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

Calming Anxiety in Marriage

Calming Anxiety in Marriage

Let’s be honest. Matrimony sometimes feels like a place of discouragement and disappointment.

 

Marriage was created by God as an institution of security, love, friendship, and lifetime partnership. But anyone who’s married knows it doesn’t always fit such descriptions.

 

When struggles arise, as they do in any marriage, it’s common to sense anxiety rising. In the past, I have worried that I was failing to be a good wife or provide what my husband needed. At times I felt nervous thinking perhaps our marriage wouldn’t survive and that my kids would grow up with divorced parents. I have felt the anxiety of financial concerns and the burden of caring for our home and family while working full time.

 

There’s no doubt about it. Marriage can generate mountains of stress if we allow it to. I spent years allowing thoughts of “maybe” and “what if” cause more anxiety in my marriage than I care to admit.

 

Navigating Fear and Insecurity

 

It’s easy to see, now, how I worried to excess and allowed my tendency of overthinking rob me of peace and joy in my marriage. Looking back, I realize that I didn’t have the tools I needed to navigate my own fears and insecurities. In my early marriage, I was just learning to follow the Lord and didn’t understand the concept of surrender.

 

I received wise counsel such as “just give it to God,” or “let go and let God work it out.” But I had no idea how to put those phrases into practice. Truth be told, I didn’t even have an effective prayer life at that time. In church, I heard that God would help us but in the reality of my daily struggles, I couldn’t see evidence of His aid or comfort.

 

I didn’t know how to talk to my husband about what I was feeling. Communicating my insecurities was a terrifying thought. After all, I might find that each one was completely true, and then where would I be? So, I suppressed my worry and provided an environment in my thought life for anxiety to flourish.

 

That wasn’t fun for anyone.

 

The Truth of God’s Word

 

I had to learn to rely on God’s Word and allow its truth to fill my heart and mind. In doing so, I discovered the calming and peaceful impact that Scripture could have on my daily life.

 

My husband and I reached a point in our relationship where we separated. It was there, alone in different homes, that each of us began to pray. In our division, at last, God led us to an incredible act of unity. As we started to pray for each other, for our marriage, and ourselves, God revealed His nearness and unceasing activity in our lives.

 

Prayer delivered such peace and calm to my anxious heart that I could finally begin to see the future of joy and fulfillment that lay ahead. It restored my hope and taught me how to lay my concerns at the foot of the cross, surrendering worry and anxiety to the Lord. Through His goodness and power, God restored our relationship and brought wholeness that we’d never experienced.

 

That was twenty-five years ago. And with God’s help, we have enjoyed and thrived in a peace-filled marriage.

 

Praying Scripture for Your Marriage

 

In celebration of God’s goodness and aiming to help others calm anxiety in their own marriages, I created a 31-day prayer devotional for marriage. Each day provides Scriptures with prayer guidance that will invite the Lord to do a mighty work in your relationship.

Prayer Devotional for Marriage

The impact that these Scriptures have had on our marriage is nearly indescribable. We’ve transitioned from struggling and considering divorce to a fulfilling life-long commitment with open communication and unwavering trust for one another.

 

31 Specific Prayers for Your Marriage is more than just a list of Scriptures. It provides practical application pointers and hands-on guidance for growth in your prayer life. I believe, wholeheartedly, that it can help calm anxiety and stress in your marriage. It certainly had a God-sized impact in mine.

 

May you feel the Lord’s nearness today,

 

 

 

 

Calming Anxiety in Marriage

 

Calming Anxiety in Marriage

 

 

 

 

Calm Anxiety with the Truth of God

Calm Anxiety with the Truth of God

Seven days of calming anxiety. I certainly need the wisdom we’re learning together, and I pray this is a meaningful and inspirational series for you. Each post in the series turned to Scripture to embrace its truth and allow it to help point our minds to the authentic Source of our peace.

 

Recapping Our Journey

 

Calm Anxiety with God’s Power2 Timothy 1:7

How to Calm Anxiety and Find SleepPsalm 4:8 and Proverbs 3:24

Finding Peace Through Humility1 Peter 5:6-7

Calming Anxiety Through GratitudePhilippians 4:6-7

Calming Anxiety Through SurrenderIsaiah 41:10

Calm Anxiety with Focus on ChristIsaiah 26:3

 

Hope for Today

 

Today’s anxiety-calming Scripture is one that, at its surface, almost sounds too good to be true.

 

John 14:1
Your heart must not be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me (HCSB).

 

At times, it seems these words of Jesus are oversimplified. How do we gain freedom from a troubled heart by simply believing? Through prayer and in considering the depth of His profound statement, God gives me a glimpse of His powerful intent for these words.

 

If we desire freedom from a troubled heart, we must believe in God and His Son. Before this instruction can have the powerful impact they’re capable of, it’s important to analyze our belief.

 

During personal periods of hardship and anxious thinking, I have adopted some errant ideas about the Lord. They clouded what the Bible teaches is true about the living God. For example, when experiencing past trials:

 

I’ve believed God was no longer for me,

Or that He stopped caring about the people I love.

