Faith vs. Fear: What does the Bible have to say?
Hebrews 11:1 describes what faith is: "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things unseen." It's important to recognize what is meant by the word "hope" here. This isn't the "Oh, I hope it doesn't rain today" kind of hope. This is an unshakable hope— Biblical hope that cannot be separated from faith. A friend of mine once perfectly tied the two together with this question, "Without hope, can there be faith?"
Fear is the opposite of faith. It's the other side of the coin so to speak. Fear is lacking in faith. It is a denial of the hope that God will take care of us no matter what trials we come up against—especially those that draw out our deepest terrors. I don't think I need to go further into defining fear, do I? It's a state of being in which we lack belief, and we have all encountered it at some point in our lives. Let's move on to what the Bible has to say on both fear and faith.
Faith is a Gift from God
"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and not of yourselves, it is a gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9) Faith is not something we can originate in ourselves. It is purely a gift from God. But faith should not remain stagnant; God wants us to grow in our faith. "For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control." (2 Timothy 1:7) By growing in our faith, fear will find it more difficult to get ahold of us. Sounds like a sweet deal, doesn't it?
How do I grow in my faith?
By studying God's word and talking to Him in prayer. Romans 10:17 says it pretty clearly: "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." Our faith come from relying on God and His faithfulness. How can we know His will and Word without studying it? Set aside time to study His word and have some time in with Him in quiet prayer. Start doing it today! Don't wait until you're in the midst of a trial to grow in the Lord. Like the old cliché goes, there is no time like the present.
What do I do when I'm afraid?
Psalm 56:3 records the famous king David confessing to God, "When I am afraid, I will put my trust in you." David understood where to turn when he was afraid. Often, it is through those times of fear and trials that we grow the most in our faith. God uses adversity to develop a strong faith within us.
Can you think back to a time that seemed so dark you could not imagine any possible way out? Think about that event in your life, then look for ways that God sustained you. Remember that God does not always give us precisely what we're asking for, but He will do what is best for us.
Every time you are afraid or faced with adversity, use that time as an opportunity to grow in your faith. Keep in mind that even though it may not seem like it at the time, God will never send a difficulty your way that is too big for you to handle with His help. First Corinthians 10:13 says, "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."
God can handle anything that happens in your life. Your responsibility is to trust that He will take care of you.
God is gracious and good. Understanding that and letting yourself rest in the hope of His goodness will help you through your weaknesses and through times of fear. "Be anxious in nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7)
Go to God and talk to Him about your fears. He will be faithful to help you through them. His Word is filled with rich promises on which you may lay claim. Open your Bible, see what it has to say on the specific fear plaguing you, then ask God to help you.
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