation, a touch, or even just silence.
Why, why, why would God allow us to bring up those very memories that keep us tied to pain and suffering, especially when He tells us we are not to fear? He designed our brains to remember. God is good all the time, so maybe, it is because we are to fight in the company of our fearful feelings, not just try to banish them away without acknowledging our pain and suffering. We must recognize the battle of good and evil in this world, and God’s beautiful peace as we give Him the battle and we rest in Him.
YOU ARE GOING TO FEEL FEAR, BUT IT DOES NOT DEFINE YOUR ACTIONS.
“You shall not fear them, for it is the Lord your God who fights for you.” –Deuteronomy 3:22
“And the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Do not fear and do not be dismayed. Take all the fighting men with you, and arise, go up to Ai. See, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, and his people, his city, and his land.’” –Joshua 8:1
“I am acting with great boldness toward you; I have great pride in you; I am filled with comfort. In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy. For even when we came into Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were afflicted at every turn—fighting without and fear within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus” –2 Corinthians 7:4-6
While we cannot choose whether we feel the feeling of fear, we can decide what we DO in the face of that feeling. Let me use a parallel concept as an example. What do we do in the face of the feeling of anger? God says, “Do not sin in your anger.” Anger is a feeling that is present; it is not a sin. What we do with the feeling of anger can be sinful.
Thus, fight sin, fight poverty, fight injustice, fight complacency, but in all these things, let the Lord give you strength to fight WITH fear, and you will end up victorious and courageous in Him!
Please join us next week as we explore more about fighting with fear and how to stop being paralyzed by it.