How Faith Delivers Freedom from Fear

How Faith Delivers Freedom from Fear

I remember receiving the phone call like it was yesterday. The police in our son’s out of state college town wanted to speak with us about some trouble he’d encountered.

 

That moment started a cyclone of emotions and a paralyzing struggle with fear that simply blindsided me. Although I struggled to identify exactly what I was afraid of, over the next many months, the Lord walked me through a painful and gut-wrenching spiritual journey of discovery and surrender.

 

As early as the onset, I trusted the Lord and believed—even through this trial—that He had a good plan for my son and our family. Still, I experienced a gripping level of trepidation that nearly stopped my ministry in its tracks and began to have a crippling impact on my life roles of wife and mom. Every part of my life felt as though it were under attack.

 

The Beginning of Breakthrough

 

One day my pastor suggested I borrow a book called Fearless by Max Lucado. He pulled it from his bookshelf and I placed it inside my handbag to take home. It sat on the desk in my home office for weeks. Every day as I walked by it, I’d think, “I should read that.” But I was unable to muster the strength to take even the smallest step toward freedom. It was as if I were too sick to reach out and grab a cure.

 

At last, I picked up the book and opened it. On the first page was nothing more than a Bible verse. It was Matthew 8:26, when Jesus asked His disciples,

 

“Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?”

 

That was all I could take.

 

Tears spontaneously filled my eyes. I slammed the book closed and dropped it on my desk as the words penetrated my heart like a dagger. I couldn’t make myself read another word for quite some time.

 

But as only He can do, the Lord used His living Word to plant a seed of truth and understanding into my life. Matthew 8:26 swirled in my thoughts. It stayed in my mind when I slept, while I showered, and walked through my daily tasks. Slowly, over time, the Lord used that one verse to help me understand the powerful impact of fear and its relationship with faith.  Jesus used His Word to reveal a path of victory over fear that has stayed with me many years later.

 

The Opposition of Fear and Faith

 

 

In Matthew 8:26, Jesus referred to His disciples as “men of little faith” because of the fear they experienced. That unfolds an interesting dynamic. Faith and fear are like opposite platforms on a scale.

 

As our fear increases, it diminishes the manifestation of our faith. Conversely, if our faith increases, it diminishes our fear.

 

Fear and faith are in opposition and have a direct impact on one another.

 

It can sometimes feel difficult to hold fast to our faith, which leaves us vulnerable to the enemy’s fiery darts of fear. Even when we can’t identify that “thing” of which we’re fearful, effects of fear can be paralyzing. Just because we follow Christ doesn’t mean we’re exempt. I can tell you from first-hand experience that fear

 

  • Masks our joy
  • Keeps us from pursuing our calling
  • Causes dissension in relationships
  • Makes us feel separated and discontented
  • Can manifest in physical symptoms
  • Holds us in captivity
  • Makes us forget how big God is

 

Wielding the Shield of Faith

 

During that season in my life, there was little question that I was in bondage to fear. Each time those fiery darts made impact, I felt the sizzle and smelled the scorch. But God, as He always does, provided a way of protection. Ephesians 6 addresses the full armor of God and teaches that our shield of faith will “extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (v. 16).

 

The Greek word thureos describes a large, oblong shield that protected every part of a soldier. It was an essential piece of equipment that was covered in leather to help defend against flaming arrows. The thureos was about waist high and at least as wide as an average person. Warriors became so skilled at using their shield that other pieces of armor often escaped any impact at all.

 

The illustration aptly demonstrates the power of faith. As Paul referenced a shield of faith, he selected the word thureos to make his point. Our shield of faith offers such complete protection, other pieces of armor (the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, helmet of salvation, and shoes of the preparation of the gospel of peace) rarely receive impact.

 

“Imagine yourself holding up your shield of faith. All is going well until your eyes see something astonishing. Within your field of vision is something you never imagined and you stand, mouth gaping, feeling your left arm, which holds your shield, begin to slump. What you see with your eyes affects your faith and it begins to falter, ever so slightly. As your faith begins to weaken, your shield moves out of position and you are suddenly vulnerable to the enemy. We may have other pieces of protective armor, but when the enemy fires a flaming arrow, we’re sunk.  In my estimation, fear is a flaming arrow!

 

Think of what was happening to the disciples in Matthew 8. The storm was fierce. It was what the disciples could see with their eyes, hear with their ears, and feel upon their skin. What emotion did they experience? Fear. It can paralyze our brains and make us completely forget (even if just temporarily) how BIG God really is.   

 

I’ll just come out and say it:  Fear seems to make us lose our minds and forget the wonders He has performed in our lives and all the ways that He has proven Himself trustworthy. The disciples had many reasons to put their faith in Jesus. They saw Him work many mighty miracles, and yet were afraid when the storm on the sea arose.” *

Finding Joy in the Journey* this is an excerpt from my book, Finding Joy in the Journey (available on Amazon.com)

 

As believers in Christ, we love the Lord. We have learned to put our trust in Him and He has proved faithful through His work in our lives. We have seen Him perform modern-day wonders and bring us through hardships, trials, and heartaches. He promises to never leave us nor forsake us. He is incapable of dishonesty, yet at times, fear consumes us.

