“Do not be afraid.” Such soothing words spoken by our Lord. Not only do they quickly serve to calm the heart, they demonstrate that God knows us. He knows we are weak. He knows we are prone to fear. He knows what we need to hear. There’s comfort in knowing that God understands.
“For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.”
No one is immune to fear. Worry and anxiety plague everyone without discrimination. In some instances, they can be crippling. Other times they may only be a swiftly passing thought. All too often they stay around and cause a persistent unease in the backs of our minds. Whatever the severity of the emotions, trusting the Lord can drive out the dark clouds and bring peace. We can find strength and courage to face big and small difficulties when we take him at his word. It’s sometimes easier said than done. I know. I’ve been there. Unfortunately, even though we know him and have received grace upon grace, we can still struggle with fear and loose site of trusting him.
This is not a reflection of our Lord. He is worthy of our trust, but we sometimes forget that when we’re faced with grievous circumstances. We can forget that he is trustworthy even when the matter is relatively small. It’s all too easy to get caught up in worry and to let our imaginations takeover. In all these moments we have some choices to make. Will we lean on him and not on ourselves? Will we trust him even when we can’t see the big picture and don’t believe what’s happening could possibly be what’s best? Will we continue to believe that what we’ve come to know about him from his word is true? Oftentimes, prayer and reading the Bible can help us get to a place where we can answer all those questions in the affirmative; and as a result, our fear fades.
I wish I never struggled with worry and anxiety. I wish becoming a Christian meant you no longer had any fears; but I have not found that to be the case, not with me or with any Christian I know. I need to always remember to start each day and face each challenge with a confession of my need for God’s help and to cling to him and the countless Bible passages that speak of his grace and mercy and power. There are a number of versus that I have found to be very helpful. Some I return to again and again. Others fall out of my mind for a season; and then when I find them again, it is like opening a favorite present on Christmas morning. They are oftentimes just what I needed and fill my heart with joy.
Comfort from the Scriptures
I am so thankful that we have a God that cares for us. (1 Peter 5:7) In his love, he has provided many words in the scriptures that can strengthen our resolve and give us peace. But they are not just words; they are encouragement and promises from the Almighty. It is because he is behind them that they have any power at all. Below are some of the verses that I have found to be a real blessing. I pray they are a blessing to you as well.
“When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You.” Psalms 56:3
As I wrote earlier, we all experience worry and anxiety. The people in the Bible were no different. I found the expression “Do not be afraid” said by God, an angel, or Jesus 24 times. In this verse David writes “when” I am afraid, I “will” put my trust in you. It appears that he is expecting to experience it again, almost as if it is inevitable. It seems inevitable in my life too. Past experience tells me that I am likely to be afraid again in the future. Knowing that David felt the same thing helps, and I have benefited by imitating him. He learned what to do in those moments, and he planned to do it. He would put his trust in God. David praises God in another psalm for saving him from his fears.
“I sought the LORD, and He answered me, And delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4
We can have that same confidence.
“Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16
One selection of verses that I go back to again and again when I’m afraid is in Proverbs 3. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has benefited by them.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body And refreshment to your bones.” Proverbs 3:5-8
How many times do I lean on my own understanding? Too many. I imagine that the way I see things going is how they’re going to happen. Unfortunately, I all too often see them going in a bad direction. That leads to worry and anxiety. When I stop and remember these verses and let go of my scenarios and trust God completely (instead of trusting him with only a part of my heart), I immediately feel better. I experience peace and a new confidence.
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD And whose trust is the LORD. “For he will be like a tree planted by the water, That extends its roots by a stream And will not fear when the heat comes; But its leaves will be green, And it will not be anxious in a year of drought Nor cease to yield fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8
My confidence comes from remembering that God is merciful and sovereign. I have found these two truths to be very effective in arresting my fears. I have a merciful, sovereign God. Meditating on that quickly puts things in perspective and gives me peace.
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” Romans 8:28-32
“Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’;” Isaiah 46:9-10
“In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,” Ephesians 1:10b-11
Another set of verses that I come back to is from Philippians. Again, I’m sure it is a selection that offers comfort to many Christians.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” Philippians 4:6-8
These verses have helped me to let go of whatever I was worrying about many times. The comprehensive “be anxious for nothing” covers, well, everything. And while it has been very helpful, I have felt that the bar was set unrealistically high. Being anxious “for nothing” is an incredible challenge. When I read those words I use to focus primarily on my responsibility in obeying them. It felt like an impossible task. But now I believe that those four words “be anxious for nothing” are not about me primarily; instead, they are about God. The nothing is all about him and his all-encompassing care for me. Because nothing is outside of his notice and control I can be calm. I know my responsibility remains, but there is far greater peace and confidence when I focus more on him and less on myself. And if this wasn’t great enough, we have further instruction on how to combat our fears. When we stop focusing on the negative and possibly imaginative things that are upsetting us and instead think about whatever is true and lovely and the other types of things mentioned, a lot of our worry and anxiety fade away.
I’m going to finish by including verses from my wedding. Matthew 6:25-34 was read during our ceremony.
“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? “And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? “And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ “For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:25-34
Through our marriage, we have revisited these verses so many times. Sometimes my husband reminded me of them, and sometimes I reminded him. I am very thankful that in God’s providence we chose them. They have been a source of great comfort and joy. I’m sure we will return to them again in the future.
All these verses and many others have been indispensable in my life as a Christian. I do still struggle with worry and anxiety sometimes and will for the rest of my life; but through the years and by the grace of God, I have learned to trust him more. Much of that learning happened in times of trouble. Trust really isn’t an issue when things are going well. I have found that he is present in times of great joy and deep sadness. Trials with my health have presented plenty of opportunities for my trust to grow. There have been moments when the consequences of the pain drove me to the end of my resolve. God did not leave me there. In him I found hope and sustaining strength countless times, and the promises and encouragement in his word revived and strengthened me. Along with this, I have seen answered prayers; and I have experienced many blessings. He provides what I need and what is good. He is the remedy for all my fears. I know I can trust him in this life and for the next.
Scripture taken from the NASB ©1995 by The Lockman Foundation