Lessons to Learn

The Key to the Problem of Fear that Brings Torment

I still remember the day several years ago when my husband asked me about my greatest fear. I spoke, and the words seemed to hang in the air like a talk bubble in a comic strip. But neither of us was laughing, especially not me. See, the enemy had heard those words too. He grabbed them greedily and tucked them away for future use. And he HAS used them many times to cause me pain and confusion despite my faith. In fact, this week, he got me yet again. But this time, when I finally calmed down enough to hear what God was saying to me, it was like finding the perfect key to fit the lock. It was the solution to the fear that brings torment. 

Fear, Fear Not: 2 Kinds of Fear

Most Christians know that there are two kinds of fear, and the Bible is very specific about when to “fear” and when to “fear not.” 

The Fear of the Lord: The Good Kind

In the first place, there is the fear of the Lord. This is the good kind of fear that is like a profound reverence and awe of God and His standing as holy and righteous. It’s the kind of fear that makes us desire to please Him and dread to disappoint. According to the Bible, the fear of the Lord helps us depart from evil (Job 28:28) and is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10 & Proverbs 9:10) and knowledge (Proverbs 1:7). It also prolongs life (Proverbs 10:27), helps us avoid snares (Proverbs 14:27), allows us to sleep satisfied (Proverbs 19:23), is our treasure (Isaiah 33:6), brings us blessing (Psalm 128:1,4), endures forever (Psalm 19:9), and is our confidence (Proverbs 14:26 & Job 4:6).

The Fear of Everything Else: The Bad Kind

Then there is the fear of everything else. It’s the kind that brings torment or mental suffering, and it’s often deeply rooted in “what ifs.” It’s the kind God tells us not to entertain. For one thing, it’s a spirit that does not come from God (2 Timothy 1:7) but can be delivered by God (Psalm 34:4). It is cast out with perfect love (1 John 4:18), and we can cast our fears on God because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). We have no reason to fear because He is with us, will strengthen us, help us, and uphold us with His power (Isaiah 41:10). 

In fact, God tells us again and again not to fear, and He even gives reasons. He will hold our hand and help us (Isaiah 41:13), He is the strength of our lives (Psalm 27:1), and He is with us (Deuteronomy 31:6, Psalm 23:4, Psalm 118:6, Joshua 1:9). He also helps us (Hebrews 13:6), fights for us (Deuteronomy 3:22), and will save us (Isaiah 35:4). Instead of fear, the Bible says, we should pray, and God will give us peace (Philippians 4:6-7)

The Solution That Wasn’t Working

As a student and even a teacher of the Bible, my go-to solution for any and every question is to prayerfully find a verse in the Bible that explains how God would have me to see it. That’s the beautiful thing about truth. Once you find it, you can stop looking. Now, that would totally work for things like fear of sickness, lack, death, and the future. There are verses that speak to those fears loud and clear in the Bible, so it would be an open and shut case (to use a pun). In fact, a while back I wrote a blog called Instead of Fear, Choose Faith in God’s Promises. It discusses the five kinds of fears and what the scriptures say about them.

But what happens when there are multiple verses in the Bible that seem to contradict about a topic? Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that they DO contradict. I’m saying that they SEEM to. See, we don’t always understand the nuances and how two verses that seem to say different things about something could exist in a truth together. But we don’t have to. We just acknowledge that they ARE true because God said them and leave the little details about how to God.

My Fear and God’s Key

That was the problem with my fear. There are scriptures that both quench that fear and fuel it, and it also crossed the line between the two kinds of fears. See, my fear was the enemy’s perversion of the fear of the Lord: the fear of God’s rejection. The torment started very soon after God came for me and saved me for real nine years ago. The enemy whispered that yes, I was saved, and that was all well and good, but it wouldn’t be long before I would screw it up. And, yes, he continued, God says He will never leave you nor forsake you, but by your actions, you can effectively “leave” Him – in which case all bets would be off. Of course, I thought that if I could LOSE my salvation, that meant that it was MY job to keep it. I just didn’t see how I could possibly do that.

Now, that first time, God gave me a verse to combat my fear: Jude 24. “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.” See that? Not I, but He. HE is able to keep me. The verse was a game changer and worked for years when the enemy brought his whispers. Then just recently it stopped working. Now fear was coming in like a tide, and it was crashing over the verse like it wasn’t even there. The enemy used other verses and well-meaning Christians to drown it out.

God Has Lots of Children

If you have children, you know that each child is different, especially when it comes to discipline. For some children, one look of displeasure might be enough to dissolve them into a fit of remorseful tears. Others would need the threat of a belt (or the use of one) to keep them in line. I think it must be the same with God’s children. These days, apparently, lots of people need that belt. In response to the greasy-grace message of prosperity and our Laodicean church age, end time preachers and watchmen are getting tough. They are pulling out the big guns with all the verses for losing salvation and shouting hell fire from post to post. 

Now this preaching may be necessary for people deliberately skirting lines between God and self on the thrones of their hearts. God doesn’t play, and there are consequences both in this life and the next for our actions. But for those of us who are sincerely trying to work out our salvation, God’s gentle correction is devastating by itself. The mere suggestion that He is not pleased is enough to make us weep and beg God to help us change. All of a sudden, with the enemy’s “help,” the lines between “doing the best I can” and “not trying hard enough” can start to blur – especially when the enemy starts poking that soft spot right where he knows it hurts. 

The Key Must Go into the Lock

This week was another poke that started with a dream. I was flung into another tizzy of fear (and in all truth, lack of trust in God). It wasn’t until I had poured out my heart and cried my last tear that I heard God’s ultimate solution to my fear that brings torment. Amazingly enough, it was the very same verse He gave me from the start: Jude 24. But this time it came with something else. It came with a realization that this was the verse God gave TO ME. 

See, the whole Bible is the inerrant Word of God, and all of it is true. It’s alive, and it can even read us better than we read it. Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

While there are lots of verses about salvation (both the ones that seem to say God keeps and the ones that seem to say people can lose), there was only one verse that God picked FOR ME. He did that because He knows me and knows just what I need. (Incidentally, a traveling evangelist who comes to our church each summer once told a similar story of how the enemy tried the same thing with him when he first got saved. God gave him the very same verse: Jude 24.)

Dissolve the Power of Fear that Brings Torment

Fear is one of the enemy’s favorite weapons. It can steal our joy and make us lose focus on the job God has for us to do. It can even cause us to question God’s goodness or even lose our trust. While some fears can be answered with a definitive verse search, some fears need a more personal solution. Praise God that He hears us when we cry. He can give us an answer that is just what we need.

Enjoy learning lessons? Try Disappointment on the Christian Walk. Or, try Sometimes We Need Wise Counsel. It’s about a time I got in over my head. Please sign up to receive my blog in your email in-box. You can find that at the upper right of your screen (or at the bottom on a phone). Also, check out my YouTube Channel where I read the blogs out loud. I also have a playlist of hymns from my church.

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