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. However, left unchecked by her other emotions, Fear can leave Riley very unsure, panicky and, at times, completely control her life.
Similar to Riley, when we are apart from Christ, fear can unfortunately rule our lives. While there is a healthy God-given fear intended to help and protect us (warning us of danger and drawing us close to God for his courage, strength, and direction), there are also unhealthy fears, too.
Fears rooted in our sinful human nature distort what we believe about our circumstances, identity, and most importantly, God Himself. Unhealthy fears push us away from God and drive us to safeguard our 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 not trust God.
At one point in my life or another, I’ve been fearful about a multitude of things: rejection, failure, not belonging, hardship, aging, loss of beauty/health, and being unsupported without direction. When I don’t confess these fears and bring them to Jesus, I become a slave them instead. As a result, I live with unhealthy patterns and behaviors. I self-protect, over work, worry, and withdraw to avoid failure or rejection. I avoid truly loving someone, because doing so may be hard.
The root of my fear is that I struggle to trust God and often 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 the best.
Thankfully, there is great hope! When I admit my lack of faith to God and am honest about my fears, He leads me step-by-step on the healing path. He reveals unhealed wounds, false beliefs, and 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. True 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?
The following scriptures are excellent to commit to if you regularly 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 in His control rather than submit to our fears. Through Christ, we can trust God to lead us in love through any adventure.