Sixteen years ago, the world was in a panic over the Y2K bug. Computer clocks were not going to be able to cope with the new millennial date and the resulting havoc would bring almost apocalyptic disaster in ‘the year two thousand’. It seems almost laughable now, but people were stockpiling groceries, water and fuel; all because a Pentium III couldn’t read! Fear so often rules our thought processes and decisions, but many of the larger than life concerns over what we think may happen to us need objectivity in the present and not just with the passage of time. Here are a few important steps to conquering fear.
- Confrontation. To avoid fears is to let them have power over us. A fear of flying needs us to book a plane ticket. When we live motivated by self-protection we become lord, though Christ actually needs to be. When we get to decide what we will and won’t do through unhealthy motivations, we build self-justification into those decisions and don’t even hear our own irrationality. Identifying and processing fears and poor self-talk with others can help to subject these to the higher reality of what God says and how He wants us to grow. In this way, we can walk by faith and not feelings (2 Corinthians 5:7). When we do, we confront our fears just as David ran to confront Goliath (1 Samuel 17:48).
- Context. Assess what is really going on. When a child is rebellious or a teenager makes poor life choices, parents can speculate all sorts of disasters ahead, rather than trust what they have sown and keep relationship in love, which actually casts out fear (1 John 4:18). Of course, some fears may be real, but are they realistic? Are we feeding fear so that the monster grows? Emotional reactions in parents can signal a need to ‘let go and let God…’ When we assess circumstances according to what we shouldn’t feel, what we shouldn’t look like to others, or what shouldn’t be happening to us, we need to get help to check the reality, separate the tangled spaghetti strands and replace emotion with calm confidence in God to help us address each problem objectively. We need to believe that His truth can set us free (John 8:31-32).
- Course. To stay on course needs a clear vision and faith in what God says about our circumstances when we are not always sure of what is going on. The angel delivered the news of Jesus’ birth to Mary, saying, “With God nothing will be impossible” (meaning that no word from God could be spoken without the power for its own fulfilment), but Mary’s faith was to let it be according to His Word (Luke 1:37-38). When we are being tossed in rough seas, we can lose our bearings, but we need courage to trust God to steady the ship and to hold our course, rather than bemoaning the unfairness of the storm. We need a vision shaped by the conviction of God’s Word in order to do this (Romans 1:17, Hebrews 11:1).
Often the associated fear of failure can make us feel trapped. A victim mentality can set in and it gets exacerbated by setbacks. Pushing through and recommitting to the breakthrough needs us to appreciate that God has already given us the victory (1 Corinthians 15:57) if we are in His will. The power of the Cross helps us to reclaim our future in confidence.