I woke up to fists pounding on the front door that winter morning, shouting voices, “Police! Open up!” Next, the scurry of Mom’s slippers, the opening and closing of cabinets and drawers, my mom’s voice, high-pitched and frantic. -Emily from Sticks and Stones
Fear – the emotion strongly expressed by Emily in Sticks and Stones as she hears the police at her door, and the feeling all of us feel at some point in our lives, or possibly continue to feel on a daily basis.
Fear can be good. It can cause us to react quickly in a dangerous situation, or keep us from doing something hazardous. But when irrational fear creeps in and settles down, it is crippling and detrimental. It can destroy our sense of identity, our purpose, our freedom.
It’s interesting that the most frequent command in the Bible is to NOT fear. In fact, the topic of fear is mentioned more than 500 times in the Bible, and supposedly the specific words to not fear or not be afraid can be found 365 times. That’s right, the same amount of times as there are days in the year, we are told to not be scared.
Why would God tell us this so many times, enough for every day of the year? Clearly, he knows it’s something we need to hear, and I’m sure none of us would deny that reality. The world is kind of a frightening place.
We turn on the news to see frightening events in our schools, our malls, at concerts, in people’s homes, in our own governments, and across the world. We scroll through social media and feel inferior compared to the happy perfect smiles on the screen, making us fearful of how we might be viewed, or afraid we may never match up and be enough according to the world’s standards.
Like all of us, Emily has reasons to be afraid. Who wouldn’t be afraid to wake up to police knocking on the door? But also like Emily, we have a God who is with us in the scary places, every single minute, of every single day.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we always knew that? How might we live differently with the confidence of God with us every moment? With the world loudly speaking, it doesn’t come naturally for us to remember. It’s something we need to consciously remind ourselves of or we risk hearing and seeing all the things of the world that go against the comforting and encouraging words God wants us to hear.
One of my favorite Bible verses is Isaiah 41:10:
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
If I can remember this and picture God’s hand upholding me, strengthening me, helping me, I can then move my focus away from my fears, off myself, and onto the one who is stronger than anything that comes against me. I can speak the words of Romans 8:31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
These words are powerful. They are the words God gives us to remember who to turn to when the world tries to take us down, tries to steel our joy, tries to make us live and act in fear.
We aren’t promised a trouble free world. In fact, Jesus tells us in John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
So when facing difficulties and frightening situations, we can proclaim the win. With God at our side, holding us in the palm of his hand, we will come through as conquerors.
What are some of your biggest fears? Like Emily, has something caught you off guard? Has something happened that seems to have taken away your security, your stability?
Journal and Ask
Write down some of your fears. Try writing them as a letter to God, telling him what scares you and asking him for help.
Look up verses about fear on an app or website such as blueletterbible.org or biblegateway.com. Write them down in your journal or post them where you will see them. What do you hear God saying to you in these words? Maybe record your thoughts.
Remember and Pray
Speak these words whenever you feel scared and ask God to help you remember them.
Here are some verses you can start with:
Psalm 27:1 The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?
Psalm 56:3 When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
Isaiah 41:13 For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.
1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Matthew 6:25-27 Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?”
Matthew 6:34 Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Psalm 121:1-2 I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
The police knocking on Emily's door is just the beginning of her journey through fear and insecurity. You can read more of her story in Sticks and Stones,