Fear is motivation to flee from danger. Ignoring this gift can lead to disaster. Unfortunately, many times this gift, which was given to us for our good, can overwhelm us and bring negative consequences. The New Testament Greek word Phobeo makes this clear since its primary meaning is “ to put to flight by terrifying.” When used as “the fear of God” it can also mean, “to reverence, venerate, to treat with deference or reverential obedience.” Fearing or trusting God drives worldly fear from our lives. Praising God in all of our circumstances, as an expression of our faith that He will turn everything for our good (Rom 8:28), can help us overcome our fears.
1. Worldly fear opposes faith and is the result of not fully trusting God.
Matthew 8:26 And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.
Mark 4:40 And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?
2. We should not be fearful of worldly things because we know and believe that God has our best interests in mind and that He will always meet all our needs.
Luke 12:32 Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
3. God has not sent us a spirit of bondage to fear, but a spirit of childlike trust. Bondage is the result of trusting ourselves instead of God. We should not rely on psychological defenses because although they keep others out, they many times prevent us from receiving the blessing that God has for us. Trusting God sets us free from fear without the use of psychological defense mechanisms.
Ro 8:15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
Hebrews 13:6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.
4. We should confront fear with the power of God, the love He has for us, and correct Biblical thinking. How we perceive a situation in our minds determines the emotions that we will experience. Emotions, including fear, are just “thermometers” of our perceptions about a specific situation. If we are afraid, it means we do not truly possess and trust God’s perfect love and concern for us. If we concentrate on God, we will perceive Him as more powerful and our fears will have to retreat.
2 Ti 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
1 Jo 4:18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
5. Sometimes fear must be overcome step-by-step. An example of this strategy was used to conquer Jericho, the city of fear. This method has been called systematic desensitization.
Jos 6:3 And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days. 4 And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams' horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets.
6. We get the victory over fear by declaring our faith that our God can be trusted and is greater than our circumstances.
Jos 6:5 And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him.
7. As we trust God, prayer and thanksgiving provide freedom from anxiety. Praising and worshiping God for His power helps us build our confidence in God and can help us overcome our fear in the day of trouble. We must believe that, even in these circumstances, God will work everything for our good.
Php 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jessus.
Psalms 59:16 But I will sing of thy power; yea, I will sing aloud of thy mercy in the morning: for thou hast been my defence and refuge in the day of my trouble.
Jericho is the fortress of fear. Consequently, it represents our struggles to overcome the insecurity in our lives. We can verify that the city of Jericho represents fear by the fact that each time the city is mentioned, the people were living in fear. Rahab said that the inhabitants were in fear of the Israelites and that the gates were locked out of fear. (Joshua 2:9, 11, 6:1) The clients’ fears are the first formidable challenge. We are later told that all the tribes were represented at Jericho. All sorts of psychological problems make their homes in the client's life based on fear. Probably the best known are fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of shame, and fear of punishment. (McGee, 1990) Phobias, anxiety attacks, some panic attacks, obsessive-compulsiveness, codependency, domestic violence, and most other psychological disorders have their roots in fear.
The basis of overcoming simple fear by faith is outlined in this event:
1. The first step in overcoming fear is to confront it. In preparing to take Jericho, the Israelites marched around it for six days. They were not to speak at all. Negative self-talk and speaking about fear increases the power of fear. Marching around Jericho represents surveying the things that cause fear in our lives from a distance as we build our faith that we can conquer them. Six stands for man's sufficiency. Speaking about or relying on man's sufficiency is the basis of most fears. It takes faith in order to overcome fear. The client must get close enough to the thing that is feared; yet maintain his faith that, with God’s help, it will not harm him.
2. To overcome fear we must trust God to meet our needs. On the seventh day they encompassed the city seven times. Seven stands for God's complete provision. They had to get to the point where they trusted God's complete provision so much that they were willing to openly declare and act on their faith.
3. They were to confess their faith. They blew on the ram's horn. The ram stands for Christ, our perfect sacrifice. The ram's horn stands for preaching. Faith comes by hearing. They were then to shout, or declare their faith in unison. When they did this, the walls or defenses of fear (Jericho) fell down. When we no longer believe the feared thing can harm us, it is defenseless. Hebrews 11:30 declares that, "By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were compassed about seven days."
4. They had to physically occupy the territory of the fear. The battle was not over until they actually killed the enemy and burned the city. Until we actually do the thing that is feared, we do not yet have complete victory.
