Christian Counseling and Fear
Fear paralyzes and cripples. It keeps people from driving, from church, from work, from crowds and even from family gatherings. It often manifests itself in panic attacks that make a person feel like he is having a heart attack. It is horribly frightening and debilitating.
Can this destructive habit be rooted out of your life forever? Yes, it can be! There is hope that you can conquer this problem. You have hope because of what you are doing now, seeking a Biblical solution. Don’t stop. Keep reading this brochure. You are on the right track.
Now let us understand that this emotion is not always wrong. I Peter 1:17 tell us, “…live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.” And in Revelation 14:7 we read, “Fear God and give him glory….” So, as you can see, sometimes this emotion is good. And yet at other times it is bad. The Bible gives us hope that this can be conquered. David said in the twenty-third Psalm, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me….” Notice that the Bible gives us hope that this can be conquered.
Now, just what are the steps to finding God’s solution to this bondage? There are three.
Number one, you must know God personally before you can expect Him to give you the help you need to conquer this problem. In Matthew 12:4&5 we read, “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.” It is only God who can throw you into hell. If you do not have a godly respect of Him that results in the salvation of your soul, then you lack the resources to deal with godless fear and indeed have much to fear from God Himself.
You must have God’s help to solve this problem. The eternal solution to this godless emotion begins with repentance of your sins and faith in Christ who died for sinners at Calvary. If Jesus Christ is not your Savior, you must make him so, for without Christ you lack God’s great resource of problem solving – His Holy Spirit.
Number two; understand that this is a very intensified form of worry. In this emotion you take worry to the next logical level, a total focus on something other than God. Godly fear, a total focus on God, is a great virtue. Godless fear, a total focus on you and your circumstances, to the neglect of God’s role in your life, is a great sin. It is a great sin because it is totally loveless. In a godless response, your focus is removed entirely from what you should love, i.e. God and your neighbor, and onto what you should not love, your selfish self.
John says in I John 4:18, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” If as John says “There is no fear in love.” It therefore follows that there is no love in a godless agitation. And that is your problem. You do not love properly. You do not love God, your mate, your children, your neighbor, as God requires you. If you did, then that love would drive out this sin. There was a man who feared crossing bridges. He went out of his way through tortuous routes to avoid crossing bridges. One day he received a call at work, “Your daughter has been injured in an accident at school. She needs you now!” You know what he did? He crossed five bridges getting to her and did not give any of those bridges a second thought in doing so. Why? It is because his love for his daughter drove out the terror.
Number three. There is another element that needs our attention. It is the concern for loss. A distress of the loss of life, perhaps a loved one is dying, a loss of wealth, perhaps your business is failing, a loss of a marriage, perhaps your husband has left you, a loss of health, perhaps you are becoming increasingly ill and infirm. What is God’s answer to these terrors in your life? Remember what David said in the 23rd Psalm? “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me….” The Scriptures confront even the terror at the loss of your very life with words of comfort. In every case mentioned above there is only one sure and successful way to confront this emotion. And that way is with trust. Did you find him faithful enough to trust Him with the everlasting destiny of your soul? Yes you did. Now you must trust him with the everyday problems of your life.
“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? When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident.” Psalm 27:1-3
We have identified fear as 1) an intensified form of worry, and 2) a noticeable lack of love to God or neighbor, and 3) a failure to trust God during the difficult times of life. Now what is the solution to this problem?
First, begin by determining that you will trust God through this crisis. Tell God that you will accept His decision in this problem. Does it involve the death of a loved one? His will be done. Does it involve a financial crisis? His will be done. Does it involve a loss of health? His will be done. Trust God today. Hold back nothing. ” Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Revelation 2:10
Second, make a list of those whom you are required to love. First on the list must be God, then your neighbor. Start with your closest neighbor, your mate. Make the list complete. List your mate, children, siblings, parents, church friends, neighbors. Now under each, list your actions of love in their life. Is the list rather short? It probably is. Why? It is because this despair has cast out love. You are a self-focused, maybe even a selfish, person. Christ summed up the plan of action in Luke 9:23, “Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Let’s work on that plan of action, the one that denies self and follows Christ. That brings us back to our “Love List.” It’s short, maybe non-existent. Let’s make it long and pleasing to God. Create a plan of action focusing on serving others. List 20 ways you can love every person on that list. Now begin to do it, daily. Never let one day pass without denying self and serving, which is—loving others.
Start right now on this project, and don’t stop for one year and six weeks. In six weeks you will have made a habit of denying self and serving others. Because of your growing love you will cross many bridges during the weeks ahead. Each will become easier. When you fail to even notice them then you will know what John meant when he said, “perfect love drives out fear.”
Next, find an accountability partner to help you stick to your list of needed actions. Perhaps your pastor or one of the leaders of the church will fill that roll. Get started on this project today.
If you are committed to do the things mentioned above, you have made an important first step in overcoming this problem, but just a first step. Let’s build on that start.
First, you must pray about this problem. God tells us that prayer accomplishes much. Jesus Himself spent much time in prayer, and you should also. Pray that God will help you “put off” the old sinful patterns of your life and “put on” patterns of righteousness.
Second, you must find a Bible believing church, if you are not in one already, and join it. Tell the pastor what you are dealing with and what you have learned in this brochure. Ask for his help and the help and support of the church.
Third, you must get into the habit of a daily Bible study. Set aside time every day to red the Bible and pray, preferably in the morning before the start of the day. If you read three chapters in the Bible every day, you will read it through once every year for the rest of your life.
God bless you.
Ralph E. Bass, Jr. has an undergraduate degree, BA, in Bible from Bob Jones University, and several graduate degrees: a M.A. in Counseling from Webster University, a M.Div. in divinity studies from Erskine Theological Seminary, a Th.M. in theological studies from Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, and a Th.D. in theological studies from Reformation International Theological Seminary. Dr. Bass was for a number of years a biblical counselor, a pastor, and as a teacher and school administrator in several Christian schools. He is married and has five children and seventeen grandchildren.