In the past, I’ve believed that my sin was too great to be covered by the blood of Jesus,

And that I was too disgraceful to receive forgiveness.

I believed that the Lord abandoned me

Or that I was being punished.

Each statement is completely untrue. If I believe false truths about Jesus, I have no hope in calming or overcoming anxiety.

 

Calm Anxiety With the Truth of God

 

In order to calm my troubled heart, I must believe the truth about God and that truth is found in His Word.

 

When I believe that His love covers a multitude of sins, including my own, then I receive hope for a blessed future walking in the Lord’s favor. (See 1 Peter 4:8).

 

By believing that He is a loving Father, I can embrace my identity as His child and know that He is for me. Whatever struggles He allows into my life are filtered through His loving kindness. (See 1 John 3:1).

 

With the belief that God has a good plan for His children, I can rest in the knowledge that He is always working for my good and His glory. (See Jeremiah 29:11).

 

 

It’s not enough to believe in a God about whom I’ve formed my own perception —especially one based on emotion and disappointments. Complete peace comes when I believe in the God of the Bible, when I believe who God says He is in His Word. The more I read His Word, the more I begin to know and understand His character, His nature, and His ways. A deeper connection and relationship with my Heavenly Father emerges out of the time that I spend with Him. There, I find perfect peace that calms anxiety.

 

Mindful of Anxiety

 

Part of the formula I’ve discovered to calm anxiety is to remain mindful of it. I’ve learned that I cannot allow it to run rampant through my heart and mind or my anxious thoughts will continue to multiply within me.  I must tame my thought patterns, and that requires smothering them with the truth of Scripture. When my mind is filled with God’s truth, there’s no room for it to wander off into negative, anxious, and destructive thinking.

 

The Bible is filled with God’s wisdom and instruction that deliver His authentic and unwavering peace. By relying on Him, I can calm anxiety and embrace joy in my jumbled life.

 

May you discover our holy God through His Word today,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Calm Anxiety with Focus on Christ

Calm Anxiety with Focus on Christ

Anxiety, whether common anxiety over life issues or an anxiety disorder, is something that plagues our minds. It takes root in our thought lives and can disrupt so much more: our energy levels, concentration, eating habits, sleep, communication, relationships, you name it! The real struggle is in what we ponder, which is why today’s verse is so powerful as we work to calm anxiety.

Isaiah 26:3
You will keep the mind that is dependent on You
in perfect peace,
for it is trusting in You (HCSB)

 

The more we focus on God, the more we receive His peace. The HCSB says peace comes when our minds are dependent on God. Other Bible translations use the terms “stayed,” “fixed,” or “steadfast.” Each points us in the same direction. When God is the center of our focus, we trust in Him and He brings peace. Perfect peace. That peace is unwavering and able to withstand anything that comes at us.

 

How do we focus on God? How do we develop a steadfast thought life that holds Christ in the center? It takes practice, first and foremost. And we start one step at a time. Here are some practices that help me when my thoughts threaten to take a dangerous path of worry and anxiety:

 

Calm Anxiety with Focus on Christ

 

Read more of God’s Word.

My aim is to read Scripture every day. I don’t give myself a set assignment like reading an entire chapter or three. My days are too sporadic for that. Sometimes I have lots of time to read and other days it feels like my feet are running on a treadmill before I ever even get out of bed. As I read daily Scripture, sometimes it’s one verse. Sometimes it’s an entire book of the Bible. It truly doesn’t matter. If I’m reading His Word, it is an aid to keep my mind fixed on God.

Pray and ask for focus.

As I turn my minds to focus on God, I’m trying to accomplish a spiritual discipline. I cannot accomplish a spiritual discipline with fleshly strength. It’s important to ask for the Lord’s help in my endeavor and accept His supernatural and divine help. I am not alone in this task. God is by my side, aiding and equipping me along the way.

Place visual and electronic reminders.

It helps a LOT to have a Bible verse taped to the bathroom mirror, or to my dashboard, or as wallpaper on my phone. It also helps to set an electronic alarm as a reminder to take a break for 5 minutes and read or re-read a verse or passage each day. Lastly, when making the bed, I sometimes place my Bible on my pillow to remind myself to read the Word once again before I drift off to sleep.

Listen to podcasts or watch videos that pertain to the Bible.

I find this a great way to use my drive time or chore time to help my thought habits. ** If you’d like to listen in, I have a FREE daily video devotion series here. **

Find accountability.

I often ask a friend, mentor, or even my husband to check in with me from time to time and ask if I’ve been in God’s Word each day. If I know I’ll have to answer to someone, even casually, I’m much more diligent in my efforts. Accountability can go a long way in strengthening my thought life and fixing it on God.

 

Which of these tips do you find most helpful? Are there practices that you use that I didn’t share? Please tell me about them in the comments. I’d love to hear!

For additional inspiration about calming anxiety, be sure to read the rest of this 7-day series.