5. The credit for overcoming our fear must go to God. This was the first of ten cities and, as such, its wealth was the first tenth, or tithe. Joshua placed a curse on anyone who took anything from the city. If clients take credit for overcoming their fear, their fear will eventually return. This is because the clients are again relying on themselves. Self-reliance is the root problem underlying fear.
6. The city of fear must never be rebuilt. Joshua cursed anyone who would rebuild this city. The curse was that the children of those who rebuilt the city would die. (Joshua 6:26) Clients bring a curse on their posterity if they rebuild fear in their lives, since fear is transmitted from generation to generation. Unfortunately, this often happens because old patterns of thinking can easily return. (It is interesting to note that the first and last child of Hiel the Bethelite, the man who rebuilt Jericho, died (1 Kings 16:34).
7. Only those with faith will not be destroyed by fear. Rahab, alone, was not destroyed with the people of Jericho. She believed that the Israelites would take Jericho. We need to believe that with God's help we can defeat all fear in our lives. (Hebrews 11:31 lists Rahab as one of the heroes of faith.)
If we take a close look at these events, we find the basis for a method for confronting fears that has been called systematic desensitization. It is possibly the most effective method of behavior modification for dealing with fear. First, the client is taught how to relax. Relaxation helps to alleviate fear. Because most persons cannot be relaxed and afraid at the same time, tension can also be used as an indicator of fear. Usually, clients are progressively exposed to fearful scenes in their minds in a hierarchical order (as they are able to remain relaxed and to overcome each fearful scene.) In this way, the client is slowly conditioned to be able to tolerate the feared stimulus. Finally, each of these situations are experienced in the same order in real life until clients can face even the most fearful situation that they can imagine. (Comer, 1995) When we examine the process of systematic desensitization, we find that it is no more than slowly developing faith that the feared situation can be overcome.
Secular systematic desensitization can only go so far. It helps people with irrational fears, as they perceive them. With faith in God, all worldly fears can be overcome; because we trust in His protection. My experience is that helping clients build a realistic faith in God, in combination with systematic desensitization, produces outstanding results in overcoming all fears and anxieties.
In dealing with generalized anxiety or anxiety attacks, faith in God is essential. The lies that clients believe need to be disputed and replaced with the truth. They do not live in a world which is dangerous and where everything goes wrong, but in a world where God works everything for their good (Rom 8:28) The confrontation of specific fears must be planned and carried out. The longer clients avoid their fears, the greater they grows.
If clients are experiencing panic attacks, both a renewed faith in God and dealing with the specific lies they believe is required. In most cases, a panic attack is triggered by some fear. The fear causes a physical response such as an increased heart rate. Clients focus on the physical symptoms and convince themselves that something is seriously wrong. This causes increased fear which in turn increases the physical symptoms until clients are convinced they have a very serious condition. At this point, many clients hyperventilate which causes them to feel faint. The cycle continues until they are convinced they are going to choke, faint, or die. Many persons subject to panic attacks are very suggestible and have irrational beliefs that trigger the attacks. Some of the lies they believe are that if their heart beats too fast they will have a heart attack, if they eat something they will choke, or because they are committing a particular sin they are going to go to hell. Helping them to quit hyperventilating, relax, and confront these lies with the truth usually brings rapid results.
Obsessive-compulsiveness is an attempt to feel in control when clients are actually feels powerless. By concentrating on the problem or worrying and obsessing about it, clients do initially feel more in control. However, the more they obsesses about the problem the more serious it seems and, therefore, the more they need to concentrate on it to feel in control. Compulsiveness is an associated strategy in which clients concentrate on a particular repetitive action that they can control, in order to feel in control. Sometimes clients may have a fear that if they do not do a specific action something catastrophic is going to happen. The Bible directs that instead of worrying we are to trust God and pray. (Philipians 4:6) Compulsions must be confronted in the same way as other fears. When client do what he fear, and dire consequences do not result, they will gradually overcome their fears.
For detailed development of counseling plans for anxiety disorders, panic attacks, obsessons and compulsions see Chapter 14 of my book Principles for Life.
Fear confronts all of us. In Hinds Feet on High Places (1986) Hannah Hurnard suggests that we are all “fearlings.” Fear is the emotion of unbelief. It is the opposite of faith. Either we believe that God will protect us and take care of us, or we will be afraid. Fear mobilizes us to run from a perceived threat. Fear is an emotion and, therefore, is controlled by how we perceive the threats in our lives. The ultimate answer for fear is to face it with our faith in God.
