Playing off of Psalm 139 I have a good friend who quips that she is “fearfully made.” I don’t think of myself as a fearful person, but if I’m honest, I am much more fearful than I care to admit. Fear and worry go hand in hand. When I was single I worried I would never find the right man to marry. After Larry and I were engaged, I worried I might lose him like I’d lost my mother. When we had children, every article in the paper about some tragedy involving a child wrenched my heart. Many fear the loss of a job, a medical report or some pending procedure. World tragedies flash before our eyes on the news. But not all fears are monumental. We worry about paying bills, growing old or the disappointments of those we love. On and on, small things, big things, worry and fears nibble and devour our peace and joy if we let them.
I have good news for all who are “fearfully made.” We aren’t alone. Have you ever noticed how many verses address fear and worry? “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous, do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go,” (Joshua 1:9). Or Matthew 6, where Jesus tells us not to be anxious about what we shall eat, drink or wear. Nor are we to worry about anything concerning the future; instead “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.”
The psalmist honestly expressed his fears and concerns. Notice the progression out of fear into faith in Psalm 56:3-4. “When I am afraid, I will put my trust in Thee. In God, whose word I praise, in God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me?” Did you catch the progression? He went from “being afraid” to “I will trust” to “I have put my trust in God,” to “I shall not be afraid.” David used fear as a reminder to rein in his thoughts and focus his trust on God.
In 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 Paul says “We are destroying speculations,” and “taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” How many of our fears would vanish if we destroyed speculations?
Both David and Paul went through some harrowing experiences. For them to find peace in those places offers real hope to us in whatever circumstance we may face.
God has equipped us with tools to overcome fear. Philippians 4:4-9 tells us to turn those worries into prayers. Imagine what that would do for your prayer life! What would happen if every time you were tempted to fret, worry or fear, you chose to praise God and thank Him for His love and power and dialogue with Him instead? The passage tells us what would happen; “the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension will guard your hearts and you minds in Christ Jesus.”
Peace, sweet peace; bumper stickers advertise it, politicians promise it, but only Christ delivers it. You can’t buy it with money or find it in a pill. It comes from abiding in Him.
We must redirect our thoughts away from our fears and onto the character of God. We banish renegade thoughts that go against His truth. Faith is not a feeling. But as we walk in faith, peace has room to grow and flower.
We choose the genre our thoughts dwell on, that material determines whether we experience peace or anxiety. “Finally brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything is worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things…practice these…and the God of peace shall be with you.”
If we practice taking our thoughts captive to Christ, we not only experience the peace of God, we experience the God of peace. God is not some peace dispenser. He is the prince of peace. Now that is really good news! What begins as worry can lead us into deeper fellowship with the triune God.
What would happen if we practiced this? Why not try it and let me know how good it feels to triumph over fear and walk in faith. After all, as Paul reminded Timothy, our new nature is not “fearfully” made; rather God has given us a spirit of power, love and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7).
P.S. I highly recommend Max Lucado’s inspirational book “Fearless: Imagine Your Life without Fear.”
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