I love this saying, but fear has always reared its ugly head in my life, sometimes small things, sometimes big. 2 Tim 1:7 “God did not give me a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind” has been my favorite scripture since the purchase of my first Bible almost 20 years ago. God is a god of peace and love. We know from scripture that fear is not of God….1 John 4:18 “Perfect love casts out fear…. and whoever fears has not been perfected in love”. But I don’t feel like this is the kind of fear this saying refers too. I’d like to try break it down, how it applies, and how we walk it out in our lives. We all face fears, we all process them differently, we all walk and work through our fears differently, and if you haven’t faced a faith shaking fear yet, you most likely will at some point. “In this life, there will be trouble!” We can be assured of that.
First, let’s define faith and fear.
Faith, in Hebrews 11:1 says, Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see, and is defined as complete trust or confidence in someone or something.
Assurance about what we do not see. What will happen if I do, or don’t do, x, y or z (drive on this road, go to Africa, leave my husband, children and Gram for two weeks, quit my job, adopt these kids…)? Will my child(ren) be ok? Will we be safe? How will God work this out for good? Our vision, unlike God’s, is limited to what’s right before us and experiences behind us. To some degree, every day is a crap shoot, a "leap of faith"…we have no idea what the day will hold, if we will survive it, or if our loved ones will. On our own, this is scary, but with faith…confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see…we have the courage to step out each day, loins girded with His truth, and face what comes, good, bad or ugly.
But what about fear?
Fear is defined as a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain… whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.
A distressing emotion aroused by danger either real or perceived. The words “distressing emotion” put such a vivid picture in my mind, so I looked up distress. Distress is defined as extreme anxiety, sorrow or pain, acute physical or mental suffering, agony, misery, affliction, and trouble.
“Let your faith be bigger than your fear.” It’s a nice saying that sounds right, sounds Christian, sounds like a bunch of missionaries high fiving as we take the good news of Jesus out of our comfort zone to the far reaches!
But how does it apply and how do we walk it out.
I feel like to really get a grasp on how this applies, first you must be super honest about your fears. Maybe you have things in your life that have terrified you, broke your spirit through sadness or anxiety, or brought an anger you didn't know you were capable of... take just a minute and think deep about the thing(s) in your life that has caused you the greatest amount of fear. The thing that has aroused that distressing emotion, anxiety, sorrow, suffering, misery. The thing that made it hard to walk, to breathe, to eat, maybe to even get out of bed, either for a moment, a day, or months…. Focus for a moment on that time of fear, remember how it felt in the pit of your stomach.
In that moment, was your faith bigger than your fear? Mine wasn’t. I’d be willing to bet for many of us, our fears grip us, maybe even immobilize us for a time. Maybe it took a few minutes, or hours. Maybe it took months like it did for me, or maybe you are still struggling daily to get past that fear, anxiety or sorrow.
But here’s what I think. I think, if you are on your feet, if you are showing up for your life. If you still claim the message of Jesus as the one foundational truth of your life, even after the hurt that you struggle to comprehend, then your faith is bigger than your fear. You know that what Satan intended to destroy, God will use for good, even if we don’t actually ever get to see that played out. You know that God has a plan for your life, to prosper and not to harm you. You know that God hears you when you cry out, that His love holds us and comforts us, that His word is a light to our path, and that He is our strength. Faith is what gets us through that fear, yet, not on our own, as Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith- and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast”.
All of this is not to say that, even after the fact, fear won’t creep in, that some mornings you won’t cry, or momentarily find it hard to breathe, or that you will even face more terrifying situations. John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” We have faith in God, because of Him, not because of ourselves. We choose faith over fear in our lives because (1 John 4:18) “there is no fear in love”. So, yes, Let your faith be bigger than your fear! It’s a great saying, a perfect slogan, but it’s more than a great saying. It’s how we face these moments of fear. It’s how we move forward, “pressing on toward the goal for the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).