Fear Not

Fear Not

Posted on March 25, 2020

BY CATHY SCHAEFER, GRACE ATTENDER

We are currently in the midst of a strange and unprecedented situation that is changing and escalating with every passing day. Our lives are being drastically and dramatically disrupted by the world-wide pandemic caused by Coronavirus19. There is not one of us who hasn’t been affected by it. Never in my life have I seen entire countries literally brought to their knees by such a small organism as a flu virus. Never have I witnessed such wide-spread fear, apprehension, confusion and anxiety. Never have I observed so many people rushing about in a frenzy to hoard supplies. Never have I experienced a time when daily life came to such a sudden and complete stop. Never have I seen churches, schools, and businesses closed, so many events cancelled, and so many government restrictions enacted. No doubt about it, there is a lot to be fearful about right now!

Fear is a natural and normal human emotion that we all experience. There are times when fear is helpful and can even save us from danger. However, ongoing feelings of fear that override our positive emotions can be debilitating. God knows we will feel fear, but He does not want us to be controlled by it. God does not intend for us to live out of a place of fear. 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 (NKJV) This is probably why Fear not; Do not be afraid, or some variation on that message is found over 350 times in the Bible and is the most repeated command God gives us. For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. ~Isaiah 41:13 (NIV)

Fear can also adversely affect our mental, emotional, and physical health. Here are a few of the negative effects of fear I discovered in an article online entitled “Impact of Fear and Anxiety.” (www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/impact-fear-and-anxiety)

Impact of Chronic Fear

Whether threats to our security are real or perceived, they impact our mental and physical well-being.

  1. Physical Health: Fear weakens our immune system and can cause cardiovascular damage, gastrointestinal problems such as ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome, and decreased fertility. It can lead to accelerated ageing and even premature death.

  2. Memory: Fear can impair formation of long-term memories and cause damage to certain parts of the brain, such as the hippocampus. This can make it even more difficult to regulate fear and can leave a person anxious most of the time. To someone in chronic fear, the world looks scary and their memories confirm that.

  3. Brain Processing and Reactivity: Fear can interrupt processes in our brains that allow us to regulate emotions, read non-verbal cues and other information presented to us, reflect before acting, and act ethically. This impacts our thinking and decision-making in negative ways, leaving us susceptible to intense emotions and impulsive reactions. All of these effects can leave us unable to act appropriately.

  4. Mental Health: Other consequences of long-term fear include fatigue, clinical depression, and PTSD.

Lately, I’ve noticed myself experiencing some level of fear and anxiety pretty much every time I listen to the news! (Which is why I am limiting my exposure to it. I want to be informed, but not inundated by bad news.) Fear is looming large in our lives right now. But when I look at the negative effects of fear, and also understand that God “did not give us a spirit of fear,” I am determined to overcome it. Our current circumstances compel us to control our fear so it doesn’t control us.

Now is the time to PRAY fervently.

While it’s not healthy to dwell on our fears, it can be just as dangerous to deny or ignore them. We need to acknowledge our fears, and then offload them. The safest place to take our worries is directly to God’s throne of grace. Often, I am more apt to talk to another person about my fears and concerns than I am to talk to God about them. Although talking to other people can be helpful, when we talk to God we are accessing His supernatural power, peace, mercy, and grace! God blesses us when we pray about everything and put all our needs and worries in His loving, capable hands.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. ~Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)

So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. ~Hebrews 4:16 (NLT)

Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall. ~Psalm 55:22

What if God wants to use this situation to give us a reason to cry out to Him like never before? There are so many awesome examples in the Old Testament of God responding to the cries of His people. I’m a firm believer in the power of prayer, and our prayers are needed more than ever right now! Prayer is also the primary way to manage our fear and receive God’s peace. 

Now is the time to power up our PRAISE.

When we are stressed by challenging circumstances, Satan preys on our fears by tempting us to imagine all the “What if’s” and worst-case scenarios. We give glory to God by always answering the “What if” questions with “Then God!” Praise is an effective way to deter the devil, and refocus our mind on God’s power and strength.

With Jesus’ help, let us continually offer our sacrifices of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. ~Hebrews 13:15 (NLT)

Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him again - my Savior and my God! ~Psalm 42:11 (NIV)

For the joy of the Lord is your strength. ~Nehemiah 8:10 (NIV)

Praising God also fills us with His joy! As we sing, listen to worship music, count our blessings, or offer praise and thanksgiving to God, we overcome fear by reminding ourselves of His Goodness and Faithfulness to us, which brings us joy and glorifies God.

What if God wants to use this situation to grow our faith until it’s bigger than our fear? Our praise is even more powerful when offered in the midst of trials. When we choose to affirm our faith in God during difficulties, we strengthen and encourage ourselves and others to “stand firm” on God’s promises.

