October...the month of cool evenings, crisp leaves, pumpkin-everything, and harvest celebrations!
It is also the month of Halloween. Neighborhood yards, homes, and businesses are transformed into frightfully “festive” scenes of ghoulish gatherings and scary creatures. Events such as haunted houses, fright nights, and costume parties fill the calendar.
For Christians, this season of “festive fear” can sometimes feel like a “celebration” of spiritual darkness. The purpose of this post is not to debate Halloween, but rather to consider fear, and how it creeps into our life, and how to dispel fear from a point of faith. Opportunities abound during this season to be a light in this dark world, but truthfully, every day of the year brings opportunities to shine the light of faith into a world that fears evil, death, and judgment.
Drive through any local neighborhood this month, and you will see yards decorated with scary objects and decor intended to invoke fear. As you drive by, do you get frightened? Probably not. Why not?
As adults, when we see spooky Halloween decorations, it does not invoke fear in us because we have a belief and an understanding that it cannot harm us. Our life experience gives us the advantage of knowing with confidence that we will not be chased by the ghouls and goblins set up in our neighbor’s yard.
But have you ever had children who were frightened by the scary scenes in the neighborhood? Young children do not yet have the knowledge and experience to know that those dreadful creatures cannot harm them. As parents and caregivers, we comfort them, and tell them, “It’s ok, don’t be afraid. Those things cannot harm you.”
Isn’t that just like what our Heavenly Father does for us? He has the knowledge and the history and the confidence to tell us in His word, “Be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
However, not all fear-invoking circumstances are fake, or merely Halloween decorations. Some are very real. We may fear that tragedy will befall someone we love. We may fear an illness such as cancer or Covid. We may fear job loss, marriage issues, or financial instability. We may fear being alone, or we might fear the future as it relates to world events. We may fear what others think about us. We may fear being wrong. We might experience social or performance anxiety. These fears are valid, but we do not have to let fear reign in our daily life. It has been said that the words, “Fear not”are mentioned 365 times in the Bible...that is one for every day of the year. God continually reminds us in the Bible that we need not fear anything when our hope and our confidence is in Him.
Do you struggle with fear? Our world can be a fearful place when we take our eyes off of Christ, and put them on circumstances and forces beyond our control. We become like children driving past “that scary house” in the neighborhood in October.
In the Bible, God never says that we will not have reasons to be afraid, but in the midst of those times, He encourages us to look to Him, and to trust that He is in control, and that we need not fear. Think about Paul when he was in prison, and wrote the book of Philippians. This book is full of joy and confidence in the Lord! Paul was genuinely in the midst of circumstances that were scary! He was nearing the end of his life. He would, in fact, soon be killed - a martyr for his faith in Christ - yet he penned words like “Rejoice in the Lord always” and “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” Was Paul fretting in fear? It appears that he was at peace in his situation, and trusting God, regardless of the outcome. He was not naive to the dire reality of his circumstances. He wasn’t hiding his head in the sand and pretending that all is well. His hope, his home, and his trust was in Something and Someone far greater than his earthly surroundings. He was surrounded by evil and godless authorities who actively sought his destruction. Yet, Paul kept his focus on God, and found a way to rejoice in the Lord in these dire circumstances.
“Rejoice in the Lord always,
and again, I say,
In the very well-known chapter of Psalm 23, David speaks of the Lord preparing a table for him in the presence of his enemies. Have you ever been asked to sit and eat a meal around a table with people who hated you and wanted to kill you? As much as I love food, I doubt I would be able to eat very much, if I was given a meal in the presence of my enemies! But in this Psalm, David reminds us that God is with us in these kinds of situations. We are not alone in fearful circumstances. We are not alone when we feel like everyone around us is against us for one reason or another. In verse 4 of this same Psalm, David expresses his confidence in God when he says, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.” Here, David IS walking through a scary place...yet he does not fear...for God is with him. Having God with you makes ALL the difference in fear-management.
Scary situations are going to come our way, but we do not need to give in to fear. When we sense fear rising up inside of us, hand it to God and trade those unsettling feelings for His comfort instead. Paul, who certainly had his share of fearful moments, reminds us not to worry or be anxious - but rather, talk to God in prayer, and adorn your requests to God in thanksgiving. When this is our response to fear and anxiety, God promises to bring peace and comfort to guard our heart and mind. This is made possible because of Jesus Christ - and because of the way He overcame evil and death by His resurrection.
There most definitely IS evil in this world, but rest assured, friend, God is far more powerful than any evil surrounding us. There is a very real divide between the forces of good and evil in our world. This is not anything new. It has been this way since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden...and if you’ve read the Bible, then you know that God is still in control of this world, and His mercy is still being extended to mankind, despite the seemingly prolific flourishing and flaunting of evil in our present time. God has already won the victory over evil and death through the resurrection of Jesus!
When you find yourself distracted by fear and anxiety, turn to the Bible and seek God’s peace and comfort. Just as we can calm the heart of a child when they are frightened by spooky, scary scenes, God can calm our heart in any situation, real or imagined. It is not wrong to experience fear. Fear is a very real emotion. The key, though, is what do you do with your fear? Do you suppress it? Do you attempt to drown it out with distraction, or by a substance other than God? Do you attempt to manage your fear by avoiding any and all circumstances where fear might be present? Do you try to control every situation and attempt to keep fear at bay in your own way? Or do you gather up your fear and hand it over to God? He is big enough and strong enough to graciously handle as much fear as we can hand over to Him. He is not weary, nor void of understanding. We can go to Him again and again and again. Picture Him saying to you, “Here, let Me take that for you. Let Me carry that for you.” His ears are open to our cry, and His arms are strong enough to carry our burdens, our cares, and our fears.
Shared below are some Bible verses to help remind you that God is with you, so you need not fear. We dispel darkness with light. When evil and darkness creep into your view, shine the light of God’s truth on your path, and walk on in confidence and trust in God.
God’s love is perfect, and that is why it is the only true source capable of casting out our fear.
Psalm 27:1 The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
Isaiah 41:13 For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, Fear not, I am the one who helps you.
Psalm 46:1,2 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains tumble into the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble.
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. You believe in God, believe also in Me.
Deuteronomy 3:22 You shall not fear them, for it is the Lord who fights for you.
Psalm 27:1 Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet will I be confident.
Isaiah 35:4 Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.’”
Isaiah 41:10 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 43:1 Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.
Lamentations 3:57 You came near when I called on you; you said, “Do not fear.”
Joel 2:21 Fear not, O land, be glad and rejoice, for the Lord has done great things!
Matthew 10:31 Fear not, therefore; ye are of more value than many sparrows.
2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
Hebrews 13:6 So that we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”
Joshua 1:9 Have not I commanded you? Be strong, and very courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
These are just a few scriptures to dispel fear. Simply do a google search on Bible verses about fear for more. There are hundreds...and certainly enough to have one for every day!