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 right hand. (Is. 41:10)
In the first part of this series, we discovered that God is looking for true worshipers. But we also learned that emotional distress often gets in the way of us coming to Him without distraction. We identified and defined the common emotions that are most damaging to our worship life: Fear is about something tangible that is right in front of you; Anxiety is about something intangible and vague that might occur, but has not yet happened; and Worry is dwelling on something negative.
Don’t let fear distract you!
Fear is an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or is threatening. It has to do with something specific or tangible: “I’m afraid of spiders…or flying…or heights. I’m afraid the neighbor’s dog will hurt my children.”
What is God’s remedy for fear? We see in His Word that there are over 365 instances of someone being told to “Fear not.” or “Don’t be afraid.” or “I am with you.” Each of these exhortations call us into deeper levels of trust. How beautifully God provides for us! There is always something reassuring to be gained when reading God’s Word. You can find a different verse every day of the year, to calm your heart and quiet your mind when a spirit of fear comes to attack your worship life.
God knows that we encounter things that cause us to fear on a daily basis, and so He offers us heavenly wisdom in His Word. By faith, we must boldly reject the spirit of fear and receive God’s Spirit which infuses our lives with power, love, and a sound mind instead:
2 Tim 1:7 –For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
Living in fear of one thing after another can torment us, but the love of God counteracts that fear and brings comfort. We are reminded in 1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.”
There are three keys to overcoming fear, anxiety, and worry that we’ll look at in this series. God gives us the spiritual weapons of faith, peace, and love. And He gives us action steps that we can use daily to fight negative emotions: the disciplines of prayer, gratitude, and reading Scripture.
Faith is having complete trust and confidence in God, based upon His faithfulness and promises to us; a strong belief in God, grounded in understanding and truth rather than proof. “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Heb 11:1)
Instead of focusing on fearful things, God invites us to focus on Him. The discipline of prayer allows us to fix our gaze upon God and not problems. Instead of telling God about your big problems, tell your problems about your big God! Talk with God your Father about your cares and concerns. He cares for you! Have faith in your righteous standing in Christ, which qualifies you to experience the reality of the covenant blessing of Abraham. Our God is great, and our faith in Him gives us full confidence and assurance of His care for us in fearful times.
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” (Phil 4:6)
The most amazing thing about prayer is not the eloquence of our words, but the fact that God really listens with interest! The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry. (Ps 34:15)
One of my favorite hymns is Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus. Friend, lift your eyes from fearful things here on earth and look to your heavenly Father above. Express to Him what’s on your heart and mind. Tell Him about it – and watch and see what our Lord will do for you! Ask that His will be done in you, for you, and through you on earth, just as His will is done in heaven. (Matt 6:10)
Open your Bible. Look for one of those 365 assurances from our Heavenly Father to fear not. Pray to Him and allow His love to calm you. Let His Word guide you and His Spirit dismantle your fears. And by doing so, He will turn your heart from fear to the heart of a true worshiper.
James E. Ward Jr. is a pastor, author, and entrepreneur who speaks nationally and internationally on cultural and spiritual issues. James is pastor and founder of INSIGHT Church in the north Chicago suburb of Skokie, IL.