“Why should I be afraid?” Israel’s King David once asked.
I could give him plenty of reasons, from a pulmonary embolism that could have taken my life to a succession of less threatening but still uncomfortable and debilitating ailments, most recently the need for cataract surgery.
Instead of worry, I decided to arm myself with encouragements not to give in to fear. I soon learned every time the Bible tells me to not be afraid, it gives a reason.
It often gives additional instructions about what “just” do instead. As I adjust my attitude, my fear level drops.
“Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today.” (Exodus 14:13 NLT)
Given time, most issues will resolve. Sometimes I’m supposed to get to work or even go on the offensive. But I start by standing still. God’s in control, and He’s so much more powerful than I am on every level.
“The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” (Exodus 14:14 NLT) The phrase “stay calm” follows “standing still” in the Bible. Stillness implies calm, undisturbed by outside forces, not showing or even feeling strong emotion, e.g., fear. The physical action of standing without wavering occurs most easily when I am calm.
“Just open your eyes and see how the wicked are punished.” (Psalm 91:8 NLT.)
Take a look at the larger picture. When the doctor told me I had a pulmonary embolism, I had already passed the first survival test. I hadn’t died in a heart attack as soon as it developed.
Recently, I spent eight hours in an emergency room because of chest pain which turned out to be gastric difficulties. Over the hours I spent watching the ER fill, empty, and fill again with new patients, I opened my eyes to those in much worse shape than me. I could afford to wait while newborn babies sick from pneumonia cried feebly and accident victims hovered on the brink of life and death.
“Just remember what the Lord your God did.” (Deuteronomy 7:18-21 NLT)
Remember the past. Before my last surgery, the doctor warning me it was serious, implying “and you could die.” Somehow, I found peace—and I survived.
The more often something like that happens, the easier it becomes to remember God. Whatever happens, I can trust him. The heart and mind connect head knowledge with life experience. Past difficulties increase my confidence that God has a purpose behind the current trial that’s tempting me to fear.
Just have faith (Mark 5:36 NLT)
This guideline feels obvious—except the person old to have faith had every reason to doubt. Jairus had come to Jesus when his daughter was deathly ill. Before they arrived, he received word that his child had died.
Jesus’ response to the news? “Just have faith.”
Minutes later Jesus raised the girl from the dead. But if I had been Jairus in that moment, I would have felt like screaming, “I had faith. I came to you.” You failed me.
Jesus encouraged Jairus to continue to trust God even in his bleakest moment. So also, I may be called on to trust in the face of massive impossibility and personal pain.
The next time fear comes knocking at the door, let’s remember these five principles so we can face those challenges with courage. God is on our side, and He’s always more powerful than what’s happening.