The worry, anxiety, and fear shown around the world across cultures, ethnicities, and generations, through the challenge and suffering of the COVID-19 outbreak reveal common struggles we all face.
In order to be authentic with suffering, we must honestly and humbly face the reality of how much we all struggle with sinful fear, worry, and anxiety.
1. Fear/worry/anxiety is one of the most common struggles we all experience, so we are not alone (1 Cor. 10:13).
The psalmist himself writes that the terrors of death are upon him and he feels fearful and trembles in a way that is overwhelming.
Psalm 55:4-6 “My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death have fallen upon me. Fear and trembling come upon me, and horror overwhelms me.”
One of the most common commands in the bible is “Do not fear” or “Do not be afraid.” It is spoken by God, God’s angels, and God’s leaders many times even in situations that were incredibly alarming and challenging such as when facing nations, large armies, natural disasters, and future suffering on the horizon. But not all fear is bad.
2. Fear/worry/anxiety are connected to what we value or what concerns us.
There is a good fear that is appropriately connected to what values or concerns us the most which should be God.
- We are commanded and encouraged to fear God.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:7
“Do not be wise in your own eyes, fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.” Proverbs 3:7
- God expects us to show appropriate concern.
“For this reason, when I could endure it no longer, I also sent to find out about your faith, for fear that the tempter might have tempted you, and our labor would be in vain.” Colossians 3:5
- We are prohibited from sinful fear/worry/anxiety.
This is expressed when we do not trust God with our concerns (unbelief) and we value our concerns more than God’s concerns. We sin by worry/anxiety/fear when we do this, because we are not handling our concerns in a way that pleases God. We are too concerned regarding our future interests, so much so that it keeps us from living in a way that pleases God in the present.
Some biblical examples of forbidding sinful worry/anxiety/fear are listed below.
“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life…” Matthew 6:25
“Do not be anxious about anything…” Philippians 4:6
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” John 14:27
Where Do I Start If I Struggle With Fear/Anxiety/Worry
Since, we are naturally sinful and doubt God (unbelief), the way out of a life of sinful fear is to repent (turn away from a life of not trusting and following God) and believe in Jesus Christ. Jesus has the power to forgive our sins by dying on the cross and the power to help us to live a new life of faith in God by raising us from the dead. Jesus says:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.…I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:2, 6)
Why We Don’t Have to Worry If Jesus Is Our King
Jesus says the reason the Christian should not worry or fear is because Jesus is our master and since Jesus is God he will take care of us. If we trust Jesus, he helps us to fight fear in our lives by trusting God. But if we do not have trust in Jesus, we will always be worried and anxious because our concerns, values, and hopes are in the weak and temporary things of the world and not a powerful and caring God.
24 “No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
26 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? 27 And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?
28 And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?
31 Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
34 “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”
If Jesus is your master (the authority you trust to care for your life), do not worry about your life or body because God will secure your future.
Fight Fear with Faith Strengthening Trust in These Truths From Matthew 6
#1: God provides me with greater things
I don’t have to worry because if God provides me greater things like my life and physical body, he will surely provide me with smaller things I need like food and clothing.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?”
#2: I am more valuable than birds
I don’t have to worry because, if God provides for less valuable things like birds, God will certainly care for my life which is more valuable than a bird.
“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?”
#3: Worry does nothing
Worry wastes my life and adds nothing good to my life.
“And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?”
#4: My eternity with God matters most to God
I don’t have to worry because, if God provides amazing and detailed care for beautiful flowers that are so temporary, God will certainly care for my life as his child, whom he formed to live forever to worship and represent him.
“And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?
#5: My Father knows and cares
I don’t have to worry about simple basic human needs and allow my life to be controlled and focused on only human concerns like those who don’t know God. I can trust that my heavenly Father knows and will provide what I need so I can be focused on God’s concerns and not human concerns.
“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.”
#6: Live for God and he will give me all I need
I know God, my heavenly Father, will give me all the things I need when I am living for God’s concerns and doing what he wants.
“But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
#7: I have enough problems today for God to help me handle
Don’t worry about the future because each day has enough evil without me adding to it by worry. God provides me what I need now to face today’s evils.
“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”
Additional Application to Fight Fear:
- Turn away from a life of unbelief and distrust of God and trust in Jesus Christ (John 14:1-6).
- Pray your concerns and requests to God knowing he cares for you and with thankfulness for what God has provided already and promises to provide in the future (1 Pet. 5:6-7; Phil. 4:6-9).
- Focus on doing today’s responsibilities in the power of Jesus Christ rather than tomorrow’s troubles (Matt. 6:34).
- Seek to love God and others instead of fearing what you may lose of your own (Phil. 2:3-4).
- Distinguish between right concern and sinful fear and carefully list your feelings, thoughts, desires, words, and actions under these categories and analyze them with the Bible.
Discussion and Reflection Questions:
Question: What are you worried/anxious/fearful of most right now?
Question: What do you normally think and do when you are fearful?
Question: Which faith building promise from Matthew 6 most encouraged you and why?