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How to Overcome Fear

Many years ago I was in a minor car wreck. It had just snowed and the roads were slick with ice. I was stopped and getting ready to leave the neighborhood as a friend was turning onto my street. We recognized each other and waved. Then suddenly his face was overcome with fear. He was turning the steering wheel furiously and I could tell he was using all his strength to push the brake. Nevertheless, the two thousand pound vehicle couldn’t be controlled as it skated on the ice and slammed into my car. No one was hurt. There was minimal damage to the vehicles.

I will never forget the look of panic and helplessness as he tried to maneuver the vehicle out of the way.

In many ways this minor accident reflects our relationship with fear. We believe we have control over so many things, it may even feel like we are in command. Inevitably something happens that is unexpected, we begin to recognize that we can’t navigate all the unusual circumstances that come our way or mange the outcomes we so desperately desire.

Fear, and fear’s cousin anxiety, sets into our hearts when we recognize we are not in control. In my friend’s situation it was the ice on the road. You may have experienced this differently. You may have lost a job and have wondered how you were going to provide for your family. You may have received unexpected news from the specialist and are wondering how you are going to fight this disease. It might be realizing that you can’t manage the way people think about you and the disconnect between you and the image you present on social media is growing larger.

How do you overcome fear? 

Often times when fear creeps in we give ourselves a pep talk and convince ourselves that it’s not really there. We psych ourselves up and use adrenaline to get through.
It doesn’t matter.
I’ve been through this before.
I do like them anyway.
However, fear can be so dominate that we hide ourselves from relationships and opportunities.

I don’t want to take up anybody’s time.
I probably won’t get the job anyway.
Nobody would like this (me).

Both of these, psyching ourselves up or hiding away, are ways of dealing with fear ourselves and they will never produce a lasting peace. It might offer a temporary relief; however, without lasting peace you will be stuck on a carousal of fear and anxiety. The solution to overcoming fear is looking for the solution outside of yourself. As my friend’s car was sliding on the ice it didn’t matter how hard he turned the steering wheel or stepped on the brake. It wouldn’t have mattered if he hid away int he back seat. He needed a solution that was outside of his ability. He needed traction with the road.

Scripture shows us how Jesus offers peace that is different from the world.

The world’s version of peace is a shallow. It’s less about having peace a more about not dealing with hard situations. If this problem is removed, if this person would go away then I would finally have peace. However, nothing is static, our circumstances change and we find counterfeit peace for a moment. Maybe it’s a week, maybe it’s even a month, but it doesn’t take long before we find ourselves in a difficult situation again, uncertainty rises and fear is found steeling our peace yet again. It’s a vicious cycle!

The peace that Jesus offers gives rest to our souls. Jesus doesn’t give us the easy way, he gives us the deeper way.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33, ESV)

In the words above Jesus tells us three things:

  1. It is possible to experience peace. Peace is found in Jesus.
  2. We will have tribulation. Jesus doesn’t want to remove us from tribulations, Jesus will see us through tribulations.
  3. Jesus has overcome the world. We are simply following Jesus, He is our trailblazer, our way-maker, Jesus has gone before us leading our way.

We experience the peace that Jesus brings by looking to him, by holding onto his  promises, and trusting in his character. Just as the tires of my friend’s car needed the traction of the pavement to keep him from sliding into me, we need the traction of God’s Word to help us see Jesus clearly.

If you are in a place of a fear right now, or live their often, let me remind you of a few things:

  1. All the brokenness we see and feel, including fear, will one day be destroyed. When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden it damaged their relationship with God and with each other. However, God made a promise that Eve’s offspring would ultimately crush Satan. This promised is fulfilled in Jesus. So as you wrestle with your fear recognize that this is not the way it was supposed to be in the begging, sin stole our peace. However, their will be a day when the struggle will end. God keeps his promises; you will have victory through Jesus.

    I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel. (Genesis 3:15, ESV)

  2. Often when we think of peace we think of having our circumstances change. As mentioned above though, the peace that Jesus offers is deeper. The true peace that Jesus offers is having peace as we go through trials and tribulations. If you are going to be withstand the storm, your roots in Jesus need to be deep.  

    He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. (Psalm 1:3, ESV)

  3. Fear sets in when we are living in uncertainty. We don’t know what tomorrow brings. However, we know Jesus who is reigning as King and holds the future in his hands. Jesus is the embodiment of wisdom. Gaining insight and wisdom about a situation has a way of bringing peace.

    The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight. (Proverbs 4:7, ESV)

  4. Many people skip over the lists of names in the Bible. It’s understandable, the names are hard to pronounce and often we don’t know who those people are. However, the records of genealogy in Scripture demonstrate the sovereignty of God. We can see how God weaved his plan of redemption through human history. You might be surprised; God is never surprised. We know that all things work together for good for those who love God.

    The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. (Matthew 1:1, ESV)

  5. When a person surrenders his or her life to Jesus, he or she is sealed with the spirit. The same Spirit who was hovering over the waters at creation, the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the grave, lives inside every believer. The Spirit is at work and He comes with Power. 

    But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. (Acts 1:8, ESV)

You don’t have to live in fear. Jesus offers His peace that transcends circumstances and the uncertainty of the future.

The peace that Jesus offers gives rest to our souls. 

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