For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)
Fear is the greatest enemy we will ever face in our daily lives. It is insidious, relentless, and powerful, and unless we learn to master it, we will find ourselves victim to its machinations time and again. In Christ, there is always a way to overcome, but we often miss the fundamental and imminently practical solution to fear, perhaps because it seems ‘too simple.’ The way to effectively fight fear lies in thanksgiving.
We often miss the mark because we expect the solution to fear to be as complex as fear.
It’s true that fear is a very complex human emotion. It manifests in many forms and is often disguised by reasonable explanations like healthy caution or careful consideration. Our fear may be small or large, but they all have the same end result – a stifling of the spirit. The moment we find ourselves not growing, not moving forward, not living the full power of the life of Christ in us, we can be sure that fear is at the root of it somewhere.
Immobilising the spirit is the primary purpose of fear. Satan will use it constantly to isolate us and keep us bound or worse, in a state of separation. That is essentially what fear does. It separates us from God in that we are no longer fully open to receive or to communicate. Part of ourselves is shut down – the spirit, the part which God intends should govern our lives through the leading and direction from His Spirit. Fear closes the ‘conduit’ and makes us vulnerable. While we are, in effect, never separated from God because His Word promises this will never happen, but we close off the lines of communication because our spirits cannot operate the way God intended.
God is spirit, and we respond and interact with Him in the spirit. Yes, our minds, emotions, and bodies are engaged in the process, but it is, first and foremost, a spiritual relationship. As our spirits grow stronger and begin to take their right place of authority in our lives in submission to His Spirit, so we grow and mature and become stronger, and are slowly transformed by the righteousness of Christ working in us. The ultimate purpose of fear is stop this process and to cut us off from the ‘vine’ into which we are grafted. It’s a kind of slow strangulation method which has often taken hold by the time we really notice it.
Big fears, of course, are seen easily right off, but unless we’ve had practice in dealing with small fear we won’t know how to handle big fear. Because, while it’s wonderfully true that ‘perfect love casts out all fear’ we still have to apply the love. The battle may already belong to the Lord, but to walk in the victory He has already provided, we need to fight the fear. We must engage in the battle or it will overcome us, despite all the promises of God. Our most powerful weapon is thanksgiving.
To grasp this, we must understand some of the effects of fear. First, it undermines our faith, the very foundation of our lives. Thanksgiving reminds us why we have faith and rebuilds what fear erodes. Second, it steals our joy – the joy of the Lord which is our strength. Thanksgiving always restores joy because that is the natural outcome of faith that looks only to God. Third, it steals the promises of God in our lives. Thanksgiving recalls these and strengthens our faith in God who has promised and who will provide in His perfect time.
We can find all kinds of elaborate ‘methods’ to counter fear, but the simplest and most effective is always thanksgiving because it takes our eyes off of self and our fears and centres them on the I Am of God. It reminds us of what He has already accomplished, what He is fully willing and able to accomplish, and what He has promised to accomplish. Even beyond this, it reminds us that we belong to Him and that He will perfect what He has begun, no matter what obstacles we face along the way. Thanksgiving cuts the ground out from under fear. It removes the negative thoughts and emotions that support fear, and it clears out the conduit between us and God.
Today, if fears beset you, stifle you, immobilize you, or distract you, begin to give thanks, even if you have to work at it. God responds to an obedient and a thankful heart. He has already provided all you need to overcome fear and to walk in perfect freedom. As the saying goes, don’t waste another minute – ‘just do it.’
Thank You, Lord, for the wonderful simplicity and power of every solution that You have already provided. Grant us the grace to face our enemy with praise and thanksgiving, and so to see that the battle does indeed belong to You.