How to Fight Fear: The Third Secret of the Good Life
Have you ever wondered how your fear overlaps with other people’s fears? I think we’d find we are far more fearful that we realize.
There is healthy fear, and unhealthy fear. One of the roles of Christianity is a new way to understand what fear is and how God helps us be confident even in the most trying circumstances. Today, we’re going to look at what God has given us to fight the fear in our lives.
In a 2022 survey of Americans, almost 9 out of 10 reported daily anxiety about inflation, with over 60% reporting daily anxiety over everything from health to relationships to global events.
Our recent history as a culture is full of trials that tempt us toward fear, whether it presents itself as a low rumble of worry always operating in the background of our mind, or a crippling anxiety that controls our every decision. When it comes to fear, the Bible has good news and bad news for us. First, the bad news: fear is as present a reality today as it was when the Bible was written, and there is no promise that circumstances will improve in a way that would give us reason not to fear.
But the good news? What God promises us is not deliverance from fearful circumstances, but deliverance from a fearful heart. In Genesis 50, Joseph’s first words for his brothers were “do not be afraid.” The good news Joseph gave to his brothers pales in comparison to the good news we find in Jesus, who repeatedly affirms that we do not need to be afraid. In Christ, we can live in uncertainty and still have peace.
(For the 19-30% of Americans with an anxiety disorder, simply “trusting God” is not the answer to a complicated illness. If your anxiety interferes with your ability to lead a normal life, there are treatments that can help alongside of your spiritual practices).
The secret of the good life is NOT that suffering won’t happen, but that we can be different people, people without fear, because of Christ.
Verses This Week:
John 14: 26-27: But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
Deuteronomy 31:6-8: Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the Lord swore to their ancestors to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance. The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
Hebrews 13:5-7: Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.
Practical Steps to Fight Fear:
- Watch out for what clutters your life. What we fear is often what we think we need to live in peace. Good things become ultimate things, Tim Keller says. When these good things become idols, we fear losing them so much we create anxiety around them.
- Practice contentment. This is like changing the channel in your brain and choosing to focus on what God has given you and his promises to you.
- Look for role models. Being in local community is so important for this reason. You need real, in the flesh human beings, who are role models for what it looks like to live out the Christian life.
Remember: healthy fear is an instructor; unhealthy fear is a taskmaster.
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See January 16, 2023