Fighting a Fearful Heart
"The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8 Let's agree that there are many legit things to be afraid of today: war, nuclear bombs, kids getting kidnapped, plane crashes.... twitter. Sometimes fear can become overwhelming because these aren’t little things, y’all! If you turned on the news right now, I would be that they are talking about at LEAST one of these things. The Bible is full of stories about fear, that's why there are so many versions of "DO NOT BE AFRAID" throughout scripture. I found myself in one of those such stories last week.
As Nehemiah is rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem, MANY enemies threatened to deter his efforts. They were coming for him, y'all, and he knew it. But then Nehemiah notes that they were attempting to frighten him that he might sin. And if he would sin, then they would have that against him.
Interesting, right? Frighten him that he might SIN. We can confidently conclude here that fear leads to sin. Think about fear as a kind of a "gateway drug" to other sin. When we are fearful, we tighten our grip on reality. We hold tightly onto our children, our marriages, our homes and our money. We place expectations on people to protect us instead of God. We begin to take instead of give. We hoard our time, our possessions and our encouragement due to fear. Taking it one step further, let me point out one person in scripture who was never afraid. Jesus. Even as he was carrying the cross up the hill to his death. Even as the soldiers came for him in the garden. Even in the wilderness as Satan was attempting to throw him off course. Scripture never describes him as fearful, worried or even concerned. His attitude always was one of confident peace.
This doesn't mean he wanted the trial, wanted to die, wanted conflict. It just means that he was confident not in himself (even though he was Jesus, I mean, hello) but in God's plan. As a believer, I should strive to be more like Jesus with every passing day. Many days (most days) this alludes me, y’all, but this should always be my goal.
So why do I continue to fear when fear wasn't part of Jesus's life and only leads me down a path of doubt? Let's take a quick look at what happens when I am afraid. When I fear man’s opinion of me more than God’s I am led to pride, anxiety, idolatry. When I fear something happening to my children I am prone to worry, missed opportunities and instilling fear into my kids. When I live in fear of the future, I am essentially saying that I trust myself MORE than God.
The antidote to all of that fear is trust. So instead of asking ourselves what how we can avoid fear, we should be asking ourselves how can I trust God more?
I simply cannot control the emotions and thoughts that begin to rise in my heart when I feel fearful. We live in a sinful world, I am a sinner and I will have worldly reactions. But I can control what I do with those emotions and thoughts.
When I feel fear rising, I can :
Claim the promises in scripture over and over and over again. Claim that He will never leave me or forsake me. Claim that He purposes all things for the glory of the One Who loves me Claim that He goes before me. Claim that He is faithful, loving, compassionate and good. Claim that He will make a way where this is no way. I can, in good faith, claim these truths over and over again until these words become a reality in my heart. What are you afraid of today? Circumstances that you can't change, consequences that are looming, or like Nehemiah are you afraid of people who are coming for you?
Ask yourself this question as that fear begins to rise in your heart today : are you going to allow fear to rule over you or instead allow it to push you back into the arms of a God Who loves you?