Somewhere along the lines, my daughter developed a fear of spiders. For as long as I can remember, she has been apprehensive around them including the teeny-weeny little ones that would die from a decent adult sneeze. Over the Christmas holidays, her fear reached an unhealthy level. It was getting debilitating. She couldn’t go to the toilet by herself. She wouldn’t go in her room by herself. And any attempt to force her, would be met with a genuinely terrifying screaming attack. She was petrified. It took some time and multiple strategies to get her back to a sense of normality over a significant number of weeks.
Fear is such a widespread problem. I, too, have feared greatly over my life. The main fear I have is probably my ears being blocked. Don’t judge me, fears are usually irrational (it’s probably got more to do with my fear of feeling trapped actually). I am way better of course, but I just feel this apprehension whenever I think about going on a flight, especially in a smaller aircraft.
We innately know that fear is not what we were designed to experience, since perfect love drives out fear (1 John 4:18). Why then do we still struggle with fear, despite all the references in scripture that tell us that we don’t need to?
Fear occurs when we face (or contemplate facing) something that we believe we cannot handle. We’ve assessed that which threatens us, and decided that we don’t have the resources within or at hand, to cope with what may unfold. Based on what we know about ourselves and the situation before us, we conclude that we do not have the means internally to manage the consequences of such an interaction. Evidently, childhood trauma can play a big factor in fear, since our perception of what we can and can’t handle is filtered through the lens of the inner child who wasn’t able to realistically handle the abusive situations they did face.
The story of David and Goliath is particularly telling of the inner battle that may ensue. Before David came along, all the Israelite army were convinced that they were unable to beat Goliath. They believed that in the face of this great giant, they did not have the skill or the resources to handle Goliath, and inevitably their death was a real possibility. They didn’t believe they were equals. Let alone capable of usurping his intimidating display. And so, the assessment they did caused none to be willing to fight him. Then along comes baby-faced shepherd boy David with his cheese and bread, who decides that not only can he face Goliath without any formal combat training, but that he can win. Why? It ultimately comes down to this:
David knew that God in him, made him bigger than any adversary on earth.
He wasn’t looking only to his own resources. He knew what God could do through Him. He’d already seen it time and again, when he fought the wild beasts. There is nothing about a young shepherd boy, that we would logically consider him able to overcome a bear. Anyone would call it impossible to brave such a confrontation with a wild unpredictable beast. He had a long history of God repeatedly coming through in life threatening situations, that he could draw on as a reminder.
On account of the Holy Spirit, we are no longer fighting battles with human strength, instead we embody the power of the Spirit of God. If we want to defeat our fears, we are going to have to do two things:
- Grow our perception of the Holy Spirit that is in us
- Endure enough challenges to establish a history of Gods faithfulness in our lives
Our understanding of who God is, and what He is capable of, must grow larger than the size of the things we fear. If our picture of God is not powerful and overcoming God, it is a sign that we lack an accurate understanding of who He is. If I come against something now that scares me, it’s an indicator that I need to really invest time with God in His word, because the picture I have of who He is, is clearly inaccurate. And I mustn’t have enough evidence of His faithfulness, which means I better take a chance and walk through whatever He is putting before me, because it’s intended to establish a history of His personal faithfulness to me. Because if my picture of God was accurate, why would I be afraid? And if I had an established history of His faithfulness, what cause would I have to fear?