I was afraid
After about 17 months of hearing about covid, I began to feel the symptoms. At first, it seemed like it was going to be like having the flu but by about the sixth day it was clear that this was no flu. It began to settle in my lungs, and I felt my ability to breathe was being reduced by the day. By that Friday I was coughing continually and as I lay in bed that night, I felt that this was deteriorating to the point that I needed help. I remember laying there wrestling with whether I should go to the emergency room. The stories of people not making it out of the hospital had been hitting a little too close to home with people I knew or knew of dying. Fear began to grow inside me. Going to the hospital meant admitting there was a problem and somehow my mind began to justify that this would make my condition worse.
It was there in the darkness that the Holy Spirit began to speak to my heart. Did I believe what I claimed to believe? Could I take God at His Word? Was I somehow going to “jinx” myself by admitting there was a problem? As I sit here now writing this, I know how absurd it sounds but God used this experience to teach me about the fact that in Christ, I really can overcome fear.
Fear is not a normal experience for a Christian
Fear is part of the curse that came into the world when Adam disobeyed God. In Genesis 3:6 Adam sinned and immediately recognized he was exposed and became afraid. We come by fear naturally because it’s been passed down to all of us by our first father, Adam. However, for Christians, we don’t have to live in it if we don’t want to. If you’re an unbeliever, there is much to be fearful of, not the least of which is being under the judgment of God. But if you’ll repent of your sin and turn to follow Jesus Christ, God will forgive you and everything I’m about to write will be for you also.
In 2 Timothy 1:7 Paul writes, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgment” (CSB). When we believed in Jesus as our savior God gave us a new heart and a new spirit (Ezk. 36:26). The new heart makes us care about the things God cares about and the new spirit is the Holy Spirit. While we do fear (reverence) God, it’s important to know that fear of anything else is not part of the new life in Christ we’ve been given. More importantly, fear is not something you have to live with.
How to overcome fear
In Isaiah 41:10 we read “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with my righteous right hand” (CSB).
That’s a powerful verse that’s highlighted in my Bible. I also wrote the date of that Friday night wrestling match I had with fear next to the verse.
I’m going to share three things you need to do to overcome fear and I want you to write them down and memorize them because undoubtedly, you’ll need them.
1. Acknowledge your fear and where it’s coming from.
Generally, the source of your fear is sin and the fall that we talked about earlier, however, we need to be honest about what we’re really afraid of. While I lay on my bed, I thought that by not acknowledging it the problem would somehow go away. Ignoring trouble is not wise. For me to obey the first statement in Isaiah 41:10, “Do not fear” I need to acknowledge that I am afraid and what the source of that fear is. So acknowledge it to yourself and God, tell Him what you’re afraid of, and ask Him to help you.
2. Acknowledge God and His greatness.
This begins with speaking the truth out loud about the truth that Scripture teaches about God. Don’t just think about it in your mind. Fear tends to speak in a loud voice that drowns out everything else. Speak the truth of God and His Word out loud.
3. Change your focus from fear to faith in God.
The longer I thought about my problem the worse it got but once I was reminded that God has numbered my days, and nothing will shorten them my focus changed. When I began to think about the fact that God has given me stewardship over my life and the decisions I make, I knew I had a responsibility. If God had ordained before the foundation of that world that Friday night, I was to step into His presence I wasn’t about to go to heaven from that bed of fear. When we focus on something it becomes bigger. No matter whether that’s God or my problems, whatever has my attention will soon become the center of my universe.
To overcome fear, turn your thoughts to God. Meditate on His promises, pick a Christian song with deep truths about God (I often look for one of the old hymns because they’re so rich in biblical truth), pray, and talk with God. Zig Ziglar used to say that worry was like paying interest on a debt you don’t have and that’s just what I was doing that night. But I got up. I told my wife I was going to the hospital and by God’s grace was told that I didn’t need their services, so I went home. Praise God.
Where do you need to get up and force fear out?