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By: James River Church12/08/16

How to Overcome Fear and Anxiety

My Fight With Fear

I was practically a child when I got my high school girlfriend pregnant. I was 17 years old, living at various friends’ houses with no job and my transportation was a skateboard (I was a catch). My son was born two days before I walked for my high school graduation. Overnight, I went from a punk skater kid to a dad who had to figure out how to provide for my son, his mother, and myself. The stress was unimaginable and unlike anything I had ever experienced up till then.

As soon as I came to, I was in a panic. My heart was racing, I was hyperventilating, and the doctors had to medicate me to calm me down.

About a month after my son was born, the stress caught up to me. I don’t remember much of that first day, but I do remember calling for help and then waking up in the hospital. As soon as I came to, I was in a panic. My heart was racing, I was hyperventilating, and the doctors had to medicate me to calm me down.

I spent the next month on the couch. Even getting up to eat or use the restroom was more than I could handle. “How could I be so weak?” I thought. Even when my parents would come visit, I would have to try to ignore that they were there because anything outside of my “routine” would set me off, and with a newborn nothing is routine.

The medication wasn’t helping the anxiety and made me feel lethargic, so I stopped taking it, but I had to find something to help…

Something to Help

From ages five to ten, I had extremely vivid nightmares. I would wake up so terrified that I was afraid to walk across the hall at night to my parent’s room. When I would finally work up the courage to run to their room, my mom would reassure me with Scriptures. She would pray with me and send me to bed. And although my fear didn’t fully leave me, I remember feeling a small semblance of peace.

Fast forward to me on the couch. I needed that peace I felt as a child, and even though I wasn’t a Christian I prayed. I read the Bible my parents gave me as a teenager that I had never EVER opened, and I asked God to take my anxiety away.

If You Want to Overcome Fear, You have to be Able to Define It

Fear: An anxious feeling, caused by our anticipation of some imagined event or experience.

Experts call fear an “illusion that’s neither tangible nor visible.” We often don’t even realize why we are fearful. Fear is an autonomic response, meaning we don’t choose to trigger fear or even know it’s happening until we are consumed by it.

Our lack of choice when it comes to being fearful doesn’t mean that we can’t choose to move through it.

Once it has started, we try to rationalize our anxiety, replaying what happened that day, week, or month… Rationally the event that triggered the anxiety seems small in comparison to how we are feeling, but our emotions are often not rational.

However, our lack of choice when it comes to being fearful doesn’t mean that we can’t choose to move through it. There is a decision that has to be made: will I trust God, or will I allow my fear to control me?

How King David Dealt With Fear in Psalm 13

One of the great comforts I have found when dealing with fear lies in the Psalms. Fear was a constant issue for King David. He was hunted, assaulted, and threatened, yet through all the fear and anxiety; he continued in the purposes of God. Psalm 13 shows the battle David faced when dealing with fear. He had seen God go before him in amazing ways; however, when fear took its hold, it seemed as if the past got thrown out the window, and he found himself anxiously toiling over his current situation. Throughout this Psalm, we see several things King David did to overcome his fear.

King David Turned to God

How long, O Lord? (Psalm 13:1a ESV)

Notice that David is not screaming out into the cosmos. He’s not grumbling to the air. David turns towards God; the person who can help him. This is perhaps the most important and most difficult step when dealing with anxiety and fear. When we are fearful, we want to retreat into our safe place. We want to stay hidden, but God wants us to turn to Him. He wants to be our safe place. He wants to protect us.

“The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.” (Psalm 9:9-10 ESV)

King David Confessed His Doubt

Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? (Psalm 1:1b-2 ESV)

If we run to God, but neglect to pour out our cares and concerns to Him, are we really running to God in the first place? If we don’t tell God about our fears and anxieties, are we trusting that He will help us? Our response to these questions often are, “Well, God is God, so He already knows my situation.” But the admission of our doubt in God is not about His knowing; it’s about ours.

God invites us to confess our doubts to Him.

We get so used to processing things internally that we can become deaf to our doubts. We may not even know that we doubt God’s love or God’s ability until we say it out loud. God invites us to confess our doubts to Him. It is through our admission of doubt that He can speak to our heart and encourage our faith.

“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:7-8 ESV)

King David Reminded Himself of God’s Love

But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me. (Psalm 13:5-6 ESV)

Perfect love casts out all fear. When you fully understand that God loves you, that He cares for you, and that He would do anything for you, what reason would you have to be afraid? Remember, fear is not rational; it has a way of blinding us from the truth. It makes us forget the love that God has poured out on us yesterday, and the day before, and so on. However, God’s Word stands as a timeless reminder; it continually speaks to the love of God and His love for you.

“And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5 ESV)

King David saw Supernatural Comfort in God

When you read David’s words, “he has dealt bountifully with me,” or as The Message puts it, “I’m so full of answered prayers,” the natural response is to be reminded of the miracles God has done in your life. As you remind yourself of His goodness and power, fear begins to melt away. In another Psalm David writes,

I went from a fearful unbeliever to a faith-filled believer, and it is only through the power of God in and through my life.

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11 ESV)

David understood that when he ran to God, his fear would be replaced with faith, and his anxiousness would be replaced with joyfulness. Fear can be silenced. Fear can be fought, and our primary weapon is the Word of God. Scripture tells us, “the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

I have personally found solace in the Word of God, and no longer struggle with panic attacks. I went from a fearful unbeliever to a faith-filled believer, and it is only through the power of God in and through my life. However, we all deal with fear at times.

Let the truth of God’s Word remind you of His power in your life. You don’t have to be afraid, but when you are, run to God, confess your doubt, remind yourself of His love for you, and see the supernatural comfort He brings.