Fear grips us whenever we believe that apart from, or in spite of, our best efforts, something undesirable is going to happen and we can’t stop it. Sometimes fear is irrational, and sometimes it’s rational. But no matter what kind of fear it is, it always affects us.
Fear is a big deal in the story of us and God. In Scripture, the commandment repeated the most is the commandment to fear not. Someone added these up, and apparently there are 366 “fear nots” in the Bible — one “fear not” for every day of the year — including Leap Year. Plus, there are a lot of related directives such as “Do not be afraid,” “Take courage,” and “Take heart.”
The command to “fear not” fills Scripture — and we’ve got to ask why this commandment is so widespread.
The answer must be that a lot of us have a lot of fears. Fear is a giant. One of the most common giants that must fall. Fear can taunt us and harm us. Fear can get a foothold in our lives and begin to dominate us. Fear can demoralize us and ultimately diminish God’s glory in our lives. It never diminishes God’s glory within God Himself, because God’s intrinsic worth cannot be changed. But the way we reflect God’s glory gets diminished. The way we show the world who God is and the way we show ourselves who God is — that’s what is lessened.
Fear doesn’t always look like fear.
And this is where this giant gains a buy-in from huge amounts of people. Sometimes fear is flat-out terror. It’s shake-in-your-boots fright. But at other times this giant exhibits itself less overtly. It shows up as anxiety or nervousness or worry or stress or dread or tension or stomach problems. Fear chews away at our lives and erodes our sense of confidence and well-being. It robs us of sleep and rest. Fear blinds us and steals our praise.
What do we do with these fears? By the grace of God, how does this giant fall?
Digging Away the Layers
Right up front, let’s remind ourselves of this powerful truth:
The giant of fear can taunt us, but it doesn’t have the ultimate power. Jesus has the ultimate power.
Fear may seek to obscure our view of God and crush our confidence. Fear may get a grip on our throats and try to choke the very breath out of us. Fear may yell insults and try to convince us that we’re going to live with this giant the rest of our lives. But the giant of fear is already dead. It’s done for. It was conquered by Jesus on the cross. In the name of Jesus, the giant of fear must fall.
What’s our part in agreeing with God? We understand that we must hear Jesus and we must see Jesus. We must keep the focus of our hearts on Him. That’s because hearing Jesus and seeing Jesus and focusing on Jesus builds up our faith, and faith is the antidote to fear.
The opposite of fear is not being bold and courageous. The opposite of fear is faith.
And faith begins by us saying, “I have confidence in God that He is bigger than this giant.”
Developing faith isn’t an overnight fix. It might have taken a long time for us to fall into the hole of fearfulness, so it can take awhile to get back out. We’re in good company — a lot of people feel taunted by this giant. An exorbitant amount of prescriptions in the developed world are written for worry, stress, anxiety, despair, and terror — all cousins of fear. People in the Western world take more medication to sleep at night than the rest of the world takes in a lifetime. The medications aren’t all the same. Some people get their medication from a doctor, and some people get their medication from a bottle. But the end goal is always the same. We want to take the edge off. We want to decompress. We just want to forget about the things that are troubling us for a while. We want to not be afraid.
The answer is seldom as simple as saying, “Fear, go away in Jesus’ name.” Fear is a symptom of a deeper cause. We need to dig down and get to the root of the matter. Actually, there are at least three roots. Three causes. Three down-deep reasons that fear evidences in our lives. Let’s examine these three roots, and ask Jesus to jar these loose from the ground of our hearts.
- Fear comes from our conditioning.
Some people were raised in an environment of fear and worry. Maybe you were born into a family of worriers. Your mom is a grand champion worrier. Or your grandmother is. Maybe your father. Or your grandfather. You were barely out of the womb and family members were like, “Oh my gosh, don’t drop the baby. Bundle her up tight. Make sure she’s not too hot. Make sure she’s not too cold. Make sure she’s wearing a bicycle helmet. Make sure she’s invested in the right 401K.”
New parents get the jitters. That’s fine. We see this in the new parents who come to our church, and it’s okay. They want the best for their baby, and they want to do everything they can to ensure their child’s safety. The parents are “vigilant” more than fearful, and vigilance is undoubtedly a good thing in today’s culture.
But in other cases, people are raised in a genuine climate of fear. Life is treated like one big threat that never diminishes. At any minute, something could go wrong. And it probably will. The fear only progresses as a child gets older. One domino falls, and then another. After awhile, the fear in a person’s life feels like a chain of constantly falling dominoes. A person’s whole life gets built on shaky ground.
My dad could worry with the best of them, a trait that annoyed me when I was younger. Now that I am past Dad’s age when I was a teenager, I’m not laughing anymore. Like so many of his characteristics (good and not-so-good), I see fruit of those very same traits ripening in my life.
- Fear comes from our concealing.
Any time we conceal something major under the hood of our lives, fear is allowed to flourish. This is the pattern: We make mistakes. We sin. But we don’t confess. Mostly because we feel embarrassed. Or we feel ashamed. Or we don’t want to be thought of as anything less than perfect.
So we choose to keep going in the same stressful direction, living with the horrible feeling that someday whatever we’ve done will become public knowledge. We stuff those feelings of shame or embarrassment or perfectionism deep within us, and the stuffed feelings worm their way out of us in the form of anxiety. What if the real “us” gets revealed? What if we mess up again? What will everybody think?
Concealing will drive us crazy. Mistakes and sins and imperfections were never meant to be bottled up. We need to shed those feelings of impending doom at the foot of the cross.
- Fear comes from our controlling.
Some people want to control everything. The outcome of circumstances, the outcome of conversations, the outcome of other people’s lives. They soon realize that much of life can’t be controlled — particularly how other people act. So fear, stress, worry, and anxiety are born.
Do you know controlling people? They try to run not only their lives but the lives of everyone around them.
The antidote to fear is faith, and the soundtrack of faith is worship.
As a controller, you really do go crazy, because you fear all the things you can’t control. What if something doesn’t turn out the way I want it to? What if somebody messes up the plan I’ve worked so hard for? What if somebody doesn’t cooperate with all the outcomes I want?
Ask yourself this: What in your life have you truly ever controlled?
Excerpted with permission from Goliath Must Fall by Louie Giglio, copyright Louie Giglio.
Watch the Trailer: Goliath Must Fall
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Most of us struggle with fear. Many of us battle giant fear. Whether they come from our conditioning, concealing, or controlling, let’s pray together today that the Lord would jar these loose from the ground of our hearts. Come share your thoughts with us on our blog. We would love to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily