By Meg Bucher, Crosswalk.com
The human propensity to fear, other than in healthy reverence to God’s character, is used by the enemy to distract us from the full life in Christ we are called to live. Faith is a powerful muscle, but it must be developed in tandem to our relationship with Christ. Through His Holy Spirit living in us, we have the power to thwart fears that attempt to trip, badger, and harass us. Faith shields us from unhealthy fear. “Fear stands at the doorway of our destinies and dares us to step inside,” writes Sharon Jaynes for "Your Daily Prayer," “It bullies us into believing that if we step across the threshold we will fail, or worse yet, God will fail us.” Faith creates a barrier through which we can astutely filter fear, align it with God’s truth, and lay it at His feet. Developing faith that conquers fears takes daily discipline, constant prayer, knowledge of who God is, and recognizing who He says we are.
5 Ways to Keep Faith over Fear
Here are five ways to grow in faith and conquer your fear.
1. Define the Proper Source of Confidence for Faith
“Such confidence we have through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.” 2 Corinthians 3:4-5
This verse answers a question a few chapters earlier in Paul’s letter, referring to the two tracks of human life on earth. We are either following Christ and being saved or powering through on our own accord and perishing. (NIVSB) If we aren’t willing to do the work of developing our faith, we will get caught in fear’s undertow. God has not given us a spirit of fear,” 2 Timothy 1:7 reminds, “but of power of love and of a sound mind.”
“Human beings are born with two fears: fear of falling and fear of loud noises,” writes Dan Johnson for “Home Word” devotions, “Fear is inborn, so daily life in Christ requires replacing old fears with new.” Confident faith is rooted in the quiet moments with God, and in pursuit of our Savior. Fear of God propels our confidence by who He says we are. Fear of man is based on what the world says we should be. “Fear of God means nothing less than caring more about what God thinks than what people think,” to further quote Mr. Johnson, “Being like Christ means transcending our biology and living as children of our great God.”
2. Develop the Strength to Endure Fear
“Consider him who endured such opposition for sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:3
Fear is a common thread of humanity, and our reaction to it exposes the condition of our faith. A long-distance runner must accumulate stamina and strength. We must persistently train ourselves to know and live God’s truth. It allows us to swap fear for peace, just as a runner pushes through impossible amounts of pain to go the full distance.
“Everyone has fears,” assures Pastor Rick Warren in “Daily Hope,” "your problem isn’t that you’re afraid. It’s what you do with the fear that really matters.” Jesus selflessly walked through immense pain to get to the cross. When we’re training, that’s the attitude we are to adopt. Isaiah 41:10 says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous hand.” Sometimes we look back years later and trace His hand on our steps. But, just like a runner doesn’t feel fit after the first month of running, we are getting stronger with each faithful stride.
3. Pray for Perspective
“The LORD sets prisoners free; the LORD opens the eyes of the blind. The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous.” Psalm 146:7-8 ESV
Our view of God is limited on this earth. As we develop our faith, we begin to see glimpses of life through His eternal perspective. His perspective is eternal, He is just.
“Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose help is in the LORD his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever; who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry.” Psalm 146:5-7a ESV
God is in sovereign control, even as the earth unravels. When we’re tempted to fear all we fail to understand, faith keeps us from coming completely unglued. “Reality tells us so much of what we spend our time worrying about never even happens,” writes Debbie McDaniel, “Living under the weight of the ‘what if’s’ is a hard place to dwell.”
4. The Right Relationships Produce Bravery and Faith
A transparent relationship with God is a powerful weapon over fear. Things we wouldn’t cry out to a soul on this earth we can freely bring to His presence. He hears us and is close to the brokenhearted. “There is no such thing as a fearless Christians,” writes John Bloom of desiringGod.org, “one of the telltale signs that he’s answering my prayers is that I’m forced to face numerous situations and decisions that incite fear- the kind of fear that makes me want to withdraw from the bold words and deeds of love in Jesus’ name that these situations and decisions require.”
The VOICE paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 1:9 ensures, “Count on this: God is faithful and in His faithfulness called you out into an intimate relationship with His Son, our Lord Jesus the Anointed.” Jesus was extremely transparent with His friends on earth. He washed their feet, explained everything the Father told Him to them. Jesus wept with His friends, He prayed with intimately with and for them, healed them, forgave them, and ultimately died for them … and us. He calls us friends. He lives in us, yet so often we don’t let Him in. We honor our fears over our God when we consider their strength to be more than the One that conquered death.
“There is no fear in love,” 1 John 4:18 assures, “But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” Our Father put us in communities, to support and encourage each other. “Fear and worry can consume you if you’re not careful,” wrote Ryan Duncan, “and it’s important for Christians to surround themselves with a solid support system.” We are not meant to live life alone. It’s much scarier that way, and grants fear more power. Galatians 6:2 advises, “carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Lean into community, and trust God has placed people in proximity as extensions of His love.
5. Clearly Define Self-Care and Faith
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
We cannot live life to the full if we are running on empty. God built Sabbath into our lives, and it’s important to honor it. We are wise to take healthy steps to reach the full potential God has purposed us for, but neglecting our physical steps does not decrease His love for us. “Modern medical research has proved that worry can actually break down your resistance to disease,” wrote Greg Laurie, “Excessive worry can shorten your life.”
Self-care includes guarding God’s Truth as our top priority, knowing our focus drives the overall direction of our faith. “Paul says physical training is of some value,” writes Kevin DeYoung, “It’s good to want to care for our bodies. But the fear of man turns a healthy self-care into an obsession with our shape, color, and size.” God should be the only part of our routine we can’t live without.
Keep Faith over Fear
Faith is listening and trusting beyond what we can see and make sense of. Scripture says God shields the righteous, and to cast our anxieties on Him because He cares for us. Faith over fear is choosing Him every day, and every time something threatens to steal our attention. Keven DeYoung wrote of Jesus, “when it came to living a life in obedience to God, he knew better than to rely on the opinions of men.” The source of all community on this earth is God, but be cautious not to put any other relationship above Him. Faith a decision to focus on what He says is true instead of wondering over the “what-ifs” in life. Christ never promised us easy, but He did promise we wouldn’t walk through anything alone. Faith holds on for dear life when the pain is unexplainable, unfair, and seemingly never-ending.
Meg writes about everyday life within the love of Christ as an author, freelance writer, and blogger at Sunny&80. Her first book, “Friends with Everyone,” is available on amazon.com. She earned a Marketing/PR degree from Ashland University but stepped out of the business world to stay at home and raise her two daughters. Besides writing, she leads a Bible Study for Women and serves as a Youth Ministry leader in her community. She lives in Northern Ohio with her husband, Jim, and two daughters.