Perhaps simple acronyms will help us. Let's first look at FEAR.
- F is for Flight. When we are fearful we are likely to flee from any situation that we fear. In the process we tend to pull back from healthy friendships and activities, and that leads us down a lonely path.
- E is for Error. In a state of fear we begin to think in strange and unhealthy ways. We imagine worst case scenarios and dwell on negative "what ifs." We may even be able to identify that a particular thought process is unreasonable or even absurd, but that doesn't necessarily remove the resulting fear.
- A is for Anxiety. We feel anxious about our own safety, or the safety of people we love, and that makes it seem wiser to withdraw into perceived safety than to step out and take reasonable risks or even engage in normal daily activities.
- R is for Reaction. Instead of deciding on the best course of action, we get into a pattern of reacting to our emotional state or to perceived threats. These reactive decisions often lead us in negative directions.
How can we fight FEAR? With FAITH.
- F is for Family and Friends. We can tell a couple close people about our struggles and ask them to pray for us. We can ask someone to be with us at times when we feel most lonely or most vulnerable. Without relationships like these we can tend to withdraw into a shell of loneliness, which only increases fear rather than overcoming it.
- A is for Activity. Fear threatens to paralyze us. We can counter this by finding something active and enjoyable to do. Go to church. Meet a friend for coffee. Attend a show at a local theater. Take a short trip to see a beautiful place. Visit a park or a lake and spend a couple hours enjoying God's creation.
- I is for Insight. We can counter our fears with essential Truth from God's Word. Here are some verses on which we can meditate:
2 Timothy 1:7
1 John 4:18
- T is for Truth. In addition to the truth of God's Word, we can counter our fears with other truths from life. It is statistically improbable that our car will be stolen our our house invaded. It is extremely unlikely that I will be mugged on a suburban street or attacked while sitting in my church. We can let these simple truths overshadow erroneous thoughts and their affiliated fears.
- H is for Health. We want to eat healthily, sleep adequately, and find some form of exercise we enjoy. For starters, we can take a short walk every day. When we take care of our physical bodies, that helps our mental and emotional health as well.
You might point out that fear is an emotion, and it is difficult to counter emotion with reason. This is partially true, but the Word of God gives us many commands about our emotions: Love one another (John 13:34-35); rejoice always (1 Thessalonians 5:16, Philippians 4:4); be thankful (1 Thessalonians 5:18, Colossians 3:15). And the Bible tells us to fear not (John 14:27). So to an important degree, God calls us to control our emotions. And He gives us the power to do so through the Holy Spirit.
You might find that this is overly simplistic. Perhaps so. I admit that some fears are so intense or complex that they are hard to understand, much less fight. Yet I also know that the Lord doesn't want us trapped in our fears, so maybe these simplistic steps will help us at least to begin the process of overcoming fears in our lives.
Are you ready to fight FEAR with FAITH?