Can fear and faith co-exist?
I used to think I didn’t have a “fear problem.” Until life began to go haywire last year. My stomach was frequently in pain. Sleep? What’s that? Shallow breaths? Yup. Thoughts that focused on all the things that could go wrong?
Yup, that too.
In October 2021, God showed me how fear snaked through many of my thought processes and heart impressions. And had been for years.
How could I, a Jesus-follower for decades, be dealing with fear?
When my doctor suggested I see a counselor, I realized I had to get a handle on how to deal with fear. I spent the last couple of months of 2021 considering my One Word for 2022. I didn’t want to focus on fear, but I knew it would be about dealing with anxiety.
We all experience fear at times in our lives. If fear is left unchecked, it skews our understanding and how we perceive the people and situations in our lives.
A Biblical Example
When I read Exodus 4 recently, I was struck by how the Israelites reacted after being freed, but Pharaoh changed his mind. Most of us know the story. God had acted on their behalf, and after many plagues, Pharaoh told them to go. The Israelites wanted their freedom . . . until it became dangerous. When Pharaoh and his army chased after them, fear ruled the Israelites.
The Israelites had heard God’s promises of freedom but seeing Egypt’s army probably terrified them. And the people believed what they saw rather than what God had promised.
Wrestling with the uncertainties between fear and faith will happen, but only one of these will have the final say in our hearts. We must choose what we believe. When life gets hard, will we believe what we see, what our circumstances tell us?Why We Must Choose Between Fear and Faith—4 How To's—Wrestling with the uncertainties between fear and faith will happen, but only one of these will have the final say in our hearts #tellhisstory #fearandfaith Click To Tweet
Or will we believe what we know about God and His character?
Only we can determine which one wins out in our lives.
Fear and Faith Defined
Fear—Merriam-Webster defines this as an unpleasant, often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger; anxious concern
Faith—Merriam-Webster: belief and trust in and loyalty to God; firm belief in something for which there is no proof; complete trust
Are these two concepts complete opposites?
This is what I know. When fear runs rampant in my thoughts, I’ve put more trust in myself than in my Father.Why We Must Choose Between Fear and Faith—4 How To's—When fear runs rampant in my thoughts, I've put more trust in myself than in my Father. #tellhisstory #fearandfaith Click To Tweet
Though difficult, we must acknowledge when we’ve given fear the upper hand in our hearts and minds. When we don’t trust God to honor His word and go with us into each situation, we place ourselves on the thrones of our lives.
We always have a choice. Does life become painful and difficult? Yes. Circumstances can overwhelm us. We may feel afraid. The question is, what will we do with that feeling?
Will we allow it to move into our hearts and grow? Will we nurture the fear with all the worst-case scenarios that breed in our minds? This encourages fear to grow and overtake our hearts, thoughts, and bodies.
Or will we talk with Jesus? He understands being afraid. He tells us to come to Him with our burdens. When we choose to trust the One who loves us most, we practice faith.
God knows we’re going to feel afraid sometimes. But we don’t have to stay in that place.
Four thoughts about choosing between fear and faith
Turning our thoughts and heart from fear to faith takes intentional decisions. Here are some thoughts to help:
Understand how fear manifests in our lives. For me, my thoughts circle around the idea or worry continually. I’ve struggled for years with a desire to control every aspect of my life. I know; it seems ridiculous. But God showed me my reason for doing this is because I nurture this idea that if I controlled the situations in my life, I wouldn’t have to feel any pain. Silly, right? This was me not choosing to trust God. At all. I had to confess this to the Lord.
Identify the thought or idea causing us to feel fearful. Write it out. Talk it out. Get it out somehow. And ask for truth to help us see the scary thing from a different perspective. Look for the ways this thought or idea has led us to behave.
When we recognize the physical sensations of fear ratcheting up in our bodies, stepping back and taking slow, deep breaths for a couple of minutes may help. Label each thing we observe with our five senses. Being mindful slows down the fast spin fear sometimes twirls us into. It also opens our capacity to think clearly and pray dealing with fear in our minds and hearts.
Accept we may need to see a counselor to help us reframe our fear to face it head on. Having someone else in our corner who has resources and wisdom can help us work through the underlying issues that may be causing our fear.
On January 1, 2022, I was still trying to nail down my One Word for the year. I asked Hubs what the opposite of fear was. He first said, “Courage.” That didn’t resonate.
“I think it has to do something with trust. What are some synonyms for trust?”
He reeled off a few words. And then he said, “Cling.”
“That’s it!” I typed the word into my phone.
