Life has always been too big for me. A burden. Fear has been my constant companion.
I have been afraid of people,
Afraid. Always afraid.
Paralyzed by fear for most of my life, I learned to bury it deep.
On the surface I was bright, cheery, and cheeky.
But the fear was there.
And it kept me from being happy.
It made daily life a burden.
It prevented me from reaching out to others.
It made me allow people to walk over me.
It kept me from trusting God.
Over the years I’ve learned a few ways to overcome the fear that hounded my every step.
Fear has been so ingrained in me and it has been hard, but not impossible, to overcome it. In certain situations my first response is still fear, but then the lessons I’ve learned kick in and help me overcome the debilitating fear and anxiety.
Here are my lessons:
God needs your permission to come into your heart and change what’s going on in there. If you surrender your thoughts and feelings to Him, He will bring them into harmony with Himself. This is where true freedom is found.
Surrendering your thoughts and feelings to Him simply means saying, “Lord, I give you these fearful thoughts and feelings. Please take them from me and give me your thoughts and feelings.”
Do this every time the fear comes back, even if it means you do it 20 times a minute. That’s ok. Just keep doing it.
Whatever arises to disturb or distress us, take it to the Lord in prayer. Take even the smallest things to God.
The Bible tells us, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7
A fearful spirit is not from God. Stop believing that what fear tells you is truth. God’s word says He is with you, that He never leaves you, that He is kind and good. Choose to believe this.
“But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.” Luke 12:7
If God knows how many hairs are on your head He must really be interested in you! Believe it.
Start believing that Philippians 4:13 is true for you. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” So whether it’s answering the phone or writing an exam or suffering for Him – you can do it.
In Christ’s strength.
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” John 4:18
The law of displacement states that no two things can fill the same space at the same time. This applies spiritually as well as physically.
Invite Jesus to fill your heart with His love. Study it, meditate on it, dwell on it until it becomes real to you.
Allow His love to fill your heart and mind so that there is no room for fear.
As you do this, love will banish the fear that torments you.
When you are tempted to succumb to fear and anxiety, claim God’s power to free you and then stand in that freedom.
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” Galatians 5:1
You may be shaking as you enter that exam room, your palms may be sweating and stomach in a knot before that recital, you may be feeling sick to your stomach simply because you’re in an unfamiliar situation and don’t know what’s expected of you, but stand in the liberty that Christ died to give you.
It’s a choice.
“… for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.” Hebrews 13:5,6
Take Jesus with you to all those scary places. He’s promised that He will NEVER leave you. And God does not lie.
I have found these words to be true in my life:
“Only the sense of God’s presence can banish the fear that, for the timid child, would make life a burden.” [i]
I have been that timid child. My life has been a burden because of fear. Only taking Jesus with me everywhere has helped.
“Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4
Isaiah 26:3 “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee.”
“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” Isaiah 41:10
Go and do those scary things – one at a time. Start with small things and hang on to God’s “right hand of righteousness.” Make it as real as imagining yourself holding Jesus’ hand and walking with Him into the scary place.
Courage is not the absence of fear. It is doing brave things in spite of fear.
“And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?” Mark 4:40
According to the Bible, the antidote to fear is faith. And faith grows by exercise- by being stretched during trials and dark times. It grows by choosing to believe even when you see no evidence.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1
Related: 3 Ways to develop robust faith
Anxiety is often a result of subconsciously trying to be in control. Of trying to work things out according to how we think they should be.
Letting go of that control can be scary. It means you have to let go the reins and let God be in charge.
This requires faith – and is one of the best ways to cultivate it – choosing to take your hands off the reins.
When you focus on God’s love for you personally it will be easier to let go control, trust Him with your life and your future, and rest in His love.
This is true peace!
Jesus set the example for us in the boat during the storm – He slept, knowing His life was in His Father’s hands.
It’s the same peace that allowed Paul and Silas to sing in prison.
The same peace Daniel had in the lion’s den.
God says to you today:
“Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” Deuteronomy 31:6
Whatever your “them” is – God commands that you not be afraid of it anymore. For – the Lord your GOD goes with you and He will neither fail you nor forsake you.
“Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria (your enemy or challenge), nor for all the multitude that is with him: for there be more with us than with him: with him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God to help us, and to fight our battles.” 2 Chronicles 32:7,8
We serve a God who is so powerful – yet we forget that He could wipe out anything that threatens us, with just a thought.
“ I, even I, am he that comforteth you: who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass; and forgettest the Lord thy maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth; and hast feared continually every day because of the fury of the oppressor, as if he were ready to destroy? And where is the fury of the oppressor?” Isaiah 51:12
Instead of dwelling on whatever is causing your anxiety and fear, turn to God’s word and flood your mind with truth.
This post is full of scripture and I’ve listed a bunch of verses below. Write them out, memorise them, stick them all over the house, sing them. Fill your mind with God’s “It is written” and overcome anxiety and fear as Jesus overcame the devil in the wilderness.
“For the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.” Isaiah 41:13
“But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.” Proverbs 1:33
“Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh. For the Lord shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.” Proverbs 3:25, 26
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7
“And it shall come to pass in that day that the Lord shall give thee rest from thy sorrow, and from thy fear, and from the hard bondage wherein thou wast made to serve.” Isaiah 14:3
“When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet.” Proverbs 3:24
“For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” Romans 8:15
“…for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.” Hebrews 13:5b, 6
“The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.” Proverbs 29:25
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27
How do you overcome fear and anxiety?
[i] Education 258, Ellen G White