Pastor Robert Hammond, Long Hill Baptist Church, Trumbull, CT
Do you realize that the Bible teaches believers to fear just one thing? That one thing is the LORD himself! In Proverbs 9:10, the LORD inspired Solomon to write, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom…” The simple truth is that a believer who has developed a Biblical fear of the LORD has nothing else to fear.
More than 50 times throughout His Word, God has told his people to “fear not.” Why? Our sin nature tends lead us to worry – to suffer anxiety. In Timothy 1:6-7, Paul reminds us that “… God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” Praise God that the Bible gives us God’s own plan for overcoming fear and anxiety.
So, what can we do to overcome anxiety?
1. Be sure that you genuinely know Christ as your Savior. In Matthew 6, Jesus promised to meet the needs of those who have first sought his righteousness, i.e. people who know Christ as their Savior. The Bible teaches that in order to receive forgiveness of sins we must repent and receive Christ as our Savior. To repent is simply to make a conscious decision to turn away from sin and to turn toward Christ. The Bible say, "...there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth," (Luke 15:10). The Bible promises that "...Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved," (Romans 10:13). "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life," (John 3:16). The Bible also teaches that, when we are genuinely saved, the Holy Spirit testifies in our spirit that we are saved. In 1 John 4:13, the Bible says, “Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.”
2. Understand that anxiety is often like a dashboard warning light - alerting us to a problem that needs to be addressed.
In Psalm 32, David described a bout with emotional turmoil. He attributed his experience to his failure to confess sin. David reports that his gladness and joy were restored only when he confessed his sin to God!
In the Bible, we that Asaph experience emotional turmoil due to a sinful focus on self instead of God. In Psalm 77, Asaph described his emotional state using language that sounds strikingly similar to our modern notionof anxiety and depression. Asaph’s turmoil resolved only when he shifted his focus from himself to the LORD. If your emotional health is suffering due to a prideful focus on yourself, ask the LORD forgive this sin. Receive his forgiveness, instruction and joy. Psalm 32:11 commands, “Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.”
3. Ask the LORD to help you “fear not” -- because you belong to Him! In Isaiah 43:1, the Bible says, “But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.”
4. Ask the LORD help you give all your worries to Him daily in prayer. In 1 Peter 5:6-7, the Bible says, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 7Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”
In Philippians 4:6-7, Paul writes, “Be careful (anxious) for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
5. Ask the LORD to help you focus your mind on Godly things. In Philippians 4:8, Paul writes, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
6. Ask the LORD to help you focus on His promises to meet the needs of believers rather than focusing on worries about your needs. In Matthew 6:25-33, Jesus said, “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? 26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? 27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? 28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin… 31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
7. Ask the LORD to help you see Him as a refuge from difficulties that might bring fear. In Psalm 46:1-2, the psalmist writes, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.”
8. Ask the LORD to give you peace in your heart. In John 16:33 (Jesus said, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
9. Ask the LORD to help you “let not your heart be troubled.” Ask Christ to grow your faith in his promises to meet your needs. In John 14:1, Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.”
10. Ask the LORD to help you focus on the fact that He is in perfect control of all things. In Job 42:2, Job says, “I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee.” In Psalm 33:11, the psalmist writes, “The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.” And in Psalm 145:13, the Bible says, “Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations…” Understand that God even controls the weather. In Jonah 1:4, we observe that “the LORD sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken.”
11. Understand that our God is a God of great comfort. In 2 Corinthians 1:3, Paul writes, "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;" (2 Cor 1:3). And in John 14:18, Jesus says, "I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you." In John 14:26, Jesus said, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”
If you would like to further discuss Biblical answers to personal struggles, contact Pastor Hammond at Long Hill Baptist Church, 203-268-5104 or firstname.lastname@example.org.