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:
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!
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!
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!
If you need prayer for your anxiety, please don’t hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am fighting it right along side you, my friend, and I would be happy to pray for you.