Freedom from Fear
Fear is running rampant in our society today, and in the church. It is one of the enemy’s greatest tools to plant seeds of discouragement, doubt, depression, disillusionment and to disable us from sharing the Good News of our Good God. If you struggle with fear, anxiety, worry, panic attacks, and stress you know what I mean. And, maybe you say you aren’t an anxious person, but you really love being in control of everything. Then, guess what? Fear is an underlying cause of that, too.
In fact, a well-known psychologist said that all emotions stem from either Love or Fear. From love come positive emotions such as joy, happiness, empathy, compassion, kindness, trust, faith, self-control, honor, confidence, respect, forgiveness, connection, wonder, acceptance, and contentment.
From fear come negative emotions like depression, hopelessness, disappointment, insecurity, doubt, disrespect, hostility, resentment, uncertainty, distress, control, worry, anxiety, uneasiness, stress, isolation, panic, disbelief, anger, envy and bitterness to name a few.
Sound familiar? 2 Timothy 1:7 says: "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." A mind set on the Spirit is life and peace (Romans 8:6).
Fear does not come from God. Love does. The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy. And, he often uses fear.
I have struggled with worry and anxiety most of my life. I even wrote a book about building trust and overcoming worry. Even so, it can still get the best of me. Like recently in the middle of the night as I shared in a post a few weeks ago. Up, mind swirling, in a cycle of worry. I grabbed my Bible and God brought me to Psalm 118:5-6 “In my distress, I prayed to the Lord, and the Lord answered me and set me free. The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear.” I prayed. He answered. He set me free. He is for me. I do not have to fear.
Why is that so hard to believe sometimes?
As I studied last week, I kept coming back to the phrase, “In my distress, I called out to God. I prayed to God.” My study took me to Psalm 18.
Don’t you love how God reinforces a message? At the WorshipTogether conference this past week, every single speaker spoke in one way or another about fear, anxiety, and panic attacks. Not because they were given a theme for the event, they were not. God had placed these messages on their hearts because our mental health is in crisis these days. In fact, one of the speakers also read from Psalm 18, right where I had been studying, about a time in her life when she had cried out to God, and He rescued her from panic attacks brought on by fear.
As we look at Psalm 18, it begins by reminding us of who God is.
The Lord is…
Our place of safety,
It also reminds us of what God does when we call out, cry out, and trust in Him in the middle of the valley of the shadow of death, when fear attempts to defeat us, we do not have to be afraid.
In verse 6, it says again, “In my distress, I cried out to the Lord; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from his sanctuary, my cry to him reached his ears.”
And, do you know what God does for us in that moment?
He reaches down to us
He rescues us
He draws us out of deep waters
He leads us to a place of safety
He rewards us
He restores us
He lights up our darkness
He arms us with strength
He makes our way perfect
He makes us surefooted
He enables us to stand
He trains our hands for battle
He strengthens our arms
He gives us victory
He supports us all along the way
And, he keeps us from slipping.
Darren Whitehead from Church of the City talked about Midnight Worship. He read from Acts when Paul and Silas had been beaten with rods and chained in prison. They would have been bleeding and in severe pain. Surrounded by darkness. But at midnight, they began to cry out in their distress – to pray and sing hymns to God. Their voices lifted to heaven and ringing out through the prison. Suddenly, the prison was shaken to its foundation, the doors flew open, their chains fell off as well as every single prisoner around them. They were set free!
We can all find ourselves in a midnight kind of place. When uncertainty creeps into our relationships, jobs, finances, health, ministry and very soul. It is then that we have a choice. We can let fear, worry, anxiety and efforts to control everything over take us. Or we can choose like Paul and Silas to not be afraid. But, instead choose to lift up our midnight worship, to call out, pray out, and sing out to the Lord.
Psalm 18 ends with “For this, O Lord, I will praise you among the nations; I will sing praises to your name.”
To the God who is so good. He is able to save and deliver and heal and restore anything that He wants to. I may be going through a storm, but I won't go down because He can break every chain and set me free. I will sing praises to the solid rock on which I stand. I will run out of darkness and sing a little louder because fear is a liar. This is how I fight my battles and see a victory. Get ready. It’s time to worship.*
*The last paragraph is compiled from lyrics from the following songs. This is a great place to begin singing praises to His name:
God is So Good by Pat Barrett
Rattle by Elevation
Jireh by Maverick City
Break Every Chain by Tasha Cobbs
Where the Spirit of the Lord is by Hillsong
My Hope is Built on Nothing Less by Edward Mote
Glorious Day by Passion
Raise a Hallelujah by Bethel
Fear is a Liar by Zach Williams
This is How I Fight my Battles by Upper Room
See a Victory by Elevation
Getting Ready by Maverick City and Upper Room
It's Time to Worship by Chris McClarney