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Pastoral 2017

DEALING WITH FEAR

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Introduction

Fear can grip our hearts anytime. It can develop within us due to tragic circumstances, such as failures, sickness, urgent financial needs, the death of a dear one, etc. It can also emerge due to overwhelming responsibilities, anxiety over the future, etc. Whatever be the cause of fear, if we do not appropriately deal with our feelings of fear, it can cause considerable damage to our lives. Fear is a tyrant – who subdues our senses, emotions and even numbs our mind and body. Worst of all, it can cause us to act dishonourably and defiantly before the Lord. So, Scripture urges us to act decisively to expel fear from within us.

Our modern world, with all its immense research and medical advancement, has not been able to cure people of their phobias. There is a very long list of phobias that people suffer from. Modern society is a world of phobia and panic attacks. People are looking for cures, but to little avail. Many survive on anti-depressant pills and suchlike, but in the process becoming addicted to them!

We, Christians, have a great resource of wisdom in the Scriptures that can help us to deal with the fears of our hearts. We also have the gracious ministry of the Holy Spirit, the Divine Comforter, in our hearts. He would aid us with His wisdom and power if we yield to Him in faith and obedience.

Hence, Scripture exhorts us to overcome fear by yielding in faith to divine counsel of His Word, prayer and obedience. Let us therefore, with thanksgiving to God, meditate on the divine solutions that God’s Word offers us. Unusual troubles may encompass us, but we can overcome our sense of helplessness by trusting and obeying the counsels of God’s Word.

When Fear Grips You, Go to His Word

Many believers, who have experienced disturbing and heart-wrenching crises, found strength and joy in God’s Word to overcome their fears. The Bible provides us with wonderful promises of God to strengthen us to face our trials with a joyful and resolute spirit. Consider a few of those promises mentioned below:

“The LORD will give strength unto his people; the LORD will bless his people with peace” (Psalm 29:11). “He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: but they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:29-31).

“He would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man” (Ephesians 3:16).

Having found such wonderful promises of God’s empowerment to face life’s troubles and burdens, let us pray like the psalmist: “My soul melteth for heaviness: strengthen thou me according unto thy word” (Psalm 119:28). Just like the psalmist, we too must be deeply moved by God’s promises to pray with faith that God would strengthen us to face our deeply troubling circumstances and challenges.

When being opposed and ridiculed, the servant of the Lord waxed strong in God’s promises and prayed earnestly: “Let thy mercies come also unto me, O LORD, even thy salvation, according to thy word. So shall I have wherewith to answer him that reproacheth me: for I trust in thy word. And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth; for I have hoped in thy judgments. So shall I keep thy law continually for ever and ever” (Psalm 119:41-44). God’s Word was his answer to his enemies. He did not rely on his personal wisdom, scholarship, eloquence or riches to ward off the reproaches of men. The Word of God was his only and best weapon of defence and strength. He testified, “This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me” (Psalm 119:50).

Proverbs 3:21-26 tell us how we can overcome fear by having the right attitude towards God’s Word. “My son, let not them depart from thine eyes: keep sound wisdom and discretion: so shall they be life unto thy soul, and grace to thy neck. Then shalt thou walk in thy way safely, and thy foot shall not stumble. When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet. 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.”

When Fear Grips You, Yield to the Spirit of God

The natural thing to do when fear comes is to yield to all kinds of thoughts and emotions that arise in our hearts. But it is important to the child of God that he should not obey his own heart, but the voice of the Spirit of God who is within him. Scripture reminds all true believers that “God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).

Fear comes into Christians’ hearts when they fail to be filled with the Spirit. In other words, it is when we listen to our own sinful lusts or feelings (doubts, anxieties, envy, jealousy, anger, bitterness, etc.) more than the assurances of the Spirit that we become fearful. Timothy was a child of God who has the Spirit of God within him. But when he allowed the intimidations and persecutions around him to affect his thoughts, he became timid and ashamed of the Christian witness. So, Paul reminded him that such a fearful approach to life and ministry is not of God, because God has made available to His children His power, love, and sound mind through His Spirit.

In Romans 8:15-16, Paul reminds us concerning the ministry of the Spirit within us: “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. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God”. The Spirit of God will grant us understanding and assurances concerning our special relationship with God as His children. Like a frightened child is comforted and strengthened by the presence of his father, the Christian too is greatly encouraged by the ministry of the Spirit that sheds abroad God’s fatherly love in our hearts. We must then yield to the assuring voice and leading of the Spirit within us.

When the apostle Paul felt the fear about preaching the Gospel before men of intellect, he yielded to the Spirit of God. He says, “And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Corinthians 2:3-4). Like Paul, we need to deal with our fears in the demands of the ministry by yielding to the power of the Spirit that works in us.

When Fear Grips You, Trust Him Even More

Like the psalmist, we too must confess in prayer, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee” (Psalm 56:3). When we are afraid, we must exchange fear with prayer of faith. When fear grips us, let us remember that the time has come to prove how genuinely and firmly we trust the Lord.

If we do not deal with fear, we may waste a lot of time worrying. It will drive us to senseless behaviours and actions. So, do not let fear remain. As soon as fear arises, you must exercise faith in God by communing with Him in prayer and taking hold of His promises.

Fearful times come to all. But how blessed it is that we can rejoice in God’s love and promises. So brethren, let us transform the moments of fear into times of faith, prayer and obedient actions. ■

 

 

Pastoral Exhortation