I still remember one of my earliest bouts with fear. My family was on vacation in Orlando, Florida. I was a preschooler and we were eating dinner at a restaurant called “Showbiz Pizza.” The establishment featured a giant room with an endless supply of blinking lights, arcade games, and chintzy prizes. A dining hall heralded a stage upon which robotic animals sang rehashed versions of old tunes. All seemed well to my four year old mind, until the lead singer of the band — a massive gorilla — began to belt out his tunes. I can still remember running into the parking lot and being chased by my dad. I was scared to death of the animated ape!
Though I am older, I still face fear from time to time. Sure, my fears have become a bit more sophisticated and complex, but they still exist. Fortunately, God’s Word gives advice for facing such dread and alarm. On multiple occasions, the Bible says, “Fear not.” See passages of Scripture like Genesis 15:1; Joshua 8:1; Isaiah 7:4; Zechariah 8:13; Matthew 28:5; Acts 27:24; and Revelation 1:17. From the pages of the Bible, we learn three important biblical truths about fear.
Fear is a fact of life.
It is a natural. God has given us the emotion for our own protection. It is inevitable. You can’t outrun it, and you can’t escape it. Your best bet is to deal with it appropriately, as God would intend. In the Psalms, David said, “When I am afraid, I will trust in You” (Psalm 56:3). Notice that the man after God’s own heart, expected fear, but he chose to counter it with faith. What are you afraid of? Is it failure of some sort? Maybe you have anxiety about your children or grandchildren. Perhaps you stay nervous about financial matters. Whatever the case, learn to be honest about your fears, and then learn, as David did, to deal with them through your relationship with the Lord.
Fear can ruin you.
If you don’t learn to control it, it will control you. One of the saddest stories in the Bible is found in Numbers 13:26-33. It recounts the Israelites refusal to enter into the Promise Land. Though God had guaranteed that He would give the turf to His chosen people, their fear kept them from possessing it. Mark it down — fear can keep you from the fullness of God’s blessings. Unnecessary dread can sabotage your relationships, marriage, friendships, finances, and career. It can steal your joy and peace. It can even hurt your health!
Fear can be managed.
According to the Bible, fear doesn’t have to ruin our lives. It can be managed, and the principles for management are straightforward. We only need to learn to trust in the Lord. Through the prophet Isaiah, the Lord said, “Do not fear, for I am with you” (Isaiah 41:10). According to the author of Hebrews, that Old Testament promise can be claimed by believers (Hebrews 13:6). When you live faithfully, trust in the Lord’s presence, and obey His commands, He can give release from the fear that enslaves you (see Proverbs 3:21-26). The Bible says, “The wicked flee when no one is pursuing them, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.” Learn to fight fear with faith!” (Proverbs 28:1). God can give you a holy boldness that will enable you to withstand all that life throws your way!
Dr. Patrick Latham