The Opposite of Fear
February 9, 2021 | Jessica Benko
Lately, I’ve been hearing and seeing the word ‘fear’ a lot ...
… fear for the next generation;
… fear for our country (regardless of political affiliation);
… fear for our health;
… fear for the economy;
… fear of the unknown.
Of course, I’ve been fearful — especially in the midst of a crisis (looking at you, pandemic!), or when things feel like they are spiraling out of control. You probably have, too. After all, really bad things happen every day.
God doesn’t want us to fear, though. Not for ourselves. Not for others. Not for our worldly circumstances. Why?
Because He is in control. And with us. Always.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9, (NIV)
“For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” – Isaiah 41:13 (NIV)
What’s more, He put us — and our parents, siblings, children, friends, colleagues, complete strangers, world leaders, etc. — here, at this exact moment in time, in these exact circumstances, for a specific purpose. We are part of His plan for this time in history, and He has equipped us accordingly.
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
This truth has been especially comforting to me, because my typical fears usually have to do with my children or husband, and their present/future circumstances, e.g., What effect will virtual school have on long-term learning and relationships? What role does/will social media play in their lives? Are we really doing everything we can to ensure Christ is at the center of everything we do?
Sometimes these questions, and others, feel ever-present. So, I have to intentionally — and repeatedly — acknowledge that I’m not in control, while prayerfully seeking wisdom and guidance on how to respond to each situation in a Christ-like and purposeful way. I fail a lot. But I keep trying. Because fear is an extremely heavy burden that we were never meant to carry.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” – Philippians 4:6 (NIV)
Recently, I’ve been considering how to reframe my fearful thoughts into more “God-approved,” biblically-grounded thoughts. Meaning, instead of fearing something, I think about an opposite of fear and how it could apply to the situation. For example, I’d rather …
… hope for the next generation;
… prayerfully support — and peacefully act — for the betterment of our country;
… have wisdom when making health-related choices;
… have confidence that the economy will be okay;
… show faith during the unknown.
Like most things, this is often easier said than done. But when I remember that God is in control amidst a scary and chaotic (and temporary!) world — it lightens the burdens I’m carrying, and creates more space for God. Which is exactly what I want!
“The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” – Psalm 118:6, (NIV)