1. In the book of Daniel, we find three Hebrew slaves facing the fear of their lives. Either Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego must renounce their faith in God by worshipping the golden statue of the king; or they must face being thrown into a furnace of fire. This story deals with the fear of the soul. In our lives, we each face the same quandary. Either we face the fears of our lives that, to us, seem like certain death, or we bow down to the self, become dominated by the flesh and admit that God is not able to save us. This story begins in the first chapter of Daniel.5. The self wishes to enslave us to do its bidding and make us be its servant though fear. The children of Israel were conquered by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar was the greatest of the Babylonian kings. His name means “Nebo is the protector from misfortune,” and he is a type of the self. Our self believes that it can be its own God and protect itself from misfortune. It tries to conquer and control us through fear. Babylon symbolizes confusion and antagonism against God. I, therefore, suggest that Babylon stands for our world. Jehoiakim means “he who Jehovah has set up.”
Da 1:1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it. 2 And the Lord gave Jehoiakim (He who Jehovah has set up) king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God: which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god.
2. The self wants to dominate what is good in us and conform us to its will. In life, we are all enslaved by our physical and psychological needs of the self. We feel fear that these needs will not be met, unless we protect our selves and meet our needs through the flesh. Our self wants us to learn the language or lies of the world to meet our needs through it, instead of God. It wants us to learn to speak the world’s language of pride. Ashpenaz means, “I will make prominent the sprinkled.” Later, he is called Melzar, which means, “the master of the wine.” He controlled what they ate and was responsible for their mental and physical development. Possibly, he stands for our desires that are concerned about meeting our physical and psychological needs. We must have the agreement of our desires in order to restrict what we eat and guide our future. Our desires usually focus on what they think is the best for our flesh.
Da 1:3 And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the king’s seed, and of the princes; 4 Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.
3. The self wants to feed us the lies of the world, because it wants to do things in its own way. The result is that by over-relying on ourselves, we are filled with fear instead of faith. Unfortunately, even most Christians are greatly influenced to believe the world’s message by what we are taught in school, what we read and what we see on television and in the movies. This provides the foundation for how we interpret our world and this provides the basis for our fears. Unfortunately, small children have no other reference point for interpreting their world than what they are taught and experience. We are supposed to eat of the flesh of the Word of Christ and drink of the wine of His Spirit, instead of the lies and doctrines of this world, or we will be consumed by the fears of this world.
Da 1:5 And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king’s meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king.
4. God has given us, through faith, all we need in life for our protection and to meet our needs. Jesus told his disciples over and over, “fear not.” Daniel means, “God is my judge or judge of God.” I suggest that this stands for our conscience or spirit. God wants us to let Him be the judge of all things. Hananiah means, “Jehovah is gracious, God has favored, or given.” As a Christians, we know that God favors us even when we are without merit, or if we fail. If we truly believe this, it provides an emotional foundation for fighting our fears. Mishael means, “who is like God.” It is our will that determines if we will be conformed to be like God, or if we will become our own God. Azariah means, “Jehovah has helped.” We can count on God to meet all of our needs according to His riches in glory (Philipians 4:19). We must remember all that God has done for us when fear tries to overcome us.
Da 1:6 Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah:
6. The self wishes to change our character (name) and make us see ourselves as self-reliant and, yet, a slave to this world. The eunuch (desires) changed the names of the Hebrew children. Our desires cannot be fruitful in themselves, but must work through our soul to make us what we are. We will act according to how we see ourselves. Daniel was renamed Belteshazzar which means, “protect his life” or “the God Bel protects the king.” Our self wants our spirit to focus on self-protection instead of what God wants us to do. Hananiah was renamed Shadrack which means, “a royal scribe.” Our self wants our emotions simply to reflect whatever it wants and desires in the world. Mishael was renamed Meshach which means, “a guest of a king or a shadow of a prince.” The self wants our mind to see ourselves as his guest on this earth and become like the world, full of pride. Azariah was renamed Abednego which means, “a servant of nebo or Ishtar,” which was the goddess of love and fertility. The self wants our will to follow whatever feels good and brings it pleasure. Consequently, these three names approximate the desires for the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. They represent an attempt to meet the basic needs of the self for worth and significance, security, and love. The self wants us to accept our slave names. He wants us to believe that if we will simply rely on our self and do things as the world does, our needs will be met. It wants us to be secure in our own accomplishments, and suggests that if we will worship the God of pleasure, everything will be wonderful. Conformity to the world can be and is a strong temptation for all of us.
