I face it every day.
I’m often ashamed of my fear. I’ve been a church-going girl for most of my life so I know that again and again in the Bible God told His children not to be afraid.
From Elijah to David, from Isaiah to Jeremiah, God continuously reminded His people not to fear.
When Joseph considered canceling his engagement to Mary, an angel appeared to him telling him not to be afraid (Matthew 1:19-20). When Jesus charged the twelve disciples with their responsibility, He told them not to be afraid of those who would seek to harm them for proclaiming the truth (Matthew 10:26-28). From the women gathering at the empty tomb to the disciples seeing the resurrected Jesus, the message was the same: do not be afraid (Matthew 28:5, 10).
In every instance, people faced legitimate fears. But each time God’s message remained consistent.
It seems God understood that we would wrestle with fear.
During a particularly challenging and stressful season of work, I was wrestling with deep insecurities. Afraid that I wasn’t cut out for the level of leadership I held, my mind began spinning off multiple worst-case scenarios pricking all my greatest fears – fear of failing, fear of being fired, fear of not leading well, fear of making poor decisions, on and on it went.
As I lay in bed one night unable to sleep because of the speed at which my mind was racing, I shared my thoughts and feelings with my husband. He was shocked by the emotional load I was carrying. I was amazed at how freeing it was to verbalize my fears. I didn’t realize how lonely and isolated I was by wallowing in those fears by myself. Giving voice to them allowed me to share the burden and more importantly, my husband had the opportunity to speak truth to the isolation that fear dangerously creates.
We know how fear affects us. We acknowledge the darkness, isolation, and inactivity that accompany it, but how do we overcome it?
We read all the “do not be afraid” scriptures and are more likely to feel guilt for not having the faith to overcome it than find peace in those statements.
But take another look at every time God says, “Do not be afraid.” Notice that His message doesn’t end there. Behind every statement He gives us a reason why we shouldn’t fear. He knew that our fears need to be replaced with strong promises. We need to replace fear with truth. Listen to the statements of truth that followed, “Do not be afraid…”
I am your shield, your very great reward. (Genesis 15:1)
God has heard. (Genesis 21:17)
For I am with you. (Isaiah 41:10)
For the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)
You have found favor with God. (Luke 1:30)
When we face fear, we must confront our fears with the truth, and that truth is the powerful reminder of God’s constant presence.
God doesn’t say, “Do not be afraid. You’ve got this!”
He says, “Do not be afraid. I’ve got this.”
That truth has the power to overcome all our fears.
Philippians 4:13 is such a familiar reminder that we almost miss it: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (NKJV)
Our ability is in His strength. God’s constant presence is the greater truth that confronts our fears.
Whatever fear you’re facing today, remember the truth that God’s got it. He is present and He is faithful.
Ask anyone who knows her well, and you’ll hear words like hard-working, loyal, insightful and encouraging to describe Jenni Catron. A self-proclaimed “leadership junkie,” Jenni spends her days serving the local church. Most recently she served for nine years as the Executive Director of Cross Point Church in Nashville, Tennessee, where she led the staff and oversaw the ministry of its five campuses. Prior to joining the staff of Cross Point, she worked in Artist Development in the Christian music industry.
Jenni’s passion is to lead well and to inspire, equip and encourage others to do the same. She speaks at conferences and churches nationwide, seeking to help others develop their leadership gifts and lead confidently in the different spheres of influence God has granted them. Jenni blogs at www.jennicatron.com and contributes to a number of other online publications including churchleader.com and catalystspace.com. Outreach Magazine has recognized Jenni as one of the 30 emerging influencers reshaping church leadership and she has been featured in Church Executive magazine as well.
This week Nelson Books is giving away 5 copies of Jenni’s book, Clout: Discover and Unleash Your God-Given Influence! Enter to win a copy by commenting over on Monday’s post. Winners will be chosen randomly after midnight on Friday, July 18.