By: Carrie Vipperman
Do not fear. Do not be anxious. Fear not. Be of good courage. The Bible practically screams out the call to not fear all over its God-breathed pages. It’s one of the most repeated instructions to the believer, which makes sense, because I would be lying if I said that fear wasn’t something I dealt with on a daily basis, sometimes hourly even. So, let’s talk about it.
The Fear that Controls
I have a child who struggles with fear. Fear of the dark. Fear of someone coming into their room to hurt them. Fear of unfamiliar noises. Fear of embarrassment. And on the list goes of fears that try to control him. At first, we would pray and then reassure him that everything was okay. But, then it wasn’t.
In the span of one week, he heard a loud noise at night, which turned out to be a gunshot fired at a nearby park. The fear of unfamiliar noises was justified. A few days later, he had ants get into his room and bite him throughout the night as he slept in his bed. The fear of something coming into his room to hurt him was justified. His fears had come true.
Unfortunately, because we live in a sinful, broken world, the things we fear will sometimes come true. But God tells us to not live in fear, so how does this work? How do we reassure others as well as ourselves when the fears are justifiable or actually come true?
Don’t ignore the Fear
Ignoring our fears or pretending they don’t have merit doesn’t help us. We can’t make them disappear, and God never says “Child, don’t be silly. That will never happen.” Because of the broken world we live in, we will have to walk through some scary situations in our life, something God knows. And because He is a loving Father, He doesn’t tell us to not fear without helping us actually do it. He never asks us to do anything in our own strength. Through the power of the Holy Spirit living in us, He provides the ability to walk through fearful circumstances with supernatural peace.
He is With Us
There’s a common pattern in the Bible with God’s commands to not fear. Most are paired with a statement that reminds us that God is with us:
- “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)
- “And the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not fear them, for I have given them into your hands.” (Joshua 10:8)
- “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.” (Psalm 118:6)
- “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32)
- “So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6)
God’s presence within us is the only reason we can walk through the fearful circumstances of life without fear. Peace in fearful realities has nothing to do with us or our circumstances and everything to do with God’s constant presence with us.
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Fear gains power as we look at the circumstances that produce it, but it becomes powerless when we fix our gaze on Immanuel, God with us.
The Early Church: Walking With Peace in Fearful Circumstances
The early church gives us a beautiful picture of what this actually looks like. The circumstances surrounding the rise of the early church were scary. (Acts 4:17-21) They had very real and possible circumstances to fear, but they didn’t let fear control them or hinder their obedience. Rather, in the midst of a very scary reality, they fixed their gaze on God who was with them.
In Acts 4:23-31, we see them praying together after being threatened by the Jewish leaders, and their prayer might surprise you. They acknowledged the fearful circumstance they were walking in (not ignoring them) as they prayed to God (Acts 4:29), but they were not overwhelmed by them. In fact, they were so consumed with the One who had saved them that they never even asked God to keep them safe or stop the Jewish leaders from following through with their threats. We don’t see them walking in fear, but filled with the Holy Spirit (God with them), they walk in peace, joy and obedience to what God called them to do. Fear had no control in their lives.
So, if you are facing your fears today, know that God sees you. He sees the circumstances you face, and He cares. He cares so much. He hates the brokenness and the sin that causes the things we fear. And if you are His child, He promises that He is with you. You don’t even have to ask Him to be near, because He promises to “not leave you or forsake you” (Deut 31:8). So, look to Him, believe that He is with you always, and trust that He is far greater than anything this world may throw our way.
Carrie is a writer and editorial lead at Grit & Virtue. Based in Mckinney, TX, she is also a wife, mother of 3, and passionate about incorporating her faith into life’s beautiful mess.