Da 1:7 Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names: for he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abednego.
7. We must not eat from the world’s table, or we will not accomplish what God wants for our lives. It is fear that “we will lose our head” i.e. not get our needs met, that tries to keep us from avoiding the world’s “food.”
Da 1:8 But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. 9 Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs. 10 And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel, I fear my lord the king, who hath appointed your meat and your drink: for why should he see your faces worse liking than the children which are of your sort? then shall ye make me endanger my head to the king.
8. The first step in overcoming fear is to face our fears, obey God and test what happens. We must act on our faith. Ten stands for human infirmity and failure. We are afraid we might fail if we do things God’s way. But if we will face our fear, we will find that God’s ways work best.
Da 1:11 Then said Daniel to Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, 12 Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink. 13 Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king’s meat: and as thou seest, deal with thy servants. 14 So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days.
9. Experience is the strongest evidence for our faith. When the world attempts to make us worship it, we must be ready to face our fiery trials with faith. The things of God are ten times better than anything that the world has to offer us, especially when we receive God’s wisdom and understanding. Melzer means, “master of the wine,” which possibly represents our soul. Even the flesh and the self have to admit that the things that God gives us result in a better life.
Da 1:15 And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat. 16 Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse. 17 As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. 18 Now at the end of the days that the king had said he should bring them in, then the prince of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. 19 And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: therefore stood they before the king. 20 And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king enquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.
10. The self wants to be worshipped and will set itself up to be worshipped as god, if it gets the chance. Dura means, “dwelling,” and the number six stands for man’s sufficiency. Gold stands for deity. Our self will submit to no one and wants our mind, emotions and will to come into conformity with its wishes. The fact that the image was huge suggests that this is a significant temptation for all of us. We all are tempted to want to be our own God and to worship ourselves. Possibly, Daniel (our spirit) is not in this story, since our spirit cannot be coerced by fear. The self loves to make itself seem important.
Da 3:1 Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits: he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. 3 Then the princes, the governors, and captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, were gathered together unto the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
11. The self threatens that if we refuse to worship and rely totally on it, our needs will not be met and we will be consumed by the fire of our fears. It is the fear that our needs will not be met that motivates us to worship the self.
Da 3:5 That at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up: 6 And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. 7 Therefore at that time, when all the people heard the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and all kinds of musick, all the people, the nations, and the languages, fell down and worshipped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.
12. Others, especially those of the world, will say to us (our self) that we are not doing enough to meet our needs (or worship the self). They will suggest that we are missing out on life by not fully pursuing our desires and making something out of ourselves.
Da 3:8 Wherefore at that time certain Chaldeans came near, and accused the Jews. 10 Thou, O king, hast made a decree, that every man that shall hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, shall fall down and worship the golden image: 12 There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; these men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.
13. The self rages against us by saying that we are not trying hard enough to focus on its needs and demanding that we increase our efforts to meet its lusts. It wants to give us another chance to conform to this world, or it threatens to destroy our soul with fear.
Da 3:13 Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Then they brought these men before the king. 15 Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?
14. The only answer to overcoming the self is to face the fear with faith that our needs may go unmet. Our mind, emotions and will must declare that even if we are consumed by fear and God does not meet our needs, we still will not worship the self. Self, of course, will be extremely unhappy, because the only thing it has to hold onto the throne of our life with is fear. Seven stands for completeness and fear can be completely overwhelming at times. This is especially true of panic attacks and phobias. Fear is so powerful, we are sure we will be destroyed by it.
Da 3:16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. 17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. 19 Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated.
15. Fear binds us so that we feel helpless and powerless over our circumstances. However, it will be our circumstances and fear, itself, that will be consumed in the fire. The very basis of fear is our reliance on ourselves, knowing that we are limited and incapable of directing and doing everything necessary to always protect ourselves and meet all our needs. The soldiers who attempted to throw them into the fire (use fear to control them) were themselves consumed by it. People who try to force others to meet their needs (abusers) through fear will eventually be consumed by the fear when others resist their advances.
