I recently watched the Disney film Inside Out, where Riley, an 11-year-old girl, faces unknowns when her family moves across the country. In the “control room” of Riley’s mind, five emotions are personified and guide her life. One of these emotions is Fear, whose job is to protect Riley from danger. He is constantly on the lookout and evaluating potential risks. But unregulated, Fear is very unsure, panicky and, at times, completely ruling Riley’s life.
Similar to Riley, apart from Christ, unhealthy fear can rule my life. There is a healthy God given-fear to help and protect us. It warns us of danger and draws us close to God for his courage, strength and direction.
There are unhealthy fears, too. Fears of our sinful human nature distort what is true about our circumstances, identity, and most importantly, God Himself. Unhealthy fears push us away from God and protect sin. These fears tell us that God is not good, he does not love us, he cannot be trusted and he will not provide. They urge us to take matters into our own hands and to not trust God.
Fear has had various “flavors” throughout my own life. I’ve had fear of: rejection, failure, not belonging, hardship, aging, loss of beauty/health, and being unsupported without direction. When I don’t admit and bring my fears to Jesus, I choose to be a slave to fear. And as a result, I live with unhealthy patterns. I self-protect. I over-work or withdraw to avoid failure or rejection. I worry. I avoid the risks of truly loving someone because it may be hard. The root of my fear is that I don’t trust God for my significance and fail to rely upon Him to meet my needs. I am afraid that God is not enough for me or that His plans for me won’t be best.
But there is great hope! When I admit my lack of faith to God and I am honest about my fears, He leads me step-by-step on the healing path. He reveals unhealed wounds, false beliefs or idols affecting my life. These things get in the way of my relationship with God and my relationships with others. When I let God address my heart’s distractions, God begins to heal me and recapture my heart. He leads me through my fears into real truth, intimacy, freedom and love.
Being courageous doesn’t mean you will never have fears. Courage is coming to God when you are afraid, trusting Him with your fear and allowing Him to lead you through the unknown. Here are a few questions to help you turn to God when you are afraid:
- What is your specific fear?
- What is the root of your fear? Are you trying to protect, avoid or gain something?
- What do you believe about your circumstances, or yourself?
- What do you believe about God?
- What does God say in His Word about your answers above?
Below are a few wonderful truths about God and how we can trust Him with our fears. These scriptures would be great to memorize if you struggle with fear:
- “I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” (Psalm 34:4)
- “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Romans 8:14-15)
- “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)
If nothing can separate us from a good, loving and powerful God, then we can trust God’s control rather than submit to our fears. Through Christ, we can trust God to lead us in love through any adventure.
If you want more information on this topic, check out these stories about trusting God when you are afraid or anxious.