My oldest brother walked up the sidewalk to his car and drove away, leaving my friend and I home alone. Being middle-schoolers, we were excited to have the place to ourselves.
But a little later we heard a thump. "What was that?" We looked wide-eyed at each other.
The rest of the night, we went back and forth on whether our imaginations had grown the size of the old farmhouse itself, or whether we had every right to have palpitating hearts and frozen limbs. As the night wore on, we became convinced we were not alone.
At the pinnacle of our terror, we decided we needed to take some sort of action and face the latest noise head-on. As we cautiously moved towards the noise, my brother jumped out from the shadows, terrifying us. He had indeed not left for a night on the town!
After relief that we would survive the night, I couldn't decide whether to admire his deviant genius or start plotting my revenge.
There are times fear is so strong, it is paralyzing. I'm sure you can relate. When was a time you felt this way?
Fear can wear many faces, and it often looks different for each of us.
Being cautious and having discernment can be lifesaving, but when we are fear-filled, it hurts ourselves and others. It dims our reflection of our Savior. But how do we effectively battle this spirit of fear that is so persistent?
I asked some women in my family for their insights:
"Treat fear like a boyfriend you need to break up with. 'Thanks fear for the role you have played in my life, especially for showing me where I am weak. This season of my life would be healthier without you, so I will be continuing this journey solo.'" – McKayla
"Recognize that I am afraid. Then assess the root of my fear. Just like weeding a garden, if I don't pull up the whole root, the weed will just pop up again. I also identify the source of my fear. This is where my enemy (the great opportunist) enters the equation. The Bible is clear that God has not given us a spirit of fear so who is provoking my fear? Once I recognize that I'm being "played" by the one who comes to kill, steal and destroy [John 10:10], it helps to put my fear in perspective and makes me more determined to conquer that fear rather than be controlled by it. Fear and trust cannot coexist. As a follower of Jesus, I must choose to trust him with all my heart and not lean on my own understanding [Proverbs 3:5]. People will say, 'Well, God understands how I feel' thereby excusing themself from doing anything to change, but we must take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ [2 Corinthians 10:5]. Fear is ultimately trumped up by the lie that I will not be ok. This is where I must meditate on all of the verses that assure me that I will be ok. My perfect life is the one to come; this is just my training ground." – Kim
"Dealing successfully with fear is knowing the source of fear and what fear is. Fear is not an emotion. Fear is a spirit. And we can become fearful, and it feels like an emotion because we agree with the enemy that God is not faithful, like the Israelites did coming out of bondage, even though they saw all of his wonderful miracles. We have the spirit of God in us, and we see all the things he has done for us, yet sometimes we agree with the spirit of fear. It's us being faithless to a faithful God. It's a spiritual battle. When fear, panic and anxiety come on me so strongly, I rebuke those spirits and tell them to go and just start worshiping; then I do not "feel" the same way at all about the situation. If fear keeps coming at you, it is probably because you have engaged with it. There is some tie attached. I would ask Holy Spirit, 'Why does the spirit of fear, anxiety or panic think it can come and get me?' Holy Spirit will direct to a situation or a time, and you can cut that off in the spirit realm and break agreement and be set free from it." – Kaye
"I usually remind myself that God hasn't given me a spirit of fear, but rather a spirit of love, joy, and peace of mind. I get on my knees rebuking the fearful spirit that has me in its grip and ask God to flood me with his peace that passes all understanding [Philippians 4:7]." – Pam
"I have a plaque on my desk that reads, 'She confidently trusts the Lord to take care of her. Psalm 112:7.' I bought it awhile back not really knowing how often I'd stare at it and have it calm me down. It may look different for each of us, but I picture God meeting me in the fire as he did Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego [Daniel 3]." – Kristi
The concept of "do not fear" and its accompanying counterparts—trust, faith, hope and peace—are found over 500 times in the Bible. This needs to have weight in our lives as Christ followers.
My prayer is for all of us who call Christ Savior and Lord to have victory over the spirit of fear as the world we live in desperately needs us to be fearless.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV)
Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace. – Helen H. Lemmel, (1918 hymn)