The beautiful thing about clinging to Jesus is that He also clings to us. I want to hold tightly to Jesus when fear tries to derail me. And the beautiful thing is, even when I struggle to hang on, Jesus clings to me, to each of us. Often we’ll be in a place where we’re forced to choose between fear and faith.
Faith and fear cannot exist at the same time. I don’t think so. One will always rule in our hearts. We must decide and feed either fear or faith to guide our steps. Fear directs us in one direction and leads to internal and external chaos.
Faith directs us into peace as we choose to trust the Lord more than ourselves. Which will you choose?
What about you? What are your thoughts about fear and faith co-existing? What’s something that helps you choose faith when you feel afraid?
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Each week we gather here as storytellers, word weavers, and encouragers to make His name known. Our story is God’s story and this small corner of the blogging world, where we come together each Tuesday, needs you. This is a place where poetry, snapshots, prayers, and stories find a safe spot to nod in agreement that what we have to say matters. I am glad you are here and would love to have you join the #TellHisStory community. Add your own encouraging post through the link below. Spread some love by visiting your neighbor and leaving your own encouragement. Click here to read more about the #TellHisStory community and find a button to add to your site.Come share your story at the Tell His Story linkup. Connect and be encouraged by like-minded friends! #tellhisstory #linkup Click To Tweet
Each week we gather here as storytellers, word weavers, and encouragers to make His name known. Our story is God’s story and this small corner of the blogging world, where we come together each Tuesday, needs you. This is a place where poetry, snapshots, prayers, and stories find a safe spot to nod in agreement that what we have to say matters. I am glad you are here and would love to have you join the #TellHisStory community. Add your own encouraging post through the link below. Spread some love by visiting your neighbor and leaving your own encouragement. Click here to read more about the #TellHisStory community and find a button to add to your site.
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These words, Jeanne, speak to where I am today. Thank you, friend. “God knows we’re going to feel afraid sometimes. But we don’t have to stay in that place.”
Thanks for sharing a bit of your heart, my friend.
Jeanne, what you said about “cling” reminds me of a song I’ve had on repeat for a few weeks, “He Will Hold Me Fast” by Selah. I think that fear often begins as a feeling that leads to a choice—do I dwell on the fear, or do I trust God? I love your advice to take a closer look at the fear, how it makes us feel, what is triggering it. Somehow, breaking it down like that helps lessen the power of it, I think. Wonderful post, friend.
Lois, please forgive the delayed response. I’m going to look that song up. I would agree…fear does seem to often begin as a feeling that leads to a choice. I think sometimes the way to begin dealing with fear is to understand the root cause. Thanks for your words here friend.
I choose faith over fear!
Barbara, the best choice ever!!
My word for the year is “intentional.” So your words “Turning our thoughts and heart from fear to faith takes intentional decisions” really resonated for me. There can be a lot of fear in our world where all is unsteady–markets dropping, conflicts arising, sickness, famine etc – but God…He’s steady, always. And One to cling to only that holds all in His ways. Fear can grip me, too, and show up in sleeplessness, stomach problems, and procrastination. I’m glad you reached out for help via counselling, Jeanne. Sharing that helps all of us remember God gifts others and places them on our paths to help and grow us. We just need to say “yes” to all that He offers.
Lynn, I so appreciate all your words. The Lord is always steady, and He’s the only One who won’t shift when we cling to Him. I’m sorry you’ve dealt with fear too. Sometimes it feels humbling to ask for help when we’re dealing with issues. But I’d rather be humble and healthy than prideful always stressed. 🙂 Thank goodness God has gifted us each uniquely to uplift, help, and edify others!
Yes fear can become crippling unless we face it head on with professional help & the Lord. Great post Jeanne.
Jennifer, yes. We can definitely benefit from professional help, especially if fear gets to the place where it’s crippling us. And the Lord is so gracious and compassionate when we turn to Him for help!
Jeanne, I don’t believe fear and faith can co-exist. Fear moves us to a posture of doubt and isolates us from the presence of God.. Faith empowers us with truth and confidence in God’s good and sovereign care for us. His perfect love casts out all fear.
I completely agree, Donna. Fear and faith cannot coexist. One or the other will dominate in our hearts and minds. I love your words about how fear and faith each impact and influence us.
I have learned that my fear often masquarades as other things. So I have to be on my toes and ask myself some hard questions sometimes.
Oh, Lauren. YES. Fear does that with me too. Asking those hard questions can be the absolute best way to choose faith. Thanks for sharing this!
