Uncovering Our Fears

Editors’ note: Today we begin a series of articles on overcoming fear, worry, and anxiety. The first deals with uncovering our fears. The second contrasts godly and ungodly fears. The third will seek to define and describe four types of fears. The fourth and fifth articles will focus on a biblical response to fear by examining how you can fight fear with fear and how you can fight fear with truth.

by Karen Helmer

I have a confession to make: I’m afraid of heights, getting on escalators going down, and I’m not too fond of bees, spiders, or snakes. What are you afraid of? These are kind of silly fears, but what about these: what people think of me; that I’m a complete failure; the unknown; that I’m not in control of everything; that my children will reject Christ; that I’ll be alone forever; that other people are judging me and will reject me; sickness and death, etc. These are the fears that can haunt us and keep us up at night.

Why are we so afraid? Where do these fears come from and how can we get rid of them…or at least cope with them? These are some of the questions we’re going to look at over several blog posts.

The command “fear not/do not be afraid” occurs over 150 times in Scripture, making it the number one most often repeated command in the Bible. The word “fear” appears 271 times; “afraid” 212 times; “worry” 13 times; “anxiety/anxious” 11 times; and “fret” 4 times. That’s a grand total of 511 times that this subject comes up in Scripture!
This tells me a few things:

  1. We’re going to struggle with fear. It wouldn’t be in God’s Word this many times if it wasn’t going to be a problem for us.
  2. The command “fear not/do not be afraid” tells me that we don’t have to (and shouldn’t) give in to fear. Fear does not have to and should not rule our lives. The command “fear not” means that it IS possible to not fear!
  3. God knows that we’re going to struggle with fear and He wants to help us. He addresses fear in His Word. He gives us many examples of people who struggled with fear, and He shows us how we can overcome fear.

The first time we see fear is only three chapters into the Bible. Genesis 3:10 says, “Adam answered the Lord, ‘I heard You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.’”

I wonder what the world was like before fear entered. It must have been spectacular! Can you imagine how free Adam and Eve must have felt? They never knew a moment of worry or anxiety.

The bees and spiders never bothered them! More importantly, there was no fear in their relationship with one another or with God.

Fear came because sin came. I’m not saying that it’s always sinful to be fearful, although sometimes it can be. What this means is that sin distorted everything. It distorts what and how we think, how we feel, how we perceive the world and people around us, and how we interact with others and with God. Adam and Eve’s first reaction to fear was shame and the urge to cover themselves up. Fear, shame, and hiding all go hand-in-hand. Can you relate?

Kristin Tabb writes, “Fear exists because sin has broken this world and distorted it, leaving much beyond our control. We are finite creatures and fear has become part of our makeup. We can’t avoid fearful feelings in our dependent state” (Pulling the Mask Off Of Fear). Fear has been a part of the fallen human experience from the very beginning of time. Every one of us has or will struggle with fear to one degree or another. But, God knows this about us. He knows how easy it is for us to become fearful, worried, or anxious. And in His grace He has shown us the way out!

In Matthew 11:28-30 Christ says, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Being plagued by fears, worries, and anxieties is wearisome. It’s a burden we’re not meant to carry. Do your fears make you feel like you’re carrying around a heavy burden? Begin to “come to Christ” and lay the burden of fear at His feet. He will give you rest for your soul…the very place where we all need and want rest.

In the next post we’re going to explore the difference between godly fears and ungodly fears. For further thought:

  1. Meditate and pray through Psalm 139:23-24. God knows your heart more intimately than you do. Ask Him to reveal your hidden fears and anxieties.
  2. Track your fears, worries and anxieties. What are your biggest fears? What thoughts gnaw at you or keep you awake at night? Write them down and bring them to the Lord in prayer.

A few recommended resources:

  • A Shelter in the Time of Storm, Paul Tripp
  • Overcoming Fear, Worry, & Anxiety, Elyse Fitzpatrick
  • Running Scared, Ed Welch
  • Trusting God, Jerry Bridges