God’s unfailing love has always sustained us, is sustaining us now, and will continue to sustain us in the future!

Now is the time to feed on GOD’S WORD daily.

I don’t know about you, but every morning I wake up empty, and my mind seems most susceptible and vulnerable to fear and hopelessness. If I’m not careful, I may try to fill up that emptiness with things of the world that don’t really satisfy. But what my heart and mind are truly hungry for is the bread of life. Scripture sets the tone for our entire day, and nothing satisfies like filling ourselves up with God’s Word!

People need more than bread for their life; they must feed on every word of God.  ~Matthew 4:4 (NLT)

Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” ~Matthew 24:35 (NIV)

Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path. ~Psalm 119:105 (NLT)

What if God wants to use this situation to get us into His Word like never before? The more fearful we feel, the more we need to fill our minds with God’s truth and promises. Scripture offers wisdom, counsel, instruction, comfort, peace, and reassurance like nothing else can.

Now is the time to TRUST God completely.

This current situation is a glaring reminder of how little control we actually have, and I think that is one of the reasons behind our fear. Lack of control can be scary! We don’t have any control over this situation. But we do have control over whether we listen to the voice of fear, or to the voice of Jesus, who has promised to never leave us or forsake us.

For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory. ~Deuteronomy 20:4

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” ~Matthew 19:26 (NIV)

We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. ~2 Corinthians 4:18 (NIV)

We have to make a conscious effort to change our focus—to take our eyes off the storm around us, and fix them on Jesus instead. When our troubles seem impossible and insurmountable, that’s when we need to turn to a God who is bigger, stronger, and more powerful than the storm! Even though things seem out of control, God is not surprised by anything that is happening. He is still Sovereign, and He is in control!

What if God wants to use this situation to increase our dependency on Him? When fears threaten to overwhelm us, we must call on the powerful and mighty name of Jesus. He goes before us in all things, and all things are possible with God!

Now is the time to do Hard Things and make SACRIFICES for the greater good.

We are walking through some dark days right now. This is uncharted territory for most of us, and the path forward is not entirely clear. But what if instead of shrinking back in fear and confusion, God is asking us to rise up and move forward in faith—even if we have to “do it afraid?” A popular quote says, “Courage is fear that has said its prayers.” We now have an unique opportunity for us to shine the light of Christ into the hopelessness and despair around us. Our ability to “choose faith over fear” serves as a living testimony of God’s power, grace, and love to the unbelievers in our lives. Our acts of kindness, selflessness, and sacrifice can have a ripple effect in a hurting world that desperately needs to know Jesus!

Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without works. ~James 2:26 (NLT)

For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. ~2 Corinthians 1:5 (NLT)

And since we are His children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs to God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. ~Romans 8:17 (NLT)

What kinds of things might God be asking us to do in response to this situation? We’re all going through this together, and we’re all suffering in various ways. Suffering is an inescapable fact of the human condition. But those who follow Christ suffer with Him, which gives purpose and meaning to our pain. We can choose to suffer for His sake.

I trust that God is going to bring us safely through this current crisis, and I look forward to the day when this is all behind us. My prayer is that when that day comes, we can look back on this experience and say: Never before have we relied on God so completely or felt God’s presence more strongly! Never before have we seen God work in such amazing and powerful ways! Never before have we seen so many unbelievers turn to God and learn to trust in Him! Never before have we seen so many people make so many sacrifices for the good of others! Never before has our country been so united in working together for the good of all!

“Fear is to our spirit what weights are to our muscles. Exercise your faith! We are positioned for a miracle!” ~Steven Furtick
For what great nation has a god as near to them as the Lord our God is near to us whenever we call on Him? ~Deuteronomy 4:7 (NLT)
 
SEE A VICTORY – Elevation Worship
The weapon may be formed but it won’t prosper
When the darkness falls it won’t prevail                                                                                            
Cause the God I serve knows only how to triumph                                                                                     
My God will never fail                                                                                                                                     
My God will never fail

I’m gonna see a victory                                                                                                                              
I’m gonna see a victory                                                                                                                         
For the battle belongs to You Lord                                                                                                         

There’s power in the mighty name of Jesus                                                                                               
Every war He wages He will win                                                                                                            
I’m not backing down from any giant                                                                                                       
Cuz I know how this story ends                                                                                                                
Yes I know how this story ends                                                                                              

You take what the enemy meant for evil                                                                                             
And You turn it for good                                                                                                                             
You turn it for good

I’m gonna see a victory                                                                                                                              
I’m gonna see a victory                                                                                                                         
For the battle belongs to You Lord