Da 3:20 And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. 21 Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. 22 Therefore because the king’s commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
16. Even if we do not do everything perfectly (fall down), if we face our fears, God will personally meet us in our fears and lift us up. Our self will be amazed, when we trust God and face our fears, because we are delivered from our fears.
Da 3:23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. 24 Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. 25 He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.
17. When we act on our faith to face our fears, we will not be harmed in any way. Their hair (faith) was not hurt, their clothing (character) was not burned, and they did not even have the smell of smoke (emotional consequences) on them.
Da 3:26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth of the midst of the fire. 27 And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.
18. When we have successfully faced our fears with faith, even our self will give God the glory and agree that we should not worship ourselves rather than God. Even the king’s words—the threats that caused the fear—were negated and turned to nothing. When faced with faith, panic attacks, phobias and anxiety simply cannot overcome us.
Da 3:28 Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God.
19. People who speak against faith and run from their fears or rely on themselves will end up cut into emotional pieces, and their lives become a pile of refuse. In this story, self (Nebuchadnezzar) finally realized the power of faith, and made a declaration that speaking against faith (which diminishes it) is a crime, which leads to death and destruction in their lives.
Da 3:29 Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.
20. Facing our fears in faith leads to a better life and promotion in this world.
Da 3:30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, in the province of Babylon.
1. Fear is an emotion of insecurity that occurs when our security is threatened or when we are not sure that our basic needs will be met. It is energy to avoid whatever threatens us.
2. Satan uses fear to keep us in bondage and prevent us from fulfilling what God has called us to do. He does this by getting us to rely on ourselves and make ourselves our own god instead of trusting God to meet our needs.
3. Our fear is based on our perception of our world and ourselves. Satan attempts to get us to believe what the world says, have our emotions reflect our worldly circumstances, and convince us that we must be conformed to this world in order to get our needs met.
4. Because we are so limited in what we can do, we can never guarantee our own safety in this world or fully meet our needs. Our attempts to become self-reliant result in even more fear. Those that set themselves up as their own god and rely on themselves fall into the trap of fear.
5. The first step in overcoming fear is to not obey or rely on ourselves and to have faith in God, no matter how difficult or threatening the circumstances might be.
6. We must not bow down to the self, but face our fear, trusting in God. If we rely on ourselves, we are doomed to a life of insecurity without God. If we run from our fear, our problem seems more threatening and our fear will grow.
7. If we face our fears, trusting in faith that God will protect us and meet all our needs, He will be there for us, go through our fears with us, and help us conquer the insecurity in our lives. Every time we overcome fear our faith grows. He has promised that we will never be tempted beyond that which we are able and will always have a way of escape. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
1. Confronting fear is always the best policy. When we run from our fears, they seem to get stronger. This is because we have just added the agreement of our will and actions to the thoughts that created the emotions of fear. If instead, we confront our fears, we take a stand in our will, mind, and actions that we will not allow them to rule over us.
2. We can overcome difficult fears one step at a time. In secular counseling, this process is called systematic desensitization. In the Bible, we are taught this method in the conquering of the city of Jericho. (Joshua 6) The Children of Israel silently marched around the city of Jericho for six days in order to strengthened their faith that they could conquer the city. They then declared their faith with a victory shout, and the walls of fear came tumbling down. This method suggests slowly confronting our fears one step at a time as we grow in confidence that the next step can be overcome. As we progress step-by-step, we can eventually face our greatest fear. Sometimes, this is done as a mental process before it is acted out in the physical world. A common example of this method in most of our lives was learning to dive off the high diving board. First, we overcome our fear of water by learning to swim. Then we learned to jump off the side of the pool. Later, we dove off of a low diving board until we had enough confidence to jump off the high board.
3. Fear can be overcome by focusing on God instead of our problems. This method is taught in the story of the exodus from Egypt, when God instructed Moses to make a bronze snake on a pole. If an Israelite, who had been bitten by a deadly snake, looked at the snake on the pole; they were healed. (Num 21:8) The snake on the pole represented Jesus taking our sin upon Himself. When we focus on God, our problems seem to get smaller. When we focus on our problems, they and our fears increase.
4. Experiencing the love of God casts out all fear. One answer for dealing with fear is to develop a close personal relationship with God. When, in our intimate relationship with God, we realize that He really loves and cares for us and that He will protect us, we are not so afraid of what will happen to us.
