Dr. Nancy Weyer
FREEDOM FROM FEAR IN 5 STEPS
I believe one of the greatest weapons Satan uses against believers is fear. I am not talking about the kind of fear that comes when we are in actual danger. I am referring to that vague sense of fear or worry that seem to come out of nowhere and then won't go away. During those times, we may feel worried about everything and anything, or we may have an intense sense of foreboding or dread. However it comes upon us, the enemy of our souls knows how powerful this kind of fear is because he knows it can:
consume our thoughts
cause physical distress
push us toward sinful actions
turn our focus inward
turn our thoughts away from God
To see how this works, think about a recent time when you had this kind of apprehension, fear or worry and ask yourself:
Did I spend a lot of time thinking about what I was afraid of?
What physical signs did I notice when I was fearful or worrying? Did my heart race? Did my hands sweat? Did I grind my teeth?
Did I do things that I probably should not have done like eat/drink/shop too much? Did I make decisions that were not in my long-term best interests or that were not in the best interests of people I care about?
Did I spend too much time thinking about myself?
How often did I think about God and look to Him for help?
As you can probably see from your answers, when you were afraid it was not only your emotions that were affected. The truth is when this unsettling kind of fear is left unattended it can have negative impact across the whole spectrum of our being: psychological, social, emotional, physical and spiritual.
The good news is we do not have to stay enslaved to fear. What follows are a few brief but powerful ideas from Scripture that can help free you from pervasive fear and worry. (Keep in mind that if you are engaging in ongoing sinful activity, these steps may not work to alleviate your fears or anxieties. In that case, your best course of action is to repent from your sin and return to abiding in Christ).
A 5 STEP PLAN OF ACTION
1. IDENTIFY AND ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR FEAR.
Often when we start to feel afraid, we turn to our phones and computers to zone out in order to numb out. The problem with numbing out is if we do not identify and acknowledge our feelings, we cannot deal with them.
While our cell phones may allow us a temporary escape from nagging fears, they do not resolve the underlying concerns that brought them about in the first place. And if we do not deal with them, our fears will wait for another opportunity to overtake us once again.
The Psalms are an excellent place to look for answers to negative emotions because the people who wrote them basically “journaled” how they overcame their worries and fears. The psalmists did not try to avoid their fears; instead, they rebounded by coming face to face with them. Here are some examples:
Psalm 25:16-17 - “…I am lonely and afflicted. The troubles of my heart have multiplied…”
Psalm 31:9-10 - “…I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief. My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my afflictions, and my bones grow weak.”
We can follow these examples by simply identifying and acknowledging what we are feeling without attempting to control the emotions. But don't stop there...
2. PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR THOUGHTS.
Whether we realize it or not, we are always thinking about something and our thoughts are what lead to our feelings. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to what you are thinking after you have identified and acknowledged you are afraid or worried.
Since it sometimes can be difficult to identify fearful thoughts, keep in mind these categories where fear tends to thrive:
concern about what others think
negative comparisons with others
failing at something
thoughts of abandonment
3. REMEMBER GOD’S GOODNESS TO YOU.
Just because your brain is engaged in a continual conversation inside your head does not mean you cannot interrupt the conversation. The next time you are fearful or worried, disrupt those fear-laden thoughts with memories of how God has helped you in the past. Here is the way one psalmist did it:
Psalm 77:11-14 - I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds." Your ways, God, are holy. What god is as great as our God? You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples.
4. FOCUS ON GOD’S LOVE FOR YOU THEN THANK HIM.
The next step is to focus on how Christ demonstrated His love for you on the cross. The significance of Christ’s death cannot be overestimated because He has literally taken you from death to life. Reflect on these verses:
Ephesians 2:8-9 - For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- not by works, so that no one can boast.
Romans 5:7-8 - Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
After focusing on His love for you, take the time to thank Jesus for this indescribable gift.
5. ASK GOD FOR HELP.
If you are a Christian, God's help is only a prayer away. Your prayer does not have to be long or fancy. In fact, brevity and humility will probably get you further with God than some religious speech would. Simply tell Him what you need and thank Him for His answer.
Psalm 18:6, 16-18 – In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From His temple He heard my voice; my cry came before Him, into His ears…He reached down from on high and took hold of me; He drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support.
Psalm 46:1- God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
If you follow these steps, you will have a new focus for your thoughts which can lead to a dramatic change in your emotions.
Let me know how it works for you after you have tried it several times. I would love to chat with you about it!