In 2012, when I was in the midst of a separation that eventually ended in divorce, I was worried, scared, anxious… Would he come back? Would I make it alone? I did not even have a steady job! Money? Insurance? The kids’ school bills? The cars? The house remodel we were still working on? I was terrified! Perhaps you too, have anxious moments when the bills add up to more than the bank account or when the phone rings and the news is bad.
After months of sobbing prayers with few words, I realized I was doing a lot of worrying and God tells us not to worry. In fact, I had heard there were 365 verses in the Bible which said, “Do not fear.” I decided to look into what the Bible had to say–read every verse on the topic!
This study took much of my personal worship time for a few months. I had never undertaken a project like this before. Instead of picking up a book by a human author to have them explain the Bible to me, I picked up my Bible and used on online source to look up every instance of the words “fear”, “worry”, “afraid” and “anxiety.” I found God speaking to me in ways He had not had the opportunity to before. The answers I found were very thorough, specific, easily understood–much better than I expected.
In keeping with my personal rule of keeping blog posts short, there will be several parts to this series. The titles will include:
- Faith vs. Fear
- The Results of Fear
- What Will They Think of Me?
- No Fear in Battle
- Like an Infection
- God Hears… And He is There!
- My Value
- Antidotes to Fear
- God is God
- Be Strong and Courageous
By the way, a very large percentage of the “do not fear” verses in the Bible are actually talking about peoples who “do not fear” the God of heaven, thus have nothing to do with the fear an anxiety of daily life. There are still a very large number of verses which are applicable and we will be looking at many of them.
So, let’s get on with part 1!
Faith vs. Fear
Fear. Worry. These are human emotions we all have at times. Worry, fear, and anxiety are all similar emotions. At the appropriate time, fear can trigger a great gift God instilled in us releasing hormones in our bodies which make us better able to deal with an emergency situation. However, God tells us repeatedly in the Bible, “Do not fear,” and, “Do not worry.” If fear can be a gift from God and a natural emotion, why would God tell us not to have fear and worry? Is worry or fear a sin? How can we avoid it? These are some of the questions I have explored and believe I have found many answers in the Bible.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23 KJV This verse clearly states two fruits of the Christian life will be faith and peace. Both of these are the opposite of fear or worry.
At times in the Bible someone is told to show faith and not fear. For example, there is a story in the old testament which took place during a famine. The prophet Elijah was directed by God to go to a town in another country. When he arrived he found a woman about to make the last bit of flour she had into bread for her and her son, believing they would both die after that. “And Elijah said to her, ‘Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son.’” 1 Kings 17:13 NKJV In spite of her fear for her life and that of her son, she showed faith and followed the prophet’s direction. For the rest of the famine, they had just enough flour and oil in their house each day to make bread. God rewarded her for showing faith and not fear.
Jesus makes a statement in Mark 4:40 (NKJV), “But He said to them, ‘Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?’” This tells us that fear is present when faith is lacking. Similar to the previous story regarding a relationship between the opposite of faith and fear. Could it be that faith pushes out fear?
It also appears from two texts that fear does not come from God: “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.’” Romans 8:15 and “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 8:15 Additionally Jesus states what He does give us, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27 NKJV
If God gives us faith and peace but does not give us fear, where does fear come from? For this answer we need to go to the very beginning, the Garden of Eden. The very first time fear entered this planet was there, following the first sin. Adam stated, “I was afraid.” (Genesis 3:10) Fear is a result of sin. Sin comes from Satan. If fear comes as a result of sin, then fear comes from Satan—not God.
If fear does not come from God, and God asks us not to fear, if must not be good for us. What are the results of fear? We will talk about that next week.