When I was a child, I was often bullied and made fun of because I was shy. Others picked up on this, which drove me to keep to myself more. The more I withdrew, the more they made fun of me and the fear of others within me grew. It was a continuing cycle. I spent a lot of time and energy being afraid. Fear has the power to disable us and keep us from excelling. It can keep us from seeking relationships, applying for jobs and reaching for promotions. Fear has the power to kill our dreams. But in Romans 8:15, we see that we have another choice. “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 compares two spirits from which we can choose: the spirit of bondage and the Spirit of adoption. Choosing the first, the spirit of bondage, leads to fear. More than once, the apostle Paul talks about receiving a spirit of bondage. In other words, for some bondage becomes a pattern. Once we let fear take hold, it is a pattern that is easy to repeat. The more we give in to fear, the more difficult it is to break free from its chains.
Fear makes us run and hide. It is important to acknowledge the fact that there will be times when we are afraid. The challenge is to push through the fear to faith and positive action. Here are a few pointers that may help.
First, you must face your fears head on. Proverbs 28:13 warns, “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.” Be honest with yourself and others. Do not hide the problem or your feelings about the challenges. Do not run away or you will have to face your fear later. The thing you fear will keep showing up in different forms until you finally learn to overcome. You might as well face it now. Speak out, speak up and speak often. Facing fear by talking about it gives others the opportunity to help you and provide advice.
Second, believe you can succeed and that the situation will change. Romans 8:37 encourages, “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” Knowing you can overcome any challenge will empower you to do just that. It’s also important to remember that all things will come to an end. Our lives on Earth are short and temporary. So, all the troubles we face will pass quickly in comparison to eternity. I know this sounds trite, but it’s still true.
Third, know God is taking care of you. The fear we are facing may be working to perfect us.
1 Peter 1:6-7 says, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
An important part of knowing God includes knowing what He has done in you. II Timothy 1:7 tells us, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
So, live courageously and boldly.
Fourth, pray. Psalm 138:3 declares, “In the day when I cried out, You answered me, and made me bold with strength in my soul.” The psalmist says that he “cried out” to God. Our spirits long to cry out to the One who created us and our Father longs to help us. In another place, Jesus said in Luke 11:9-10:
So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.
In prayer, we ask by communicating our fears and desires to the One with the power to change us from within and to change the situation without. Yes, God knows what we want before we say it, but He still wants us to come to Him with our requests.
Finally, know who you are and to whom you belong.
Galatians 4:6-7, “…because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, Abba, Father! Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”
What are you afraid of? Will you keep living in fear, or will you start taking the steps today to live in God’s peace?
*This is day one of a devotional that I am in the process of writing, “Living in God’s Peace: A 14-day devotional.” I would be interested to hear what you think.