When You Feel Afraid…

This post is part of my series for Write 31 Days (writing on a prompt every day during the month of October). I may not be posting on the blog every day, but you can find an index page where all the posts in the series will be added here. The prompt today is “afraid.”

It’s the most repeated command in the Bible, and it’s probably the one I most frequently break:

“Do not be afraid.”

I have spent most of my life feeling afraid, and I used to hear those words with a tone of condemnation. That was how I felt others looked on my fears – as irrational and stupid.

But when you look at actual examples of these words in the Bible, the tone seems very different – much more gentle and loving. What’s more, God doesn’t just order people not to be afraid. He gives them good reasons why they don’t need to fear.

Do not be afraid, Abram, for I will protect you, and your reward will be great.” (Genesis 15:1 NLT)

“Do not be afraid, for I am with you and will bless you. (Genesis 26:24 NLT)

Do not be afraid of him, for I have given you victory.” (Deuteronomy 3:2 NLT)

“Do not be afraid. The Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, is with you!” (Deuteronomy 20:1 NLT)

“Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9 NLT)

“Don’t be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.”  (1 Chronicles 28:20 NLT)

Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.” (2 Chronicles 20:15 NLT)

Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine.” (Isaiah 43:1 NLT)

Those are just a few examples, and the fact that this message is repeated so often reassures me that I’m not alone in needing to hear it over and over again.

It also points to a helpful way to deal with the fear. Instead of trying to stop the feelings of fear (which is a strategy doomed to fail) we can turn our focus to the truths about God. When we remember that he is with us, that we are his, and that he won’t forsake us, it might not make the fear go entirely, but it will stop it from paralysing us and help us find the courage to keep moving forward.

We can’t always control our feelings, but we can choose how to respond to them, and I think the title of Susan Jeffers’ book sums it up well (I haven’t read the book, but it’s one of those books with a title so brilliant you feel like you don’t need to!):

“Feel the fear, and do it anyway.”

I think that could also be described as faith.

(And since my musical brain has been triggered, I thought I’d share the joy!)

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