Fall is traditionally the season of greatest changes—students transition to new schools, those in the workforce begin new jobs, and parents experience the “empty nest syndrome,” to name just a few. What is your reflex reaction when change occurs—fear or faith in your heavenly Father who loves you unconditionally and promises to give you peace and contentment in the midst of potentially challenging situations (Jer. 31:3; John 14:27)?
Fear is defined as “a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined." (1) We live in a fear dominated world—serious illness, weight gain, financial reversal, old age, death, rejection, and fear of man are all categories of fear that cause a focus away from God and toward the circumstance. Fear is real and it is not always negative—when you sense danger fear usually stimulates you to fight or flee. However, the fear of man is a negative reaction because you are actually reversing “the royal law” described in Matthew 22:36-40 and placing more focus on loving people (Lev. 19:18) than on loving God (Deut. 6:5). Humanly speaking, this reversal is a natural response because we meet many of our yearnings through loving and being loved by others—affirmation, encouragement, companionship to counter loneliness, and provision of physical needs—that’s the love portion; but others’ potential ability to expose, humiliate, shame, reject, ridicule, revile, attack, oppress, or harm us physically, mentally, or spiritually provokes the fear of man response. As an introverted college/seminary professor each semester I have the choice of allowing the fear of man to affect my classroom performance. Though I have many years of successful teaching experience the most challenging part of starting a new semester is the potential that this group of students will reject me. I have two choices. I can either focus on my heavenly Father’s previous faithfulness or I can allow negative thoughts to plunge me into despair. Such a response would undoubtedly lead to failure. By choosing to “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” by God’s grace I continue to excel in the classroom (2 Cor. 10:5).
Fear’s Consequences and Antidotes
The consequences of fear are not usually positive—it can . . .
- Hinder your relationship with others.
- Stifle your ability to think rationally.
- Rob you of joy.
- Contribute to indecisiveness.
- Reduce your productiveness.
- Create inner turmoil.
- Injure your relationship with God.
Since fear produces such detrimental results, it seems reasonable to locate an antidote to it. Scripture teaches me that the antidote is to walk by faith rather than fear. I have learned from the Scriptures that
- The natural reaction to fear is panic—the antidote is to replace potential fear with trust in God (Ps. 56:3-4, 11).
- I am commanded to refrain from fearing the reproach of men (Isa. 51:7).
- Since God comforts me, why should I be afraid (Isa. 51: 12-16)?
- I can walk by faith in every circumstance because God has promised to never leave or forsake me (Heb. 13:5-6).
The account that was shared by an African missionary about a herd of lions is a reminder that Scripture constantly urges God’s children to trust rather than fear:
This particular story is about the old king. You see a lion can only be the king as long as he is strong enough to hold his position— and there is always another lion trying to usurp it. Usually by the time the old king is replaced he does not have any teeth and only a few claws. His hair is matted, he has arthritis in the joints, and he no longer can fight to keep his position so a younger lion becomes the new king.
However, the old king is not entirely useless—he still has a role in the herd when the lions go on a hunt. When the herd hunts, the old, mean-looking, ferocious lion stands on one side while the young hunter lions hide in the bushes on the opposite side. When the prey appears, the former king looks at it and begins to roar; the roar scares the prey so badly that it runs to the opposite side—right into the waiting jaws of the hunter lions that attack and destroy it. If the prey had run toward the roar, more than likely it would have been safe, since all the old lion had left was his roar.
Scripture teaches that your “adversary, the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith” (1 Peter 5:8-9). I have learned that Satan is going to attempt to derail the role my heavenly Father has for me in His Kingdom. Several years ago it became clear that my heavenly Father wanted me to relocate so that I could stabilize a new college program in Family and Consumer Sciences while concurrently developing a graduate program. He cemented this direction for me when my Southern California home sold in January four hours after it was place on the market. Despite the numerous joys I experience in my new environment Satan still attempts to cause me to question my decision. Focusing on the reality that the house sale was one of God’s many confirmations for my relocation allows me to “run to the roar” and resist Satan’s attempt to cause me to be discontent (2 Cor. 10:3-5; Eph. 6:17).
As you know sound doctrine and obey His Word, you find that fear is dispelled because Jesus defeated Satan on the cross thus stripping him of his power and leaving him with his frightening, but harmless, roar (John 12:23-33; Col. 2:11-15; Heb. 2:14-15). If you are going to refuse to succumb to Satan’s impotent roar you must replace fear with God’s Word (Ps. 119:11; Eph. 6:10-20). As you do so may I encourage you to use the strategy I began many years ago? Purchase a journal and inscribe it with Psalm 103:1-2. Daily record only God’s blessing to you. Weekly review the blessings and as your journal expands return to the blessings of the previous year. I am confident that peace and contentment will replace fear in your life as it has mine.
The only positive fear recorded in scripture is the fear of God. This fear is a reverence of God’s majesty, power, and greatness; as you embrace the biblical definition of fear you will most likely find the influence of the fear dissipating as peace and contentment fill your heart and mind.
This month a new feature to “The Everyday Homemaker,” Kelsey’s Korner, is launched. Recently the Homemaking concentration at Southwestern transitioned to the Family and Consumer Sciences Program. Kelsey is the new assistant to the program and is a “spiritual grandchild” having graduated from the Family and Consumer Sciences program I started at The Master’s University. We are modeling the Titus 2 principles described in my “mentoring” blog posts as she adds her biblical and professional insight to each month’s topic. Thanks, Kelsey, for your contribution!
My husband and I just relocated to Texas from California. Although the move originally sounded fun and exciting, we soon realized that change is HARD. In the midst of the unfamiliar quietness of being unemployed, my trust in God’s plan started to dissolve with every grocery purchase and failed work application. The loneliness of not having a community or church to be a part of was quickly beginning to envelope me, and fear was beginning to rule my thoughts.
During these times, there are a number of things I have learned to mediate on to refocus my mind.
- Nothing can truly satisfy my soul like my Lord and Savior. No number of friends, promising jobs, or financial security can ever give the peace promised in God's Word (Phil. 4:7).
God's promises are trustworthy. Everything around us may be temporary and fleeting, "but the word of God will stand forever" (Isa 40:8). Spending time thinking of all God's ageless promises in the midst of a changing season of life is comforting.
Although we have "homes" here on this earth, we are called in scripture to remember that we are foreigners and aliens here (1 Chron. 29:15; 1 Peter 2:11). When we move to a new place and everything seems different and strange we can take comfort in remember our true and abiding home in heaven that is being prepared for us (1 Cor. 2:9)!
THE EVERYDAY HOMEMAKER’S MONTHLY MEDITATION THOUGHT
God’s Word says, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
Therefore, I may boldly say, “Though Satan challenges me to fear the assignment God has given to me, through Christ I can complete it!”
A GIFT FOR YOU!
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Blessings on your day as you focus on making your house a home!
(1) Random House Webster’s College Dictionary, 2nd ed., s.v. “fear.”