Fear in our society has gone from being an obsession in our own private minds to a constant surrounding presence. Everywhere we look, someone is calling out another problem that should cause us to be afraid. Sometimes I feel like a pinball, bouncing from one thing to the next—all of which are supposed to make me constantly fear. In fact, the prevailing opinion seems to be that if you do not live in anxiety all the time, something is wrong with you, or you are being ignorant.
I find it interesting that God focuses on fear so much in the Bible. I have heard it said that some form of “do not be afraid” is in the Bible 365 times. I believe, though, that God always provides a different way. It is not just a condemnation of fear so that we man-handle ourselves into judgement so we don’t fear. Instead, God tells us don’t fear, instead pray, trust, believe. He gives us something to put our energy toward rather than just telling us not to be afraid.
I was looking at a few of the more common fears today, and looking at God’s remedy for each of them. I want to move past just telling myself not to be afraid and understand the way in which God has provided an escape or a safe place to deal with the fear.
One fear that is a struggle for many of us is the fear of inadequacy. What if we walk around our daily lives constantly feeling as though we are not enough. I hear a lot of people try to combat this feeling with a recitation that they are, in fact, enough. I don’t find this entirely helpful, though, as just saying something doesn’t make it true or believable. Instead, I think we have to push into the weakness, real or imagined, and admit where we are.
Jesus says that apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5), so you’ve already met His standard! He isn’t afraid of our weakness, nor does He try to cover it up. Instead, He says that as we recognize our weakness, we can ask for His strength to make up the difference. We are enough because He is enough through us. The really cool thing about this is that no matter what the outcome, He is still the one who provides enough. We don’t have to try to manipulate the situation, or run through proofs of what you’ve done right so that you can try to help yourself believe it. I have definitely done both of those in an attempt to prove that I can be enough on my own. Spoiler alert—it didn’t work. Instead of running away from weakness and inadequacy, push right into it! Admit where you are not enough and ask God to be what you lack. The strength, then, is dependent on Him, rather than you trying harder.
Another problem can be the fear of being out of control. This is an interesting one especially because I think we can realize at some point that we actually have very little control, so the fear of being out of control is more a reality rather than a hypothetical. We can deal with this in two ways—one is we try to clamp down and take control back by controlling people, environments or anything else we can attempt to dictate. Although this may make us feel like we are strong and unafraid, it really is just a denial and leads to manipulation, isolation and bad relationships.
The other option is to admit the lack of control, and push into trusting the God who does hold control. Obviously, this can be difficult if our emotional concept of God is damaged, where we believe things about the character of God (even though we may rationally know it’s wrong) that cause us to run away from Him or not trust that His love is real. I think if control is an area of struggle for you, I would start with asking God to reveal who He really is and how He meets us emotionally, rather than continuing to believe lies about Him. Then, we can see that trusting Him makes an incredible amount of sense, and we can rest in Him. We can believe that no matter what He brings, He will also provide for every need so we don’t need to fear the future.
What about the fear of being found a failure? We can manufacture and maintain a façade which tells the world we are fine, or even better, that we are succeeding! But behind the image we are projecting, we are terrified someone will find out who we really are. Image maintenance, though, leads to performance and comparison, not love or genuine relationships. I would suggest that vulnerability begets vulnerability, and more often than not, relationships that are much more satisfying.
I discovered that I can’t compare and love at the same time. I’m commanded to love my neighbor, but I really was just comparing myself to my neighbor and there was no time for love after that. God called me to start looking at every woman I met and finding something beautiful about them. Complete strangers in the grocery store or post office became a testimony of God’s love for them and me as I looked for something in them, rather than comparing myself to them (and usually finding myself lacking and judged). I have yet to meet a woman in whom I can’t find beauty, whether it be her eyes, style, laugh, smile or determination.
When I am afraid of being found out as lacking, I can’t love anybody. When I let down my façade and quit trying to tend to it, I can really see others and love them behind their own images. This is so freeing, and much less exhausting!
What if, instead of allowing different fears to dictate our lives, we pushed into relationship with Jesus first in prayer, love and trust? When we do this, we are filled with peace that makes no sense, which protects us in a way that no fear ever could.
Don’t be pulled in different directions or worried about a thing. Be saturated in prayer throughout each day, offering your faith-filled requests before God with overflowing gratitude. Tell him every detail of your life, then God’s wonderful peace that transcends human understanding, will guard your heart and mind through Jesus Christ. Phil 4:6-7
Re-published with the permission of Hannah Morrell at Borken & Hopeful, a ministry created for those who feel broken to fin hope in Jesus.