What especially touches my heart here is the truth that Jesus clings to us, too, Jeanne. “I want to hold tightly to Jesus when fear tries to derail me. And the beautiful thing is, even when I struggle to hang on, Jesus clings to me, to each of us.” Such a beautiful comfort that as we struggle to hang on, He is clinging to us. There is so much hope in that! Thank you. Love and blessings to you!
Trudy, I find great hope in the truth that the Lord is holding us in every moment we walk this earth. God’s love is amazing, isn’t it?! Sending you love and hugs, friend!
Trust is the key to being free from fear. You stated it so well, Jeanne, “Faith directs us into peace as we choose to trust the Lord more than ourselves. “
Lisa, so true. Trusting God is the key to causing fear to lose its grip on us. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!
Fear is a cruel master. I like the Psalmist words, “When I am afraid, I will trust in Him.” I picture a young child running to her Daddy and finding shelter.
Yes, Debbie. Fear IS a cruel master. That verse is so perfect. We will all be afraid sometimes. I love your visual of a girl running to her Daddy and finding shelter. Thanks for that!
Amen. Choose faith. Choose Him.
Yes and amen to this, Melissa! Choose faith. Choose Jesus. Well spoken!
I always cling to the verse ‘perfect love casts out all fear’ (1 John 4:18) when I have moments of fear. So, even though I feel as if my faith quivers at times, I know God’s love for me is perfect—and I let that fact settle my thoughts and calm my mind.
Anita, that’s a verse I come to, also. It’s a great one to cling to! 🙂 I find great comfort in the truth that God loves me perfectly, passionately, and completely always. When I rest in that truth, fear loses its grip on my heart. Thanks for sharing 1 John 4:18, friend!
I’ve so been watching your journey with CLING during this year of my journey with RELEASE. At first glance they may seem opposites, but the more I learn about releasing things I can’t control, the more I realize the importance of clinging to Jesus. Thanks for sharing this, Jeanne!
Lisa, our words do dovetail, don’t they? Learning to release the things we can’t control seems daunting. But, when we remember Whose hands we release them into, letting go is a little easier. And we cling to Jesus in the process, right? Love your thoughts here, friend.
Fear is such a lousy taskmaster and a useless platform for making decisions. And yes, it sure goes hand in hand with anxiety. We’ll all continue to encounter it from time to time … it’s what we do with it when it comes to call. Thanks for your wise words, friend.
YES, Linda. Fear is a horrible taskmaster. I’m learning to discern when it’s trying to take hold of my mind and heart so I can turn to the Lord with whatever’s causing the fear. You’re so right. It’s about what we do with fear when it makes an appearance. So thankful for you, friend!
This is a huge encouragement to me. I want to cling to the One who is bigger than ANYTHING I fear. The “expulsive power” of trust!
Michele, YES. Regardless of what we face, let’s cling to the One who is bigger than anything we fear. Love your words and your heart, friend.
Bigger than our fears! YES!
Fear is really something
that cannot be denied;
though faith is present on bright wing,
I am still terrified
of the things that lie in store
in cancer’s harsh domain.
I don’t think I can take much more
of this fatigue and pain,
but I yet can write in hope,
and treasure all my blessings.
Perhaps tomorrow I won’t cope,
but now I am professing
the Love that holds me in His arms
even though these worst of harms.
Andrew, I love the raw honesty and beauty of this poem. I’ve said it before: sometimes faith is a moment-by-moment choosing to cling to Jesus and not give fear a foothold. Your words definitely hold lots of hope. I’m so thankful for you, for your persistence, and your faith-filled encouragement. I continue to pray for you, Barb, and the dogs, my friend.
Thanks for sharing your gift of verse!
I’ve often been comforted by what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2:3: “ And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling.” As you said, some fears will crop up. But if we feed thoughts about them, they’ll grow and hinder us. If we focus our thoughts on God’s care and power and provision, we can trust Him for every situation.
Barbara, that verse is such a good one to hold onto. Thank goodness our Father is with us in weakness and fear and trembling. More and more, I’m finding such deep gratitude to the Lord for always being with us, whether the fears are big or not so big in my mind and heart. We must focus our thoughts and hearts on the truth of who God is, right? Thanks for sharing your wisdom.
“The beautiful thing about clinging to Jesus is that He also clings to us.” And He clings to us ever so tightly. May we come to the place of realizing the strength of His hold and rest securely in Him.
Joanne, isn’t it a comfort to know Jesus always clings to us? I echo your prayer: may we come to the place of realizing the strength of His hold and rest securely in Him.” Yes and amen to this!