Fear is NEVER normal
Fear is crippling. We have all faced it. For some, it can cause your physical body to manifest some pretty wild symptoms. For others, it can produce emotional anxiety beyond your control. And for quite a few, it can cripple them into despair. In different times in my own life, I have experienced all three in different combinations, although, one alone is still overwhelming controlling. I have very vivid memories of becoming so sick one time before speaking that I had to bow out because there was no way I could stand. Contrary to popular belief, fear is not normal.
Before you run away with that stark revelation, let me set the record straight. The symptoms of fear are very real. Anxious fearful thoughts before any kind of public appearance or any circumstance for that matter, is very real!! But according to God, what we do when those very real feelings begin to manifest, is what separates those who are feeling those symptoms and those who are prisoner to it. If fear was not God’s plan for us, then where does it come from?
One of my favorite passages in the Bible confronts this very issue. The Apostle Paul’s apprentice Timothy was now pastoring a church. But Timothy was young and the weight of the responsibility was weighing on him. Paul’s address to him is a good indicator that fear was the culprit trying to consume Timothy and keep him from being effective in his role as overseer of the church. Paul drops a huge bomb on Timothy, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7 NLT) Wait a sec! So not only did God not give us fear, but it is also a spirit? Exactly! Paul did not say that we would not feel afraid, nor did he say that those feelings were wrong. What he did say was that fear itself was a spirit.
Let’s take a look at fear. I once heard a great acronym for fear: “False Expectations Appearing Real.” That’s a really focused idea of what fear looks like, unrealistic things I expect to happen, but haven’t actually happened. They seem very real, but they haven’t actually taken place. So, in short, I begin to worry about the worst that can happen in any given situation before it has actually materialized. OK. Let’s look at the word “fear” in the Greek. “Fear” in the Greek is phobos (dread of impending distress). Paul however uses a different word. He uses the word deilia (cowardice). I believe that Paul was informing Timothy of what would happened if he were to continue to accept fear, it would result in cowardice! Wow!
When we think of a coward in the English language, we think of it in very negative terms. A coward is not one name we would enjoy being called by. When you compare fear and cowardice, basically, we are talking about one being an emotion, and the other being the consequence of being consumed by that emotion. God Himself created us with a full set of emotions. Unfortunately, as humans, we tend to allow our emotions to control us. Many of those emotions end up leading us down a path that none of us would like to go down, fear is one of those emotions. How important is for us to renew our minds daily.
So, what do we do when we are faced with fear? First off, do not pretend it does not exist. You cannot run from fear! It is a dangerous game of cat and mouse and you will not be the one who wins! When those feelings of fear begin to crash in on you, speak to them! If God did not give us the spirit of fear, then He has given us a different spirit, the Holy Spirit. So, with the help of the Holy Spirit, our second step is to take authority over that fear. Talk to your situation. Come face to face with that anxiety. Stare down that worry. And tell that fear that it cannot stay! You do NOT have to lay down and let fear control your life! We were not created to be cowards who run away from fear. We were not created to be imprisoned by it. We were created to walk in unity with God’s Spirit. “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” (Galatians 5:22-23 NLT) These are the things we were created to live by. The next time fear comes knocking at the door of your heart, allow the Holy Spirit to answer. Trust me, fear cannot and will not stay.