Faith vs. Fear

The 23rd Psalm is one of our most familiar scriptures. But there’s a line in that passage which had me confused for a long time. It says, “…though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” What does that even mean? How can you NOT fear evil? Evil is mean and hateful and ugly and painful! Evil comes in all sizes and shapes. So, how can you NOT fear evil? How does faith overcome fear? Besides, fear is natural and faith is not. Fear is easy and faith is not. So, how do you have enough faith in the face of evil to not be afraid?

Like many of you, I’ve had many scary things happen in my life. I’ve had gut-wrenching fear grip my heart to the point I could hardly breathe. One of those moments was while my son was in the Navy. He called late one night and led with, “Mom, please pray. We’re being shot at.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! He was supposed to be safe and sound on his ship. Fear overcame me in a way I’d never experienced. Where was he, and who was shooting? And why? Turns out, he was stateside and had just left the ship to run errands. There were armed men lying in wait for sailors to cash their checks and head back to their ship. One of the bullets actually ripped the sleeve of his shirt. Fortunately, they only took their wallets and fled. He was safe, but for how long? Could he ever safely leave the ship again? Would I ever go to sleep again? The fear and uncertainty of his safety were very real.

My response was to start praying immediately. I John 4:18 tells us only God, through His perfect love, can drive out fear. Only faith in the Creator offers a peace that passes understanding, and only God loves my son more than me. He is the only One who could actually be there and protect him.

When uncertainty overwhelms you, or the evils in life haunt you, when you have no control and feel like you don’t have enough faith to handle it, start by using the faith you have. It takes practice and discipline to give God your fears, but the more often you lean on His power and promises, the easier it becomes. When you exercise your faith it grows, and God can push fear aside for you. Faith can conquer fear. The words to one my favorite hymns say, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.” He truly can be trusted to handle whatever fear may come your way. In the midst of whatever uncertainty surrounds you, turn your eyes toward Jesus and He will help you conquer your fears.

– Phyllis Brockermeyer

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