Fear held a tight grip on my life. It wasn’t just segmented in one area for me — no, the lies and anxiety of fear spread to so many of my relationships and situations. Pause and think about how fear impacts you. What do you fear specifically, and why does that fear have such power in your life?
Fear can have a crushing hold on us, but thankfully, there is One strong enough for all your fears. Though I still have much to learn and grow in this area, I’ve tasted the joy and freedom that comes in finding rest and joy through faith in who God is and what Jesus has already done.
There are, however, times when our fears act as cautionary emotions guiding us toward wisdom. The following is not exhaustive by any means, but it’s a list of my top five fears that aren’t good and the top five that are.
1. Fear of man
The Scriptures are clear on this issue: the fear of man is a snare (Proverbs 29:25). It often keeps us from proclaiming Christ for fear of what others might think. We lie, hide who we are and what we think, or say things we don’t believe motivated by the fear of man.
The fear of man is caring about what others think. Peter feared man and denied Christ three times. One remedy for this fear comes by caring more about what the Lord thinks and resting in the knowledge that because of Jesus, he sees only righteousness.
2. Fear of not measuring up
Failure is difficult to face. It’s hard in relationships, work, and the rest of life. We want to do everything well, but the problem is that often our measures aren’t healthy. We either use the world’s measure for greatness or use what we presume others think we should be doing (fear of man sneaking in here, too).
One remedy to this fear is embracing that we don’t measure up, but Jesus does. He is our measure, and he satisfied every failure.
3. Fear of other women
Comparison damages relationships and our love for one another. Social media presents many opportunities for us to compare, but what we must remember is that social media isn’t the problem. The problem is in our hearts.
Envy, covetousness, and jealousy are all heart problems that must be pruned out. One remedy to our comparison is to learn to rejoice. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and ask God for a heart that is content.
4. Fear of body image
We are rarely satisfied with the way we look. Again, those measures get in the way of us enjoying how the Lord has made us. When we look to the world’s standards for beauty we will always be disappointed and fall short. But maybe it’s not the world’s standards that you struggle with. Instead, you may be pressuring yourself to look a certain way, causing an idolatrous obsession with outward appearance.
One remedy is to remember that beauty really is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is worthy of praise. If we live long enough, we will wither away — but thanks be to God that the soul does not die with the body.
5. Fear of future
The future is unknown, and it’s difficult not knowing what’s next for us and our loved ones. When and how will we all die? Will our kids become Christians? Will our marriages survive the tumultuous years?
We don’t and can’t know, and it seems like it would be easier if we could simply be in control of everything and everyone. We want to be little gods. One remedy is to remember the character of God — He is good, sovereign, wise, and loving. We can also pray — we don’t have to sit around waiting, we can ask God for good things.
1. Dark alleys
Dark alleys serve as a metaphor for any life situation that seems unwise. I think the Lord gives us certain triggers and senses for the purpose of exercising caution. So, if we are alone, it may not be wise to head down a dark alley in life.
2. Strange men (and maybe women)
Like dark alleys, we want to be aware of our surroundings, especially as women. Exercising caution in parking garages, when parking at night, and in certain environments is practicing wisdom.
Trusting the Lord in every situation doesn’t mean the freedom to be foolish. That cautiousness you sense could be just what the Lord is giving you to exercise wisdom.
3. Sickness in the Body
This, too, could serve as a metaphor for churches that have a great lack in certain important areas for the health of the church and its members. This could be controversial — I imagine what’s important to me may not be a stressor for you. But something like a lack of sound doctrine would send me running for the hills.
As another example, with the increase in reports of children’s ministry workers abusing children, it’s a must that a church have policies in place for screening volunteers as well as proper policies while children are in the care and supervision of the church worker.
4. Bad counselors
The Scriptures warn that walking with the unwise can lead to destruction. There is, of course, great grace for those who are growing in the faith, and we are by no means called to isolate ourselves from unbelievers. But, this is one area where the fear of man lays a snare (a trap).
We don’t need to bow to the advice or emulate the example of a counselor who is not leading you toward heaven. For example, if you’ve been asked to compromise your convictions in any way, you must feel the freedom to say no — a good counselor will give you that freedom.
5. The fear of the Lord
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. The Scriptures tell us that we are to fear the Lord above all things. The fear of the Lord isn’t likely the fear that you might be thinking of. It’s not a fear that calls us to be afraid of God — as if he is a tyrannical monster.
It’s an awe, reverence, and honor of God. It’s an acknowledgement of his holiness, and our response as a result of that holiness is worship. We grow in the fear of Lord by reading His word, praying, and worshiping.
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Let’s take all fear, whether perceived as good or bad, to the Lord. All of these situations need loving guidance and wisdom from the Lord. Submit your requests to the Lord who provides generously to those who ask. And, above all, grow in your fear of the Lord, and find your strength, peace, and rest in Him.
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