Faith and Fear - Minding the Kings
Bible/ Devotion

Faith and Fear – A Look at Scripture

I always enjoy reading church signs. Either while driving, or while scrolling Pinterest. Some of them are funny, and some of them are encouraging and inspirational. I found one recently that made me really stop and think. Not because I really liked it, but because it stirred in my spirit as something that was untrue. The way they address the topic of fear really bothered me, and so I felt the need to rebut it. I’ve been praying about this for a few weeks. You may have noticed my lack of posts recently. This topic weighing on my thoughts and praying for the right words has been part of the quietness here. Today, though, I think I have it. So let’s jump in.

So that we are all on the same page, here is the church sign in question:

Fear and Faith - Church Sign

It reads “We can’t have faith and fear at the same time.” At first glance and with a passing thought this phrase may seem accurate. It looks like a call grow in your faith, and I’m sure that whoever put it up probably meant it that way. However, I think that it sends a false and potentially dangerous message.

 

The Facts About Fear

Fear is an emotion linked to an instinct. When we sense danger of some sort, whether physical or psychological, we feel fear. Some fear inducing dangers include things like having a car come very close to hitting us, or having to give a public speech. When we are afraid, our instinct of “fight or flight” kicks into try to keep us safe. God gave us the emotion of fear to keep us safe from harm.

Having strong faith does not mean you will never feel fear. And feeling fear does not mean you lack faith! When you wake up in the middle of the night to a loud noise, your first emotional response is going to be fear, no matter how much faith you have! There are many different types of fear, and different things that cause it. The causes are different for every person. What I am afraid of may not bother you a bit, and vis versa. What makes the difference is how we handle being afraid.

 

Scriptures on Fear

King David spent many years of his life on the run from people who wanted to kill him. The way he delt with it was to turn to God. In Psalm 56:3-4, for example, David says, “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not fear, what can flesh do to me?” This is the perfect response to feeling fear! He resolves to trust in God! And he remembers that flesh can’t really do anything to him, so he doesn’t have to hold on to that fear!

Faith and Fear - Psalm 56:3

In Psalm 34:4 David makes a similar statement, saying “I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” These verses prove that faith and fear can be present at the same time. That’s because fear is an emotion, while faith is a choice. When we feel afraid, we should stand against it with faith. Depending on the fear of course. Please don’t just stand there if you are about to be trampled bison or something. Run and thank God that your emotions alerted you to the danger!

Anyway, another scripture we find that addresses fear is found in 1 John 4:18. It says, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” This verse is typically used to say that we should not have fear, but that takes the scripture out of context. This  is talking about being afraid of God’s wrath and condemnation. We no longer need to be afraid of that because of Jesus’ work on the cross. It’s saying that you “have not been made perfect in love” meaning that you haven’t perfectly understood God’s love for you and His gift to you yet. It is in no way saying that if you feel afraid of something you aren’t saved! It’s saying God’s perfect love casts out the fear of torment in Hell!

One verse I know many people pray when they feel afraid, and one I have even prayed over my children, is 2 Timothy 1:7 which says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. I want to emphasize the word spirit here. This is talking about a spirit of fear, which is a persistent feeling of being afraid, worried, etc. The reference to a spirit of fear is liken to what we call anxiety, or an anxiety disorder. God did not give us anxiety! Anxiety is caused by things like brain chemistry or developmental issues, which only occurred after the fall of man. I also believe there are demons that inflict fear and other torments on us. They are obviously not of God! But to combat the spirit of fear, God has given us His Holy Spirit, who strengthens us with power, love, and a sound mind! To tell someone dealing with a spirit of fear that their problem is a lack of faith is a slap in the face. Instead, stand with them in the fight and remind them of God’s promises!

Faith and Fear - 2 Timothy 1:7

A final scripture I want to dig in to is Isaiah 41:10, which says, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes I will help you. I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” This verse is another one that is quoted to help us relieve fear, and rightfully so. God is not telling us that we don’t trust Him enough when we’re afraid. He’s telling us to dismiss that emotion when it comes because He is with us and strengthening us!

So even though we may feel the emotion of fear, we don’t have to wallow in it! We can use our faith, which we do have at the same time as our fear, to fight it by giving it to God, and fighting with His power!