5. We can overcome anxiety by praising God in all situations. When we do this, we are acting on our faith that even in the current negative circumstances; God will work everything for our good. (Romans 8:28) Our praise is an outward expression of our faith, and it helps us focus on the greatness of God. Praising God, as an expression of faith, breaks the power of fear and anxiety and will help us face our circumstances positively. It is declaring the truth of Romans 8:18, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
6. Anxiety disorders are generalized fears. The source of these fears must be discovered in order to deal with them effectively. The core issue is a perception that life is threatening in some aspect. If a person has been anxious all of their life, the precipitating problem possibly comes from childhood experiences or learned perceptions about life. If the anxiety began at a particular point in the client’s life, a particular event can usually be identified that significantly influenced how the client now views his life. In order to alleviate the anxiety, the way the client views his situation must be changed from fear to faith in God to protect him. The client must trust God in order to face his fear.
7. Panic attacks result from a cycle of fear. Panic attacks are short-lived periods of panic where the client feels he is having a heart attack or some other medical problem which could result in death. Because the client focuses on his bodily responses, he becomes more and more fearful and actually precipitates the panic. As an example, some incident from the past or present triggers a fearful response in the client. He notices that his heart is pounding more rapidly than usual (a physical response to fear). Because he is afraid that something must be wrong, he becomes more fearful so his heart pounds even more rapidly. This makes him even more afraid, so he starts hyperventilating. This makes him dizzy and he fears he may pass out. This confirms to him that something is very seriously wrong; and, maybe, he will die. This cycle continues until the client is certain that he is dying. At this point an ambulance is usually called. However, in most cases the panic subsides in about ten minutes. Unfortunately, many times this experience is so traumatic that the client now fears having another attack and may begin avoiding driving or going out in public. If the client does not face his fear, it can lead to agoraphobia. Treatment includes educating the client about panic attacks, using relaxation and controlled breathing to alleviate the symptoms, developing plans to minimize the impact on the client’s life, and identifying and dealing with the underlying fear issue. From a faith standpoint, the client must trust that God will protect him in all circumstances, work everything for his good, and that even death itself is not a serious enough event to justify out-of-control panic. Faith that everything is in God’s hands can help to calm the client in any circumstance.
8. Phobias are excessive irrational fears. Phobias are irrational fears that make a person extremely afraid of certain objects or situations. Over one hundred different phobias have been identified. Systematic desensitization has been shown to be about ninety percent effective in overcoming all phobias. It is simply a behavior modification plan for facing the fear a little at a time. One can not be relaxed and afraid at the same time. Using a hierarchy ranked from events that would make the client mildly fearful to the most fearful event imaginable, the client attempts to stay relaxed as he faces one fear after another. When he is able to remain relaxed when facing one fearful event, he moves on to face a more threatening event, first in his mind and later in real life. Eventually, he will be able to face the most fearful stimulus. Adding faith in God and possibly even picturing Jesus walking with the client though the situation, can be an effective addition to this method. The Bible states that we are to cast all of our cares upon God. (1Pet 5:7)
9. A series of fearful reactions caused by past experiences of extreme trauma is called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The person may have flash backs, fearful reactions, and continue to be traumatized by the events even years after they have occurred. The experience dramatically affects how the person thinks and feels about life. Faith must be applied to these past experiences so that they may be healed and so that they will no longer affect the current life of the client. Theophostic Ministry (Smith, 1996) is usually the most effective intervention because it is the emotions that accompany the past experiences themselves that must be modified.
10. Obsessions are an attempt to feel in control. A milder form of obsession is worry. Both of these are an attempt to feel in control of a situation by focusing our thoughts on the situation. Unfortunately, when we think about our problems they usually become more significant in our minds. When we perceive them as larger, we have even more to worry or obsess about. Consequently, our problems grow. The answer is to focus more on the solution to our problems and on our faith in God.
11. Compulsions are an attempt to compensate for obsessions that feel out of control. Compulsions are an attempt to make ourselves feel that we are in control when we are actually feeling out of control and insecure, by trying to over-control some other aspect of our lives. As an example, we might feel compelled to check that the front door is locked numerous times before we can feel secure in the house. In this case we may be trying to compensate for an obsessive fear that we might be fired at work. Howard Hughes attempted to compensate for fears of failure by washing his hands and trying to protect himself from germs. (Barlett and Steele, 1997) Identifying and developing faith for our true fears and insecurity can greatly help us to overcome these types of compulsions.