Note: this post is written by a missionary appointee friend of mine.
When God places a challenging situation in front of us, the Bible tells us to have faith. However, our natural inclination is to be afraid. How do we reconcile how we are supposed to feel with how we actually feel?
In the Church today we handle fear in one of two ways: either we completely ignore it and pretend that it does not exist, contently living our lives as far away from potentially fearful situations as possible, or we condemn those who fear as having too little faith.
We quote verses such as 2 Timothy 1:7, “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control,” [ESV] to demonstrate that it is unbiblical to fear. This is a thin line to toe. Yes, the Bible tells us not to fear because God is greater than our greatest fears. But fear is a legitimate human emotion, something we will never rid ourselves of completely, as long as we live in our human bodies. Fear is real and, therefore, somehow must be reconciled with our call to have faith.
Next year I will lead my wife and my currently 6 month old son to the Middle East (one of the most fear inducing regions of the world) for the purpose of sharing the hope and the message of Jesus Christ. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is exactly what God has called my family to do. Yet I will be the first to admit I am afraid.
Who wouldn’t be? As a husband and a father I have a responsibility to look out for the well-being of my family. Daily I am counting the cost of what it means to make this move. Deep inside I know that there is no physical cost that should be too great to keep us from answering the call of God on our lives. Yet I can’t shake the feeling of fear.
God created us with the ability to fear. It protects us from unknowingly entering into life-threatening situations. It is a natural defense mechanism. It is healthy to fear, however, it is unhealthy to let fear debilitate us and prevent us from doing what God has called us to do.
The purpose of fear is to drive us to deeper faith.
If the situation in front of us was not dangerous or scary, what faith would it require to accomplish it? So when God calls, we go. But that does not erase the fear.
The fear remains and we have a decision to make: embrace it or run from it.
Running from fear causes us to continue to try to accomplish things on our own. Embracing our fear causes us to release ourselves to God and engage with him in a deeper reliance than ever before. God is teaching me on a daily basis to embrace my fear and allow it to draw me into a deeper faith in Him. I pray that He does the same for you and the fears in your life.