It is often popular in mainstream Christianity to suggest that it is wrong to ever feel fearful. That faulty perspective has compounded the problem of fear in many people by adding feelings of condemnation to the feelings of fear they already have. Now they have two problems instead of one.
It is ridiculous to think that we won’t ever experience feelings of fear in life. While it is true that God has not given us a spirit of fear (See 2 Timothy 1:7), don’t think it won’t show up on your doorstep anyway. The question is, “What are you going to do with it?”
Listen carefully to this statement and take it to heart: It is not a sin to have feelings of fear come upon you. Again, the focal point isn’t whether or not you ever feel fear. You will. Sometimes we think, “I shouldn’t feel this way.” No, feelings come involuntarily because of circumstances we face. Feelings of fear are normal in certain circumstances. The issue at hand is deciding how you will handle it when it comes.
When Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemene on the night before His crucifixion, you will never convince me that He didn’t experience feelings of fear. What else would cause Him to sweat blood and ask His Father, if there was any way, for Him to take away what was to come? The pivotal moment in the biblical account of Jesus in that garden was the way he faced his fears.
Jesus faced his fears, then acted in faith. He didn’t succumb to them. Instead, He moved through them toward the Divine purpose the Father had for His life. He refused to give in to feelings of fear and, instead, moved forward.
Our greatest threat is not fear. The greatest threat is inactivity because of fear. You will feel fear at times. The question is “will you face your fears and move through them, trusting God as you go forward with knocking knees or a nervous stomach.
General Norman Schwarzkopf once said:
What is bad is when you allow that fear to turn into panic, and you allow that fear to petrify you to the point that you cannot perform whatever duty you have to do. That's the thing that's wrong with fear. But there's nothing wrong with being afraid. And true courage is not not being afraid. True courage is being afraid, and going ahead and doing your job anyhow, that's what courage is.
The Apostle Paul once wrote, “I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling” (1 Corinthians 2:3). When Paul faced the daunting assignment to go to Corinth and establish a church, he felt fear, but he acted anyway. Courage is acting boldly in the face of fear. That’s what Paul did. He faced his fears and then acted bravely.
When Moses led the people of Israel out of Egypt, the time came soon came when they faced a threatening situation. After Pharaoh released them, he changed his mind and sent his army to chase them down. The Jews quickly found themselves trapped, with the Red Sea in front of them and an army quickly closing in from behind them.
The people immediately were gripped by fear. They cried out, accusing Moses of bringing them out into the wilderness just to die. They were horrified at what they believed was about to happen. I can imagine them crying out to Moses, “What are we going to do? What are we going to do?”
Note how this great leader responded: he immediately said to them, “Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish for you today . . . the Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.” (Exodus 14:13). His was an impressive response, don’t you think?
However, the next verse tells the rest of the story. “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the sons of Israel to go forward” (14:15). Never has the Bible given a more honest picture of leadership by showing us this behind-the-scenes look at what really happened.
Robert Lewis Stephenson once said, “Keep your fears to yourself, but share your courage with others.” To his credit, that is apparently what Moses did. He did the right thing outwardly by telling Israel not to be afraid, but then he leaves them, and must have gone behind a rock and cried out to God, “What are we going to do? What are we going to do?” To paraphrase God’s answer, Moses was told, “Why are you giving in to your fears? Get up and take the people forward!”
So he did and you know the rest of the story. Pharaoh’s army was swallowed up and Israel reached their destination on the other side of the sea. In a situation where the people and the leader felt great fear, they chose to face their fears and move forward in faith and, as a result, their objective was met. They reached the other side.
Nobody has ever successfully moved forward in life that has not had to face their fears and determine to move forward in spite of them. Don’t wait until you feel no fear to move ahead or it will never happen. Every new endeavor is embedded with the potential for being afraid. If you wait until you feel courage, you may never act.
You Father has not given you a spirit of fear, so don’t allow it to become your companion. Because of God’s Spirit in you, there is no sensible reason to ever give in to fear. You can face them because you have an omnipotent Father who loves you and who has already written the plan for your life. The Bible says “the days of my life [were] all prepared before I’d even lived one day” (Psalm 139:16, The Message).
We have a loving Savior who gave Himself so that we might experience life to the fullest degree possible. He said, “I came so that they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of!” (John 10:10, The Message) Make no mistake about it, His desire is for you to experience life to the fullest.
We have a guiding Spirit who dwells within us, giving direction to our thoughts and actions as we move through our day. To think that the Holy Spirit is disinterested in what we do discounts His great love for us. Of course He is interested and is attentive to our every need as we live our lives.
Do you feel fear about certain situations? Welcome to the human race! However, you don’t have to surrender to fear. Instead, face it and then move ahead with confidence that your Father will guide you each step of the way.