Fear has a long history. For the earliest humans, it was central for survival. That was fear’s original purpose, to keep the earliest humans alive. Back then, everyone was vulnerable to attack from animals and other tribes. And very quickly, they realized there were two kinds of mistakes: thinking a bear close by when it wasn’t, or not thinking a bear close by when it was. The former might cost you some anxiety. The latter would cost you your life. Umm, I’ll take what’s behind door number one, please.“We evolved,” as Richard Swenson says, “to make the first mistake a thousand times before making the second mistake even once.”
We learned, in other words, that anxiety was better than death. And that mindset still exists today.
We often anticipate or exaggerate fear to avoid getting burned. Threats of terrorism make us skeptical of every Muslim. We have insurance for everything, just in case the economy collapses or an alien destroys our house. The government is corrupt. Leaders can’t be trusted. Fear is around corner, it seems.
I would argue, however, fear is not the problem. Our threats, more often than not, aren’t real. Our problem is anxiety, an uneasiness or nagging sense that something bad might happen. And at the root of anxiety is uncertainty.
If you follow Jesus, this is particularly alarming. Christians have an answer to uncertainty. We have the Answer, God. We can’t control the future. We have very little control, in general. But that’s okay. It should be, at least. We know the One who controls everything. And when we believe the world to be a fearful place full of bad people, when we turn to the next President or the next paycheck for certainty, we place our trust in something or someone other than God.
God is the only answer to anxiety, I believe. Sure, you can turn to other outlets, thousands of them, but they won’t give you peace. Maybe false security or temporary relief, but nothing that lasts.
God knows we’re prone to grasp for certainty in all the wrong places, and that could be why he litters the Bible with reminders not to fear or be anxious. These 15 verses remind us God is in control, that fear has no power over us. I pray you will meditate on these words. They are true and powerful and inspired by the Holy Spirit.
1. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6–7)
2. I sought the Lord and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. (Psalm 34:4)
3. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)
4. “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (Matthew 6:31–34)
5. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (1 John 4:18)
6. When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. (Psalm 56:3)
7. God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)
8. The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? The Lord is with me; he is my helper. (Psalm 118:6–7)
9. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last.” (Revelation 1:17)
10. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul. (Psalm 94:19)
11. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:27)
12. Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” (Mark 5:36)
13. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:6–7)
14. Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)
15. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)
May these words fill you with peace. May you live as a beacon of love, breaking down walls and building bridges. And may you be filled with hope, resting in the certainty of God’s presence and goodness.
Grace and peace, friends.