If you’ve enjoyed this post, please share it on social media so other women can also be encouraged!

May you find great peace today as you fix your mind on Christ,

 

 

 

 

Calm Anxiety with Focus on Christ

 

 

Calm Anxiety through Focus on Christ

 

 

 

Calm Anxiety Through Surrender

Calm Anxiety Through Surrender

Mamas tend to worry. It’s what we do. We face more anxiety about our children than we ever dreamed possible.

 

I remember seasons when my kids were off to college, wrestling with feeling utterly out of control. And that’s because I was. We can teach, guide, counsel, and influence our kids till we’re blue in the face. But when it comes right down to it, they’ll make their own decisions. As parents, we have no way of controlling that.

 

I lost a lot of sleep in those college days, wishing I could be with my kiddos to guard and protect them and worrying over them because I couldn’t. There’s not much that’s fun about the early empty nest years, especially the tremendous concern that floods our hearts.

 

I’ll never forget a phone call during one of those heavy seasons. I talked with my son who said, “Mom, look up Isaiah 41:10. My coach showed it to me while we were on the bus to our last game.”

 

Once I looked up the verse it became a staple in our home. I cling to it often when I slip into my fearful, worrisome and anxious tendencies.

 

Isaiah 41:10
Do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be afraid, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you; I will help you;
I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand (HCSB).

 

Calm Anxiety Through Surrender

In his own way, my son was reminding me that God was tending to us both. The Lord was watching over me and guarding my troubled heart. He was also holding my son in the palm of His hand, caring for him in ways that I never could. The Lord would also watch over my daughter when it was time for her to move away. This verse reminded me of that and helped me rest in God’s protection.

 

Even when my kids are beyond my reach, I can trust that the Lord is caring for me, loving them like the gracious, protective, and tender-hearted Father that He is.

 

The Holy Spirit calls Isaiah 41:10 to my mind often, reminding me to surrender to God’s shielding care. It helps me release the protective hold I imagine that I have over my family and trust that God will handle all the details. I am not to be afraid because He is God, He is with me, He is with my family, and He helps and strengthens us all.

 

As you work to calm anxiety and worry today, take a moment to intentionally surrender your cares to God. Hold your hands in front of you, palms up and relaxed, symbolizing that you’re releasing your grip on the things that trouble your heart. Then name them, one by one, and tell the Lord that you surrender each point of concern into His strong and loving care. Ask that He show you, moment by moment, how He holds you and your worries in His righteous right hand.

 

May you find comfort in God’s Word,

 

 

 

Calming Anxiety Through Surrender

 

 

Calm Anxiety Through Gratitude

Calm Anxiety Through Gratitude

Thank you for stopping by the blog! Today is Day 4 in our series 7 Days Toward Calming Anxiety where, day by day, we allow the truth of God’s Word to calm our anxious hearts.

 

Philippians 4:6-7 were two of the first verses I ever memorized and the Lord calls it to mind often as I struggle with fear and worry. It’s become a trusted source of comfort that provides me with several action steps to calm anxiety.

 

Philippians 4:6-7
Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (HCSB).

 

The most common takeaway from this familiar passage is prayer, which is powerful and effective. Prayer should be our go-to response to trouble instead of the last resort that we turn to when nothing else seems to work. If you know me at all, you know that I value and fully embrace the power of prayer. In fact, I shared a series on the topic of prayer that you can read here.

 

But today I’d like to focus on a little phrase inside of this treasured verse that’s often overlooked:

“with thanksgiving.”

Calm Anxiety Through Gratitude

As I’ve learned (and continue to learn) how to conquer worry and anxiety, one of the most powerful weapons in my arsenal is gratitude. It’s pulled me from many obsessive thought patterns that firmly grip my mind. Giving thanks to God not only spurs our faith, but it’s also a healing practice with the power to transform and renew our minds.

 

Today as you continue in mindfulness about your own anxiety, I encourage you to take a break. Grab a comforting beverage, find a quiet place to reflect and list 5-10 aspects of your current situation for which you’re thankful.

 

I’ll share transparently that I struggle today with the unknown. After decades of solid employment in our home, I’m wrestling with our current uncertain situation, “what if” types of thoughts, and more worry than I care to admit. I can’t see the future as I once believed I could. As I practice gratitude, I am thankful that . . .

  • I have an incredible man of God partnering with me on this journey
  • while we can make plans, it’s the Lord who determines our steps (Proverbs 16:9)
  • God provides for our every need and has given us countless examples of that
  • we have friends who stand in the gap on our behalf, both praying and doing great, generous things
  • we’re learning to find contentment in every season
  • God’s timing is perfect and He is never late
  • Multiple opportunities await us on the horizon and we can look forward to new adventures

 

Simply listing simple statements of thanks shifts my mind from worry to peace and from anxiety to calm. May the practice of gratitude transform your thoughts as well.

 

Be blessed by God’s mighty promises,

 

 

 

 

 

calming anxiety through gratitude

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