Choosing to act in spite of fear

Our world is full of fear. It seems like almost everyone is driven by it, whether they realize it or not. It’s so easy to give in to fear because it’s so sneaky all the time. It can just creep up on you in any circumstance, and before you know it, you’re making decisions based on it. But Christians aren’t supposed to make decisions based in fear.

Tree growing between two mountains - Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Tree growing between two mountains – Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Today’s verses are Psalm 46:1-2.

God is our refuge and strength,
    always ready to help in times of trouble.
So we will not fear when earthquakes come
    and the mountains crumble into the sea.

The Psalms are full of instances where David talks about fear and being afraid and having courage, but Psalm 46 is one of those Psalms that stands out. If you have an opportunity to read it, you should.

What I love about this passage is that it identifies that God is our refuge and our source of strength. Not our abilities or our talents or our family members. Not our jobs. Not our homes. Not anything in the world. Not even our financial stability. God is our refuge. God is our strength.

That alone blows my mind. Because God made everything. He made the universe. He made the world. He made me. He knows how everything fits. He knows how everything works. He knows — well — everything. And not only does He provide a safe place for us to go when we’re afraid, this verse says He’s always ready to help.

I’ll be honest. I love people, but I’m not always ready to help them. I want to be. But I’m human enough to sometimes care more about my own comfort than someone else’s. I’m working on that. But God isn’t like that at all. He’s always ready to help.

But what I love about this verse the most is that it says “we will not fear.” Not “we do not fear” or “we can not fear” and not even that “we should not fear” but that “we will not fear.”

Maybe I’m a language nerd. Well, I am a language nerd. But that one little helping verb makes a huge difference in how we’re supposed to handle fear.

Fear is not something we should be ashamed of. Let’s be real with each other here. Everyone struggles with fear. It’s a universal problem. If it weren’t a problem for everyone, the Bible wouldn’t talk about it all the time. So if you’ve been afraid or if you are afraid or if you expect that you will be afraid again sometime in the future, don’t be ashamed of it. Don’t hide it. Don’t ignore it. It’s normal.

And I guarantee, if the earth starts quaking or if the mountains start crumbling into the sea, you’ll be afraid. You’re going to feel some fear. I would. But the beauty of the statement “we will not fear” indicates choice.

You can choose to be afraid. And likewise, you can choose to give that fear to God and let Him handle it.

Fear isn’t always voluntary. It comes on me unexpectedly at times. It surprises me more often than not because I don’t consider myself a timorous sort of person. But I do struggle with fear when it comes to trusting other people. And I’m learning that when I feel afraid I can actually choose what I do: to act on the fear or to act in spite of the fear. And the only way I can act in spite of fear is to give that fear to God and trust that He can take care of the details.

Giving something like fear to God is difficult because once you’ve given it to Him you have no more excuses not to act. You can give prayer requests to God all day long. That’s easy because in many cases those are circumstances where you can’t do anything. You can’t fix it, so just give it to God. Easy peasy. You can trust the future to God all day long. That’s easy too because we can’t see the future, and it’s not that difficult to turn over something you don’t understand to Someone who does. But fear?

Fear is my control mechanism. Fear tells me when to stop pushing. Fear tells me when I’ve gone too far. Fear tells me what other people think of me. And if I give that up, how will I have any control over my life?

But am I supposed to have control over my life? Is my life even my own?

No. It’s not. My life belongs to God.

So I can choose to live by fear and let it dictate my actions and my choices and my thoughts about people and my thoughts about myself. But if I do that, I’ll never live up to my potential. I’ll never get to do the things that God has for me to do. And if I don’t get to do the things that God has for me to do, why has He put me here? Why am I here if not to live for Christ?

Fear is a choice. God offers us the strength to face fear by relying on Him for the courage to act even when we feel like nothing is going to work. So the next time you encounter fear — the next time you feel afraid — stop. Recognize that you are afraid. Identify what’s scaring you. And make your decision: to either act on that fear or to give it to God and act in spite of it.

He won’t let you down.

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