Throughout the Bible you find God trying to heal our fears by reminding us of His active presence in our lives. One example is found in Psalm 23:4 where David wrote, “Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me” (NLT). Today I want us to focus on those two things: being afraid and the presence of God.
The Bible recognizes that one of our greatest problems is fear. You can disguise fear with all kinds of costumes, or drive it undercover. But it is never very far away for any of us.
At some point, we all have a problem with fear. I want to talk about fear for just a moment and then I want to show you a promise of God that is always true that addresses your fear.
Observations about fear
Let’s begin with some observations about fear.
Fear is about the future
Number one, fear is about the future. No one’s afraid of the past. The only way someone is afraid of the past is being afraid their past catches up with them sometime in the future. You are not afraid of your past. The past creates other problems – like regrets and consequences. And no one is exactly afraid of the present. We might be upset about the present, but we don’t usually fear it because we know it and we are in it at the moment. But we do fear now what will happen next. We think, “Something’s up ahead in my life and I don’t want it.” Fear is usually about something that is in the future that will or might happen.
Fear includes what me might lose
Number two, fear includes what we might lose. For example….
- We are afraid of losing people. Will my spouse always love me? Will friend always be my friend? Will my kids love the Lord or walk a different path? You may be afraid of losing a good relationship with someone.
- We are afraid of losing possessions. Will I be able to pay the rent or house note? Will I be able to repair the car? Will I have enough to retire or help with my kids college? What if my house burns down and lose all the pictures? What if someone breaks in and steals my stuff? What if I have to sale what I have in order to live?
- We are afraid of losing our position. What will happen if I lose my position at work, on the team, or on that committee? If I fail what will others think of me? If I am not successful, what then?
Fear can show up anywhere about anything
Fear is about the future. Fear is about what we might lose. Number three, fear can show up anywhere about anything. There are thousands of documented phobias and fears. For example…
- Acrophobia – the fear of heights
- Anthropophobia – the fear of people
- Astraphobia – the fear of thunder and lighting
- Bathmophobia – the fear of stairs or steep slopes
- Numberophoboa – the fear of numbers
- Zoopphobia – the fear of animals
You get the idea. Fear is a universal problem. You have a fear, you either haven’t found it yet or you are just not calling it something else. Even Christians struggle with fear. You can find Christians who are afraid of where the country is going and act and talk like God can’t get them through it.
Fear is a big subject in God’s Word
Number four, fear is a big subject in God’s Word. The Bible identifies the overwhelming emotion of fear almost a thousand times.
- The word “fear” is used 441 times
- “afraid” 167 times
- “tremble” 101 times
- “terror” or “terrified” 121 times
- The words “dread,” “frighten,” and “faint” are also repeatedly used throughout God’s Word.
God is aware of our struggle with fear. This is why He gives us numerous encouragements regarding facing our fears. Throughout the Bible you have God giving people words of advice and instruction and hope as they faced a fearful situation. Let me give you some examples.
- The Israelites were terrified as the murderous Egyptians bore down on them from behind as they faced the barrier of the Red Sea. There was no way out. Right in the middle of that seemingly hopeless situation, Moses said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The Lord Himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” (Exodus 14:13, NLT).
- David was afraid for his life on many occasions, but he penned these words about fear and God in Psalm 23:4, “Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me” (NLT).
- Jeremiah was afraid to tell people something they didn’t want to hear. God said to him in Jeremiah 1:8, “Don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you. I, the Lord, have spoken!” (NLT).
Many of the Bible people we regard as heroes shared the same fears that we struggle with today. You are not alone. Fear is universal.
Fear opposes faith
Number five, fear opposes faith. And this is the problem. Fear expresses the opposite of all that being a follower of Christ is to be. Fear is the contradiction of faith. Faith says, “Whatever it is, it’ll be okay because of God. No matter what the results are or the outcome may be all things work together for good to those who love God… even if the outcome is not what I wanted. Whether God delivers me from the fire or not, I need not fear.” Fear says, “It’s not going to be okay, and I have to take the matters into my own hands because God is not going to do anything and if He does do something it may not be what I want Him to do.” Faith responds to a situation like there is a God and fear responds like there is no God. Fear opposes faith.
When you are walking in fear, God seems further from you than when your heart is filled with faith. Fear says, “I don’t think God is for me” even if God’s Word says that He is for you.” Unhealthy fear has no place in the Christian’s life. This is why we are told in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline” (NLT). I think you get it now. Unhealthy fear does not belong in your life. Out with fear and in with faith.
