The Coronavirus pandemic has brought fear to the hearts of many people. A virus that is rapidly spreading around the world and bringing an ever-increasing number of people dying. Add to that, an uncertainty concerning the future, the loss of jobs and income, the stock market crash, the suspension of sporting events, schools and church services canceled, and the ongoing call to limit contact with other people. Is it any wonder there is growing fear and anxiety in the community?
FEAR – A DEFINITION
Fear is defined as ‘an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain or a threat.’ Fear is an emotion that causes behavioral changes, such as fight or flight, or even freezing. Fear makes us feel something negative will happen even if we don’t know what that is going to be.
When we are faced with a potentially dangerous situation, it is natural to experience some fear. If you are walking in the woods and you are suddenly confronted by a big bear or a mountain lion, chances are that you would experience fear. It is a normal response to danger.
In some cases, this fear is a ‘natural wisdom’ that protects you from dangerous situations. For example, fear can keep you from going to the edge of a precipice, or can stop you from touching a hot stove; all things children need to learn.
Natural fear is not necessarily sinful, but it can become so if we don’t draw on the promises of God.
It is only to be expected that Satan would use the weapon of fear to thwart the people of God. There is such a thing as a ‘spirit of fear’ that can grip people. See 2 Timothy 1:7. I well remember an experience by wife Dorothy and I had many years ago in Australia. We were away at our holiday cottage north of Sydney with a group of young people from our church. During a time of sharing, we were all together in the living room. All at once, without anyone saying anything, people began to experience a feeling of fear. When we realized what was happening as people shared how they were feeling, we prayed, claiming the power of the blood of Jesus and the authority of the name of Jesus. Just as quickly as it came, the feeling of fear left. It was a demonic spirit of fear, that did not have a natural cause. We are not intended to live under such a spirit. Satan is a defeated foe.
THE FEAR OF THE LORD
There is, however, a ‘positive’ form of fear to be found in Scripture; that is, ‘the fear of the Lord.’ This fear is not like the others and doesn’t involve terror (with the exception of someone who is not a Christian and is faced with a godless eternity. See Hebrews 10:31). It is for the believer a matter of reverence or awe as we stand in the presence of a holy God. Scripture declares, ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’ (Proverbs 9:10) and ‘The fear of the Lord is to hate evil’ (Proverbs 8:13).
Cindy Jacobs, in the book ‘The Refiners Pledge,’ quotes Joy Dawson’s understanding of the fear of the Lord. ‘The more we study the holiness of God from His Word, the more we will understand the extent of His hatred of sin.’ Cindy comments, ‘As we continually walk in the reverential fear of the Lord, our aversion to sin grows and actually deflects evil temptation. We find ourselves in deepening intimacy with God as we develop a true friendship with Him.’
FREEDOM FROM FEAR
God does not want His people to live in fear. There are 365 verses of Scripture that speak against fear, one for each day of the yar. Let’s just remember a few of them.
- ‘For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind’ (2 Timothy 1:7).
- ‘Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil’ (Psalm 23:4).
- ‘The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid’ (Psalm 27:1)?
- ‘Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me’ (John 14:1).
Remember how often Jesus said, ‘Do not be afraid!’ So how do we overcome fear?
HOW TO OVERCOME FEAR
There are many ways God uses, but let me mention a few steps:
- Recognize and identify your fear. Don’t live in denial.
- Run to the roar. In other words, face your fears and expect victory. We can do this by:
- Laying hold of God’s promises in His Word and through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit.
- Seeking the help of others if necessary, including asking for their prayers.
- Experiencing the power of praise and thanksgiving and claiming His peace.
- Remembering the words of Philippians 4:6-7, ‘Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.’
RUN TO THE ROAR
Years ago, I heard a story about lions by Tammi Faye Bakker entitled ‘Run to the Roar.’
This particular story is about an old king. You see, a lion can only be the king as long as he is strong enough to hold his position. There is always someone fighting and trying to take over his kingship. Usually, by the time the old king is kicked out, he doesn’t have any teeth and only a few claws. His hair is all matted; he has arthritis in the joints; he can no longer fight to keep his position. So a younger lion becomes the new king.
But it is interesting they don’t throw him out completely. He still has his place in the pride. However, now his sole job in the pride is to roar when they go on their hunts. When the lions go hunting, the great big old mean-looking ferocious lion, with no teeth and no claws, stands to one side. And over to the other side, hidden in the bushes and thickets, are the young hunter lions.
When all of a sudden, the antelope pops out of the bushes the great big old lion, the former king, looks at it and begins to roar. That old lion’s roar scares that little animal so bad that it runs the other way. . . right into the waiting jaws of the hunter lions who tear him to pieces and destroy him. If that poor little prey had only run toward the roar, there wouldn’t have been a thing that could hurt him. The old lion was too old and weak. All he had left was his roar.
The Bible says the devil is going around as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. But, praise God, he has already been defeated. All he has left is a scary roar; Jesus took care of that! He’s just a mean, hateful old devil that has been defeated at the Cross of Calvary. He can’t do anything to us.
The big mistake we make as Christians is that we run away from him. As we run away from him, we run right into all the imps of hell who torment us and fill us with fear and defeat. Many people are destroyed by fear and torment by these imps because they do not run towards their fear.
A PERSONAL TESTIMONY
In 1971, the opportunity came for me to travel from Australia, where I was living, right around the world. The original purpose was to go to Teen Challenge in New York. Up until that time, I had never been in a plane, and on my first flight from Sydney to Perth, I experienced a panic attack when I discovered I suffered from claustrophobia. In the Perth airport, during a transit stop, I walked up and down praying. I felt like leaving the plane and walking back to Sydney. But I had committed myself to fly right around the world. I then discovered that I had to run towards the roar. I had to recognize my fear and, by the grace of God, overcome it, which I did. I realized that if I didn’t face my fear right then and there, then I would be grounded in Australia. I would never be able to minister anywhere else. However, because I faced my fear, in the next forty years, I ministered in some forty countries and traveled by air over a million miles. You can, with God’s help, overcome fear by standing in faith on God’s word and drawing upon the power of the Holy Spirit.
A CLOSING THOUGHT
President Roosevelt declared in the days of the depression, ‘We have nothing to fear but fear itself.’
So, let’s live in faith and not in fear; let us live the victorious life Jesus died to give us.