Sometimes when you are working through a particular problem in your life, it helps to have a little “homework” to do. Here’s one worksheet that may help some as you deal with the problem of fear.
One of the reasons we often don’t fully step out in obedience to God’s commands is because we are afraid of what will happen to us if we do. Instead of gently responding to the person in front of us, we attempt to control them through manipulative speech. Instead of sharing the gospel with someone, we smile and nod and remain quiet. Instead of giving generously to another believer who is in need, we keep our money in our pockets and pat them on the back. Fear not faith governs our words and actions and effectively cripples us from really living for Christ.
What can we do when we find fear grabbing hold of our hearts? Here are just a few suggestions:
1. Remind yourself of the promises of God. Don’t ask yourself what if my circumstances take a turn for the worse, but rather ask yourself what if I served a sovereign and good God who was able to use every single thing that could ever happen to me to benefit me spiritually and to make Jesus look great?
What are some promises of God that apply directly to you and to your situation?
Write down several ways that God could possibly use what is happening for your good:
2. Understand the nature of fear. Fear can be a gift from God to help us think carefully before going into dangerous situations. Realize however that this gift often gets perverted. Fear is very good at making things seem worse than they really are. In other words, fear is often great at exaggerating. We can illustrate this in a number of ways. For one thing, think back on your life and the difficult circumstances you have experienced. I would guess that for many of you, those difficult circumstances were pivotal points in your relationship with God. In fact, there is a sense in which those difficult circumstances may have been some of the best times in your life because of what the character qualities they produced in you. Yes, it hurt but you know God took that hurt and produced something really sweet. Even if the worst happens, why are so afraid of that? I remember how Jesus comforted his disciples by saying, don’t be afraid of them for all they can do is kill you. All they can do is kill you? Yes. And that’s not that bad when you have eternal life to look forward to. For another thing, the reality is that most of the time are fears are much bigger than the circumstance deserves. I think of this in our particular ministry. We often talk to people who are so afraid of going where we serve and it is just so funny once you have actually been there because it is so, so not scary at all. When you are starting to become afraid of what might happen, slow down and make sure you aren’t listening to people who are telling you things that are out of touch with reality.
What are several thoughts that fear is tempting you to think right now that are not true:
3. Remember how good God’s been to you in the past. Sometimes it feels like God is just overwhelming me with kindness after kindness, but then the smallest little thing comes up where it doesn’t appear all that good to me and all that God’s already done just goes out the window of my mind and I throw my hands up and wonder if God can take care of me this time. Stop the insanity! God’s kept His promises in your life for years and years, He’s not going to start breaking those promises this time. He crucified His own Son because He loved you, I think that pretty much proves He is committed to your long term good.
What are some of the different ways that God has brought you through similar situations in the past:
What are some of the difficult situations in the past that you are thankful for now and why?
4. Think about the wisdom of God. When you are tempted to wonder about God’s ability to work things out for your good, remember you are talking about someone who can see thousands of years into the future. This is someone who makes plans not day by day or month by month but thousands of years at a time. Whenever I want to argue with God, I try to remind myself that it is really foolish to argue with someone who knows exactly what is going to happen ten years down the line. Whenever we give into fear and make sinful choices instead of trusting God, we need to understand that what we really are saying through those decisions is that we think we are smarter than an eternal God. And that is really stupid.
What are some of the different attributes of God that can bring you encouragement right now:
How do they encourage you? Why?