Worrier or Warrior? Fighting for freedom from fear
Fear. It is everywhere. It is a common emotion for many of us and a big topic. And perhaps there are many things in this world of ours that we could be fearful or anxious about. The health of loved ones, the plight of our children, what the future holds. Fear of accidents, illness, loneliness and so forth. For some there can be a personality component to anxiety, and some are high on trait anxiety. There is also a genetic component to anxiety, some people can be low in serotonin, and there can be generational roots too. And anxiety can also come from traumatic experiences in early life. Many might not meet the criteria for an anxiety disorder, but can still carry fear, and it may be such a natural way of relating to the world and others that they are even unaware of their anxiety. Fear comes in many different forms and takes many different shapes. Fear can bring torment. And torment is awful. If you were to take an inventory of what you are most fearful of, what would it be? For me fear has taken different forms across my lifetime. For some of us it may be the fear of man, or of what people think. It could be fear of not having enough, the fear of financial insufficiency. It could be fear of losing a loved one, or fear of losing face. The list is endless. We can even worry about worrying!
And as it seems like the world is getting darker, perhaps we could be forgiven for being fearful. But God doesn’t want us to live in fear. Whatever your take on ‘End Times’, many of us who have been believers more than five minutes will know that the battlefield is in the mind. The enemy knows our weaknesses and just what pushes our buttons. We can believe lies. Joyce Meyer often says that ‘God wants us to walk by faith, but Satan wants us to walk by fear.’ The title: ‘Worrier or Warrior? Fighting for freedom from fear’ is one that came to me a few years ago. Because sometimes I can be somewhat of a worrier, but I endeavour to be a warrior.
We have to fight fear through renewing our minds on the Word of God. And what does the Bible say about fear? It says to ‘Fear not’. Did you know that the phrase ‘Do not be afraid’ is written in the Bible 365 times? I’ve only just discovered this. Google can be a marvellous tool. That’s once for every day. We can rejoice that Christ is victorious, and as believers our identity is in Him. I’ve taken a sneaky peak and the end of the book…. and we win! Sometimes it may be helpful to ask ourselves what is the worst thing that can happen? And if that happened, could you cope with it? Maybe you couldn’t on your own, but we serve an awesome God. He says ‘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). Another verse that is a comfort is this: ‘And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ (Romans 8:31-39).
We can be freedom fighters, fighting fear and other negative emotions that may commonly hold us hostage and in chains, preventing us from fulfilling the call of God on our lives. I’ve always thought that the verse in Matthew about the lillies was all very well. Of course the lillies don’t toil or spin, they are lillies! It’s much easier to be a flower than a real person with real problems and struggles! But God knows our minds and hearts. A verse that really spoke to my heart this week was from the book of Isaiah. It says: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you’. (Isaiah 43:1-3). The expectant woman sentenced to death in Sudan has been on my heart this week. What a horrifying situation. She must be terrified. It makes me think that the small things that I worry about are just that- small. Many people are praying that she is released and I really do hope and pray that she is. If the worst happens, she will go to be with Jesus and will have eternal life in heaven. Because nothing can separate us from God’s love.
God doesn’t want us to dread and to be slaves to fear. It says in His word that He has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.’ (2 Tim 1:7). It also says ”For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, (Romans 8:15). Sometimes I have asked God why he doesn’t sort me out more. And this week the response I believe I received from the Lord was loud and clear: ‘I want to, but you need to spend more time with me.’ I felt convicted to spend more quality time with the Lord. Can we honestly say that we care more about what God thinks of us, than what others do? Consider this verse in proverbs: ‘When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? (Proverbs 14:27) . We are to have a healthy fear of the Lord, a reverential awe and respect. The Bible says that ‘The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death’ (Proverbs 14:27). God is love, and the Bible says that there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. (2 John 4:18). As we meditate on God’s word and spend time with him, he will give us greater revelation of His love. We can also meditate on verses such as this beautiful psalm:
‘The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall. Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident. One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple. For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock. ‘
(Psalm 27: 14).
What would you do if you weren’t afraid? Is fear holding you back? Do you have hidden talents that you may be burying because of fear of failure? Is there a ministry area that you would love to serve in but are afraid of what others might think of you? Don’t listen to the devil who might whisper in your ear ‘Who do you think you are? You can’t do that.’ Replace that with the truth that ‘I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me.’ (Phillipians 4:13). Fear of man, or fear of people is a common struggle for many people. But as it says in the book of Proverbs, ‘the fear of man is a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.’ One of the blessings of geting older is becoming more comfortable in your own skin. I’m only in my thirties but I care less what others think of me than I did when I was in my twenties. And I’ve heard that once you get to fifty plus, you care even less!
We can exercise replacing fearful thougbts with faith-filled thoughts – just like a warrior would exercise before going into battle. Stepping out, and forging past the unhelpful thoughts, can be a daily battle. We can gently practise systematic desensitzation – exposing ourselves gradually to the thing we have feared. And we can take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5). Sometimes we ruminate, going round and round in circles talking or thinking about something that we might be worried about (yes women can be inclined to do this and I am a good example of this). But instead, how about praying? Writing down your concerns in a prayer journal may also be helpful.
Dear Lord, I thank you that you are a mighty, powerful and awesome God. And I thank you that you are also a personal God that wants an intimate relationship with each of your children. Lord, when I feel fearful let me release those things that I feel anxious about, into your hands. Because are big enough to handle my problems today. May I learn to cast my care and receive your rest and your peace. Help me not to ruminate around the mountain, but to have faith as small as a mustard seed so that I can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. I thank you that you promise in your word that nothing will be impossible for us. And help us to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ and to meditate on what is lovely, noble or worthy. Help to be a freedom fighter, a prayer warrior fighting for freedom against fear and other negative emotions, for you died so that I could walk in wholeness with you and others. I thank you for your promise that I can walk in victory as I obey you. And I receive your peace today. In Jesus name, Amen.