 

Have you ever come across a misleading quote like the one I found? Do you have fears and anxieties that you have to battle with? Please tell me more about it in the comments!

For more reading on how to combat fear with faith, check out “4 Truths to Reflect on When Facing Fear” at Candidly Christian, and “What it Takes to Fight Fear” by Valerie Murray.

If you need prayer for your anxiety, please don’t hesitate to email me at jenniferking@mindingthekings.com. I am fighting it right along side you, my friend, and I would be happy to pray for you.

 

18 thoughts on “Faith and Fear – A Look at Scripture

  1. ‘fear is an emotion, while faith is a choice’
    You’re exactly right! The instinct and emotion of fear is real and strong, but doesn’t have to stick around. They may overlap for a time, but the choice of faith conquers fear!

  2. This is terrific, Jennifer. I love your clear explanations of the 5 Scripture passages and logical conclusion that you can have fear (emotion) and faith (choice) at the same time. Words and clarity matter and we need to speak and write with truth and intention. I have heard phrases that aren’t entirely true, and true phrases that are probably used without true heart behind them, like “God is good all the time. All the time, God is good.” How often when we say that do we heartfully accept God’s goodness in tough situations, or realize that God may actually oppose us when we oppose Him or carry about with arrogance?

    1. Thank you! I have heard that “God is good…” saying many times, and there have been times where it has come across as insincere, so I understand where you’re coming from.

  3. Hi Jennifer. I had to dwell on this topic of fear also. I agree with your thoughts. Fear appears suddenly and without warning when something happens, like an accident. But the minute we dwell in the fear, our faith has given way to the fear. Just like with anger, it might spring up within us but as long as we don’t allow it to take over then we are remaining faithful.

  4. Jennifer, thanks for your insightful comments on fear and faith. So often people do suggest that if we just had deeper faith and prayed more we would not feel fear. But as you comment, fear is a God-given emotion that is like a warning system to tell us that we need to be on the alert and/or get away from something. I also appreciate, as a registered clinical counsellor, your comment stating that anxiety is different than fear and often can be attributed to physiological causes which require doctor’s care and/or counselling. This is not about a lack of faith and when that is suggested it can be so demoralizing for someone who is in a battle with anxiety. But I do agree, prayer and reliance on God can help calm and reassure us. Turning to Scripture can be incredible helpful and reassuring that God is present, He cares, and He will provide and protect us. For Psalms, such as 56:3-4, help remind us that, “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not fear, what can flesh do to me?” We are never alone in our struggles. Praise God!

  5. I believe even though we experience fear, we do not have to let it control us. We can move forward in spite of fear. This topic is such a powerful one, thanks for sharing.

  6. That is an interesting sign, Jennifer. I’m with you. At first glance it looks right. But when I think about it, I think it’s untrue. I’m trying to remember where I heard it, but I recently had this same conversation with a friend. He said he has learned over the years that fear is evidence of faith. If we had no faith we would be oblivious to danger not afraid. That made me think about my own life. I’m prone to worry. But it’s because I believe God is good and in control and powerful enough to help me that when it doesn’t happen on my terms I become afraid. If I didn’t think those things at all I wouldn’t be as affected by danger until I was dead. I don’t know. Maybe I’m off on this, but faith and fear don’t seem incompatible to me. The key is moving forward in faith despite my fear. As you said, faith is action. Great thoughts! My brain is chewing on this.

  7. I’m so glad you took time to think and study on this. You approached this in a very balanced way and your points are incredibly helpful and empowering. Very clear teaching here. I know a lot of people who would not own up to the fear because of this stigma. But you are so right, fear is at its basest a reaction to our instincts. Those instincts were given to us by God. I don’t know if you’ve ever read The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker
    but I think you would like it. Great post!

  8. Fresh insight, Jennifer. I often hear the saying, “Faith over fear.” And that is different. But I think you are correct that just because fear is present doesn’t mean we lack faith. I’ve always loved 2 Timothy 1:7 and quote it often when I’m fearful.

    This is my favorite phrase here, “fear is an emotion, while faith is a choice.” Amen and Amen!

    1. Faith over fear is a saying I’ve heard before too. I think the sentiment of it is that we should walk in faith rather than in fear, which is an encouraging reminder. Thank you, Karen!

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