The Fear of the Unknown
When I was a child, I was terrified of a ‘little man’ who I imagined lived upstairs where my bedroom was. I never knew if he was under my bed, in the attic, or hiding in a closet. I was terrified of this little man and made sure my brother was the first to go upstairs at bedtime. If the little man attacked, he’d get my brother first!
It wasn’t until my parents found out about my fear and illuminated all the possible hiding places with a flashlight that I overcame the fear. After I was assured there was no ‘little man,’ I was able to go to sleep in peace.
Similarly, the enemy uses fear to keep us paralyzed from being who God wants us to be. The reason he uses fear in your life is that you matter so much to God. The enemy sees your potential and he doesn’t want you to realize it.
God wants us to live fearless lives, not fearful lives.
Fear of the future
One of our greatest fears is the fear of the future or the fear of the unknown. When you think about the future, though, it’s not the future that you fear. In reality, we’re fearing the past. We’re fearing feelings and emotions we’ve experienced in the past. As we face the future, it’s those things we don’t want to deal with again.
Instead, we tend to build walls around our lives to keep fear out. The walls we build around our lives cause us to have a greater fear as opposed to just living life and facing fear. So again, the fear you face is not the fear of the future, it’s the fear of the past. The baseline of all fear is the fear of the future.
We have a couple of ways to face fear. We can either face it with a foundation or we can face it with feelings. A foundation is solid. It’s significant.
Feelings, on the other hand, are capricious. You can’t nail them down. It’s like trying to nail Jell-o to a wall, so to speak. We either face fear with a foundation or with our feelings.
The Bible says in Proverbs 1:7 that the fear of God is the beginning of knowledge, the beginning of wisdom.
1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.”
It seems that the two verses don’t make sense. On one hand, God is telling us perfect love drives out fear, but on the other hand, that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.
Despite what you may be thinking, they’re not diametrically opposed. They’re really the same thing but in a different way.
The fear of God means I reverence God. He’s God and I’m not. I’m in awe of God. When I put God in his proper place as the foundation for my life, I am going to have knowledge. I’m going to have wisdom.
Perfect love is the love from above. God is a perfect parent. He’s given us this incredible gospel. He arranged for our sins to be transferred to His Son’s shoulders. Jesus paid the price on the cross and rose again. If we respond to that love, because God loved us first, that love, God’s love from above gives us the ability to drive out fear.
2 Ways To Conquer Fear
There are two ways to stare fear in the face and find the strength to overcome it.
- Look to the Past
Borrow from what God has done in your past in a great way and project that onto your future. What we do, instead, is we borrow pain, and borrow “I can’t do it,” and “that might happen to me” and we get involved in scenario sickness.
Look at the life of David. As he prepared to face the giant, he remembered something from his past.
1 Samuel 17:34 says, “David answered Saul: ‘Your servant has been tending his father’s sheep. Wherever a lion or a bear came and carried off a lamb from the flock, I went after it, struck it down, and rescued the lamb from its mouth. If it reared up against me, I would grab it by its fur, strike it down, and kill it.”
David borrowed from the past to face his current fear.
- Look to the Future
We fear what could happen. The reason we fear what could happen is because it’s based on what did happen in our lives. Let’s not borrow fear from the past. Let’s borrow faith from the past as we face the future.
Don’t Deify Fear
Then the second thing is: don’t deify fear. Don’t make fear more than it is. Whatever you’re fearing will not play out like you think it’s going to play out. We think because something happened a certain way in the past, it will be the same in the future.
But Jesus said in Matthew 6:34, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
In the book of Nehemiah, we read that Nehemiah wanted to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the city, but he was in captivity to King Artaxerxes. Yet God had instructed Nehemiah to go back to Jerusalem and rebuild the city walls.
So Nehemiah faced his fear, even though it was forbidden to look sad in the king’s presence in Egyptian culture.
And when the king asked Nehemiah why he was sad, Nehemiah didn’t deify the fear or put fear above His obedience to God—although I bet he was shaking a little bit!
In fact, Nehemiah 2:2 tells us he was terrified of telling the king he wanted to return to Jerusalem. After all, he could have been killed!
But Nehemiah faced his fear, and you can read what happened in the rest of the chapter.
For Further Thought
Psalm 27:1 says, “The Lord is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear?”
We don’t have to fear any ‘little man’ because we can look to Jesus. When we look to Him, we see what God sees. As His children, we can face fear and live this life with a trajectory and a purpose that the world can’t touch. We don’t have to fear the unknown.
If you would like to learn more about what that means or are searching to find healing from fears that plague you, visit Fellowship Church—online or in person—and see what being a follower of Jesus is really all about.