 

Why are we afraid when Christ has proven Himself so faithful? Why do we fear when the Lord of lords is on our side? What is it that makes us waver in our faith?

 

The Progression

 

Can you see the progression?

 

Our situation becomes frightening and our eyes fix on our situation.

 

We turn our focus to what we see (our situation) as opposed to what we cannot see (God’s activity).

 

Our faith is compromised, which causes our shield to move out of position.

 

We become a vulnerable target for our enemy, which causes deeper fear and a shield that shifts even further.

 

Faith Delivers Freedom from Fear!

 

There is good news! Just as quickly as our fear can cause us to lose faith, our faith can conquer our fear. Remembering to raise our shield of faith and duck behind it, even as we quake and tremble, our faith can overtake our fear. And here’s the thing – it can happen in a split second!

 

Because God does not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and discipline (2 Timothy 1:7), the enemy of our souls will not win this battle. With this in mind, take courage. Raise your shield and fight the good fight, knowing God is your defender.

 

Throughout this battle with fear, God impressed five specific fear-fighting strategies that continue to help me to this day. I’ve compiled them into a beautiful, FREE Printable that you can keep close at hand when fear strikes.  Click here to access 5 Fear Fighting Strategies and download the printable instantly!

Faith Delivers Freedom from Fear

 

 

 

 

I pray that you always remember to wield your shield of faith and allow it to offer its vast protection against the schemes of the evil one. God is victorious! And as His children, so too, are we!

 

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like this 7-day series on calming anxiety!

Thank you for sharing on social media so other women can find encouragement too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Faith Delivers Freedom from Fear

Finding Strength in the Darkest Days

Finding Strength in the Darkest Days

Everything went silent.

That’s how it felt when we heard the news. I didn’t know what to think, or how to feel. The world around me hushed. It was if a tunnel had swallowed all but a single focus. Every thought stilled except for the facts I learned listening to one side of a phone conversation.

My husband Mike and I were on vacation in Orlando. Our daughter and son-in-law had just joined us, and my son and daughter-in-law were due to arrive the next day.

 

Receiving the News

Mike answered a call from his dear friend and second in command who said words we prayed we’d never hear. We had an officer down and he was unresponsive.

Not long later, the medical team issued the pronouncement of death. The Adams County Sheriff’s Office had just experienced their first line of duty death since 1988.

One of the wives in our Sheriff’s Office family, Mrs. Heath Gumm, had just become a widow. His parents had just lost their son. Heath’s sister lost her brother. Fellow officers lost a friend, a trusted partner, and a brother in blue. Our community lost one of the good guys – a deputy who truly loved to serve. None of us will ever be the same.

Finding Strength Through Joy

I’m sharing this with you because I feel that my ministry and calling are to help others find joy in a jumbled life. That day – a week ago yesterday – our lives were far more than jumbled. They were shattered.

My hope is to share how, even as we received some of the worst possible news, the joy of the Lord could remain our strength. You see, joy is not the feeling of happiness. It’s often confused with an emotion or associated with a favorable set of circumstances. But joy is different from that. It’s a steadfast, abiding mindset. It’s an instinctive understanding that all the characteristics of God’s nature remain intact – even through our hardest struggles.

Embracing joy involves trusting in God’s goodness, even when we can’t see how an ounce of good can come from something we’ve experienced. Joy is wrapped in the knowledge that God can redeem and restore any circumstance. It’s the knowledge that He will eventually shine light through the most terrible, unthinkable circumstances. Even when we can’t imagine how.

The Bible says that the joy of the Lord is our strength (see Nehemiah 8:10). I recently heard a teacher describe it this way: We are only as strong as the level of joy that we embrace.

So, the more I trust God, the more strength I garner to walk through difficulties. The more that Mike relies on the Lord’s guidance to order his steps as he leads the agency and our community, the stronger he becomes – even amidst our own personal grief. The more that you trust in God’s goodness, the more strength, and power you can muster to navigate whatever you’re facing.

It’s not scientific, but it is proven theology. I can’t explain it by numbers or equations but through personal experiences and testimonies of those who have watched it play out. The joy of the Lord, indeed, is our strength.

Joy is God’s Gift of Strength

His joy is available for all His children. It’s one of God’s mightiest gifts to us. Let’s not let the gift go unopened. Instead, let’s open and embrace the gift of God’s joy even when… no – especially when … the struggles of life come close to utterly breaking us.

After Mike received the horrific news, we put him on the next flight home. He began the long journey of seeking answers and moving toward healing, walking shoulder to shoulder with some of the finest men and women in our law enforcement community.

At last, I arrived home several long days later and had the privilege of spending a little time with some of the Sheriff’s Office team. Through the eyes of many I’ve come to love, I saw broken hearts, confusion, and weariness. But I also saw unified purpose and resolve. As they looked to their leader, I saw glimmers of hope and the full awareness that Deputy Gumm’s ultimate sacrifice will never be forgotten.

The joy of the Lord is our strength, and through that joy, happiness will once again return. It will take time, yes. For now, we grieve. And we do so with honor.

By embracing the joy of the Lord in our pain, He will usher in healing and wholeness. What happened will never be made right, but it can be redeemed. We await that day with eager expectation and trust the Lord will bring it. Until then and forevermore, His joy will remain our strength.

Blessings,

 

 

 

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