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The phrase “fear not” appears 158 times in the Bible. Fear is an emotional response to a real or perceived imminent threat; anxiety is the anticipation of a future threat. Left unchecked, it can wreck our lives. I have witnessed the damage of untamed fear.

Long ago, I worked as a psychologist in correctional facilities. I interacted with newly hired psychologists who had one year to pass the psychology licensure examination. On one occasion, there was a competent, effective psychologist who failed the licensure exam by one point and was terminated. I am convinced fear hindered his performance. Fear can impact our livelihood and our relationships, and even has a spiritual cost. Consider Abraham, who on two different occasions lied about his relationship with Sarah, damaging his witness to people who did not know God. What can we do?

Assess Yourself: 

Pay attention to your focus. A good example is the ten spies who entered the Promised Land. Their attention was on potential obstacles (Numbers 13). The people were strong, fortified, and large. They also began exaggerating the obstacles, describing themselves as grasshoppers. Such focus leads to paralysis and must be defeated. 

Pay attention to your thoughts. A good example is Abraham’s situation in Egypt (Genesis 12). Abraham likely had a mental image of Pharoah killing him, leading to panic and eventually a lie. Such thinking must be defeated.

Use Your Tools:

As Christians, we can engage in techniques like devotional meditation. This involves sitting and praying for two minutes, reading a Scripture passage for about five minutes, and answering these questions: What is the meaning of the passage? What does the passage mean for me to do? What does the passage promise? How can I apply the passage? This is followed by prayer for about five minutes and quiet reflection. When applied to passages like Psalm 23 or 46, it can help defeat fear. 

We can pray. Mordecai (Esther 4), Nehemiah (Nehemiah 1), Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20), and Peter (Matthew 14) all dealt with fear by praying (and often fasting). Jehoshaphat is also an example of using music as a tool to deal with fear (2 Chronicles 20). 

To truly defeat fear, we must address our thinking. This would have been helpful for Abraham when he was fearful of Pharaoh. Ask the following questions: What is the evidence for the thought, and the evidence against it? Is the thought based on facts? Is it likely to happen, or is it based on feelings? God had promised to make a nation out of Abraham, which meant he would not be killed by Pharoah. We, too, must use facts to address our thoughts and defeat fear. We have great role models in Scripture who defeated fear. Think of Gideon, David, Elijah, and Jacob. These role models show us that we defeat fear one decision at a time. It is likely that Psalm 23 was used by David as devotional meditation and helped him defeat the lion, the bear, and eventually Goliath. As we bring our tools to bear, God helps us defeat our fears.

All of us face fear and worry from time to time. Fear can be good when it prompts us to take needed action. However, fear is bad when it keeps us from doing what needs to be done or hinders our relationships and our performance at school, church, and work. In First Aid for Your Emotional Hurts: Anxiety, Dr. Moody walks readers through biblical approaches to defeat anxiety. These biblical examples remind us we are not alone in our journey, and the practical exercises provide actions to take to help us grow and achieve victory over crippling anxiety. Check out First Aid for Your Emotional Hurts: Anxiety.

Eddie Moody
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