Observations about the Presence of God
With that said, I want to show you something that is always true that will help you deal with the fears you face. I want to connect the presence of God with your worries and fears and show you there is nothing to worry about when it comes to your life as a follower of Jesus. Because of the presence of God in your life you have the opportunity to experience freedom from unhealthy fears. Let me show you.
I have the greatest opportunity to experience true satisfaction
First, because of God’s presence in my life… I have the greatest opportunity to experience true satisfaction. It is amazing how quickly we can become dissatisfied and discontent with what we have. However, God desires for us to learn the secret of contentment and satisfaction. We must learn that contentment does not come in material or physical packages. Real satisfaction comes from the presence of God. The writer of Hebrews said it this way, “Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, ‘I will never fail you. I will never abandon you’” (Hebrews 13:5, NLT). Through His Word, God is connecting true satisfaction and His presence. They go together. This deals with the fear of not having enough possessions or losing the possessions you have.
The follower of Jesus can experience true inner contentment because God has promised His presence in their life. God is saying, “No matter where you are in life, what you have or don’t have, you can still experience contentment in life because of My presence in your life.” You lose contentment when you focus on things. You grow in contentment when you focus on God. Satisfaction in life begins with the Savior, not your salary. Once you have contentment based on God’s presence you have already conquered a lot of fears that many people struggle with.
When your relationship with God is the most important thing in your life then what you have or don’t have is consumed by that relationship. It’s similar to the couple who love each other so much and enjoy each other’s company so much that it doesn’t matter what they have or don’t have as long as they are together. When you are in love with Jesus and knowing Jesus is in love with you possessions and things lose a lot of their glamour. His presence in your life brings satisfaction and contentment.
I have the greatest opportunity to experience real peace
Number two, because of God’s presence in my life… I have the greatest opportunity to experience real peace. God’s presence has the power to remove fear, anxiety and worry from a believer’s life regarding the future. Listen to Philippians 4:5-6, “The Lord is near. Don’t worry about anything” (HCSB). Why are we told not to worry about anything? Because the presence of God is close. Worry is a cousin of fear. Worry is allowing your mind to dwell on your difficulty, problem, or trouble. You are thinking about your problem way too much. You may think that by thinking about it more and more you can some how control it. But the reality is you can’t control it.
David understood this when he wrote in Psalm 23, “Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me” (NLT, v.4). You have a choice today. You can focus on God’s power, God’s will, God’s control, God’s sovereignty, God’s wisdom, and God’s love for your life while you walk through your valley or you can focus on your problem, focus on difficulty and let it worry you and still your joy. You can walk through this valley either holding onto God’s hand or holding on to the hand of worry.
The presence of God makes all the difference in a believer’s life. It makes the difference between being content and discontent. It makes the difference between experiencing peace or worry. It makes all the difference between walking in fear or walking in faith.
Because God is everywhere, you have the opportunity to experience a life free from worry and fear.
I have the greatest privilege to experience God anywhere at any time
Number three, because God is with me… I have the greatest privilege to experience God anywhere at any time. We can talk to God while driving to work, while washing dishes, mowing the yard, cleaning the house, taking a shower, or laying in a hospital bed. God is always ready and available to listen to His children.
An example of this is Philippians 4:5 which states, “The Lord is near. (6) Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. (7) And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (HCSB). Notice the nearness of God is closely related to talking to God. He is near. He is present. Experience Him throughout the day. Talk to Him. Listen to Him.
When you are engulfed and consumed with the presence of God two things are going to happen.
- You will experience the peace of God emotionally. We are told in verse 7 that “the peace of God… will guard your heart.” That word “heart” (kardia) includes your emotions, how you feel. When you truly experience the peace of God your emotions are guarded, protected, and defended against things like worry, anxiety, and fear. That’s what the presence and peace of God can do in your life.
- You will experience the peace of God mentally. We are told in verse 7 that “the peace of God… will guard your mind.” The word “mind” (noema) refers to the part of you that thinks. When you are experiencing the peace of God you can think clearly while in difficult situations. Some people when they face a stressful situation or a troubling situation they make decisions that they normally would not, they have thoughts about themselves and others that are not healthy, and they have thoughts about God that are not true. However, the presence and peace of God guard and protect and defend your mind and your thoughts against thoughts that don’t honor God, you, or others.
This guarding is able to happen because you are “in Christ.” This protection is only for believers.
- If you would like to know more about the presence of God and becoming a follower of Jesus and being “in Christ” then we would love to talk to you. On your seat was a Welcome Card….
- If you feel like you need someone to talk to and need someone to pray with you and for you let us know. Use the Welcome Card….