Overcoming fear and worry sounds crazy impossible for we who fear and worry. Yet you can overcome this dastardly duo.
Does this sound like you or someone you counsel? In Luke 21:26 we read that the last days will be characterized by fear. It certainly seems to me that fear is on the rise and peace and love are out the window in our culture!
. . . people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Luke 21:26, ESV
Fear and Worry Defined
Anxiety is a biblical term that encompasses both fear and worry. I like to think of it as the umbrella term over fear and worry. Fear relates to something from the past, perhaps something you will do anything to keep from ever happening again. It drags that event into the present and paralyzes you with fear in some way—OCD, perfectionism, people-pleasing, panic attacks, or general or specialized anxiety are some examples.
Fear torments the fearful, directing you more and more toward protecting yourself from that thing you fear might happen. It turns your focus inward. As anxiety escalates, productivity decreases. A panic attack feels like you are dying right there on the spot. Life begins to revolve around that “feared thing,” whatever it might be.
Three types of ungodly fear:
1. The fear of a person—pleasing that person, keeping him happy, or making him accept or approve of you.
2. The fear of not getting what you think you can’t live without.
3. The fear of a circumstance that you believe you can’t handle.
Fear seems to take a life of its own, ruling your life!
Worry, on the other hand, takes a potential happening from the future and paralyzes you in the present as if that were reality. It may or may not ever happen, but the anxiety level is as if it is happening right now, and your thoughts become consumed by it.
Worry takes its toll on both your body and soul. It feels very real to you.
An Antidote to Fear and Worry
Perfect love casts out fear.
By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. 1 John 4:17–21, ESV
So often my counselees can quote that verse but have no idea how love has the potential to cast out their fear. They can even quote 2 Timothy 1:7: “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
They know and assure me fear doesn’t come from God, yet they have no idea where it originates. It comes out more like the proverbial “the devil made me do it” excuse, as if they have no control over their fear and worry or the actions that follow.
So how do we help our counselees, or how do you have victory over your anxiety?
Think about David and Goliath. There were two armies, the Philistines taunting and threatening while the Israelites quaked with fear.
Since emotions are a by-product of how we evaluate our circumstances, the Israelite evaluation that the circumstances were dangerous certainly provoked the emotion of fear! For days Goliath had thundered threats while Saul’s army froze.
Enter David: same circumstances, but a different interpretation (dangerous, but his God was bigger than the dangerous circumstance), and therefore a different action (fight and kill the giant as he had the lion and the bear), and therefore a different emotion (praise and gratitude to God and peace).
David’s love for God and for his country produced righteous actions and emotions. The rest of the Israelite army missed the victor’s blessings because of their paralyzing fear and worry.
Love changes the focus from self and self-protection to loving and serving God and others. In obedience to Jesus’ greatest command (Matthew 22:36–40), we find release from our anxiety!
COUNSELING: If anxiety has got a hold of you, please reach out to one of our biblical counselors. We counsel in person in the Chicago area and also by Skype. Contact us. God bless you and yours!