Fear. It was a hot topic in Biblical times and is still prevalent today. Sometimes it feels like the whole world is shaken by all of the violence and terror that threatens us daily.
As a matter of fact, more people may be living in fear now than ever before. 40 million American adults suffer from an anxiety disorder (ADAA), which is 18% of the population.
I am one of these Americans. I am also a Christian, and to tell you the truth, faith and fear don’t mix well. Like many of us busy hardworking citizens, I can also be a bit of a control freak. I hate it when I feel like my world is falling apart and I can’t see what’s ahead of me.
This has been my struggle since adolescence, and I’ve come to realize that life is anything but controllable.
Maybe this is also you. Maybe you are struggling with your faith, or God is bringing you to a place where you know you can’t do this on your own anymore. We are not gods of our own lives, as much as our individualistic modern culture might like us to think we are.
This is okay. We don’t have to be perfect or in control. The pressure’s off when we realize that we don’t have to have it all together. Nothing we do can stop God’s love or His purpose for our lives.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39 NIV).
It’s tiring to operate in our own strength, to try to be in control of all the problems and people around us. This was never God’s intent for us anyway; in Him we find perfect rest for our souls (Matthew 11:29).
God simply wants to give us His peace and comfort. Even the Lord rested after creating the world (Genesis 2:2), so why would we, as mere humans, not be expected to rest as well?
Even though we know that God wants us to bask in his rest, this doesn’t give us the answer to overcoming our fears and anxieties. That’s because of the one roadblock that can completely destroy our faith if not addressed.
The Root of Fear
Why are we afraid? Why do we seek control in situations we know we can’t control? The answer is simple.
We don’t really trust God.
We don’t really trust God to be who He says He is–to rule over our lives and provide our every need. If we did, then we wouldn’t worry. I’m not saying this to make you feel bad. This is a problem for every human being (myself included), and thankfully God is patient as He works in us.
It’s hard to surrender our fears to Jesus and trust Him with some of the most complicated areas of our lives. Let’s take a look at Peter, for example. Here he was in a boat on a windy lake with the other disciples, when all of a sudden they saw Jesus walking on the water.
But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14: 27-31 NIV).
Here was a beloved disciple of Jesus, being called to walk on rough waters. Even though Peter could see Jesus in the flesh, fear overtook him. The moment Peter saw how scary the elements around him were, he doubted. Jesus rescued him of course, but He also used it as an opportunity to point out Peter’s lack of faith..
Overcoming Our Fears
So what is the answer to overcoming our own fears? How can we step out upon the windy waters of life with confidence and not doubt?
This is something that can’t be accomplished in our own strength. We need to realize that Jesus is enough. Everything that we need can be found in God. This trust in God’s provision and salvation must be the core of our faith.
Instead of focusing on how big our problems are, we need to remember how big God is. When we turn away from our worries to worship and praise God, miracles happen. Perhaps our circumstances won’t automatically change, but our hearts will.
We need to anchor ourselves in the belief that God is bigger than our fears, our sins, and our problems. When we are on the boat in the middle of stormy waters, our eyes need to be focused on Jesus. When we forget about God’s faithfulness we create the perfect opportunity for the enemy to plant seeds of doubt in our minds.
The next time fear or anxiety threatens to overtake you, remember the promise that God will keep you as long as you keep your eyes on Him.