This past Saturday night, we began a new study with our youth group, Generation of Purity. Many people fear because we live during difficult times. Many do not know what the future holds and therefore, worry and fear. I chose to teach the 40 minute Bible study, Breaking free from fear, written by Kay Arthur. It is a great study of the people of the Bible and how they overcame fear. I want to write this article based on lesson 1 of the study.
What do you fear? Is it normal to fear? Do you ever feel that your fears are irrational? What do you do when facing fearful situations? What did the men and women of the Bible do? Do you know? Let’s take a look and see for ourselves.
When you think of the disciples, what comes to mind? Do you think of perfect saints who never made mistakes? Do you envision strong men who walked boldly through the storms of life? Have you ever stopped to consider that they may have been mere men like we are, full of fear, worries, and problems? I used to think that they were perfect apostles until I began to read the Gospels. I discovered that they were faulty people just like we are. The thing that made them different is the fact that they walked with Jesus Christ every single day. He was their Rock in the midst of all of their fears.
Before we get into the specifics, I would like to take a look at a promise that God gives to all of those who follow the Lord Jesus Christ:
No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man ; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. (I Corinthians 10)
Whatever you face, please realize that if you are a follower of Jesus Christ then God does not allow anything to overtake you. Whatever He allows to happen, know that it is not more than you can handle. If it starts becoming too much for you, God will prepare a way of escape. Knowing this promise is key to being victorious in battling your fears.
I. Fear is caused by the natural world around us
God created a perfect world and man messed it up with his sin. Nature is a blessing for mankind to enjoy but because of sin, what was created for good can become destructive. What do you do when you have to face the elements? What did the disciples do? Let’s take a look.
35 On that day, when evening came, He said to them, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd, they took Him along with them in the boat, just as He was; and other boats were with Him. 37 And there arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up. 38 Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion ; and they woke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing ?” 39 And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Hush, be still.” And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. 40 And He said to them, “Why are you afraid ? Do you still have no faith ?” 41 They became very much afraid and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?” (Mark 4)
When we study this passage, we see that the elements overcame the disciples. They found themselves in the midst of a storm and they did not know what to do. They were afraid. They could not save themselves. This is all the bad news. The good news is that Jesus was with them so they ran to Him in their moment of need and weakness. Their faith was weak. When Jesus arose and began to calm the storm the disciples took their focus off of the dangers around them and they began to focus on the One who holds the atoms of this world together, Jesus Christ. They lost their fear of the storm because their eyes were on Jesus. When the storms of life overtake you, what do you do? Do you try and resolve things on your own? Do you lose heart and just give up? Or, do you run to the One who is mightier than the storms of this life? The disciples had to face the struggles of life and they feared, just like we do yet they realized that God was with them and they ran to Him. This is the key to success, realizing that God awaits you and you need to run to Him. Will you do this?
II. Fear can stop you from accomplishing great things for God
Many times we are afraid to even start a difficult task because of fear of failure. Other times, you may begin something and then get in the middle of it and as things get tough, take your eyes off of the Lord and begin to sink. What will you do then? Let’s take a look at what Peter did.
24 But the boat was already a long distance from the land, battered by the waves ; for the wind was contrary. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea. 26 When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost !” And they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” 28 Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” 29 And He said, “Come !” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt ?” 32 When they got into the boat, the wind stopped. 33 And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “You are certainly God’s Son !” (Matthew 14)
Peter started off well. Along the path, he took his eyes off of Christ and became afraid of the circumstances around him. He began to fear and doubt which caused him to lose the faith that he had. As he began to sink in the midst of his fears and the storm, he reached out his hand and begged Christ to help him. This is the key to success. As we step out on faith, things will get difficult. The question is, what will you do when things get tough? Will you lose faith and give up or will you keep your focus on Christ? If you do begin to sink, will you reach out to Christ and cry to Him for help? Peter experienced this and as a result, on the day of Pentecost when the church was formed, Peter is the courageous one who preached the Gospel to the crowds, leading to 3,000 converts to Christ at once. Will you be like Peter, ready to step out of the boat and do something great for the Lord or will you stay in the boat because of fear? When things get tough outside of your comfort zone, what will you do, focus on the obstacles or on the One who controls all things?
III. King David offers practical advice for overcoming fear
Before David became the king of Israel, after he had been anointed by Samuel yet while Saul was still king, David had a difficult time. He was chased by Saul and his men day and night. He was on the run and had nothing but fear to accompany him. He shares some great insight on how he dealt with this fear.
1 Be gracious to me, O God, for man has trampled upon me; Fighting all day long he oppresses me. 2 My foes have trampled upon me all day long, For they are many who fight proudly against me. 3 When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. 4 In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust ; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me? 8 You have taken account of my wanderings ; Put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book ? 9 Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call ; This I know, that God is for me. 10 In God, whose word I praise, In the LORD, whose word I praise, 11 In God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me? 12 Your vows are binding upon me, O God ; I will render thank offerings to You. 13 For You have delivered my soul from death, Indeed my feet from stumbling, So that I may walk before God In the light of the living. (Psalm 56)
David knew how to trust in God because he knew the Word of God. He praised God’s Word for the promises that It gave to him. He did not fear his enemies because he knew his God. He knew God’s character as revealed in His Word. This is the practical advice that we need. If you want to know how to overcome your fears then you need to know the God of the Word and the Word of that God. If you are not a student of the Scriptures then you will fall flat on your face when times get tough and fear will master you. You must stay connected to the source, God via His Word so that you can be encouraged and strengthened like David was, so that you focus on God and not the obstacles around you. Do you spend time every day feeding your soul from the Word of God?
As we have seen, fear comes from without and within and if we are not focused on our Savior, Jesus Christ then we will give in to our fears. If we begin to sink, we must immediately cry out to Christ to help us. Once He does, we must keep our focus on Him. Do not be afraid to try difficult things for the Lord and when you do begin them, stay focused on Him when times get tough. Stay in His Word so that you can be comforted, strengthened, and encouraged. May the Lord bless you and help you as you accomplish great things for Him.