What fears tend to keep you in their grip? Be honest! ALL of us have fears! In fact, those of us in the military context often have the same fears our civilian counterparts have, but they are often swirling in a uniquely complicating vortex. For instance, we may fear losing our loved one. However, the context for this common fear can be amplified because our loved one who is in the military is deployed to Afghanistan, or flies fighters & lands them on carriers, or is a special operator, or regularly works with explosives because she is an EOD specialist. When fear-inducing circumstances are constantly in our face, & those we love are consistently in harm’s way, how can we practically experience peace as Christians? How can we break free, or stay free of persistent, crippling, joy-robbing, fears?
Three Fear-Expelling Realities from Psalm 139
Meditating on God’s omniscience, omnipresence, and great sovereignty as depicted in Psalm 139:1-18 can expel fear & bring great comfort to our hearts. The first reality that we are reminded of from Psalm 139 is of God’s all-surpassing and perfect knowledge. In verses 1-4, the psalmist writes about the intimate, personal knowledge that God has for him. All of his movements, thoughts, and words are known to his Heavenly Father before they are even brought about. The reality of God’s perfect and intimate knowledge should encourage us, since God knows the very thoughts that are troubling us, when we stir or rise in the night, and even knows the prayers we may utter for help before they are on our tongue.
The second reality that we can meditate on from Psalm 139 is of God’s continual and abiding presence. Verses 5-12 make it crystal clear that God is in any and every location. Neither we or those we love, can escape from His continual and abiding presence. This should give us great hope and comfort as we meditate on the fact that God is present not only with us, but that God is present to bless and protect those we love, even if they are thousands of miles away at their place of duty.
The third reality to meditate on from Psalm 139 is of God’s sovereign and loving involvement. Not only is God lovingly involved and present in every location, but He is also lovingly involved in the details in the lives of His people & in all of creation. Verses 13-16 detail the amazing way God is involved in the creation of human life, and states that every single day is already known and planned perfectly by the Father before even one of them comes into existence. We can rest assured that absolutely nothing will occur to us or our loved one that is outside of God’s sovereign and loving plan. As we meditate on the intimate knowledge, abiding presence, and sovereign involvement of our Great God, our fear should give way to great praise, awe, and trust of our King who lovingly reigns on High.
Overcoming fear is not an automatic endeavor and knowing truths from Psalm 139 will not act as a miraculous panacea. We will find that it requires much effort, empowered by God’s supernatural strength, to move from fear to loving trust! In my next post, I will write about how to be victorious in the battle of our mind & detail how to take our thoughts captive for God’s glory. In the meantime, we can all be encouraged that God did not give us a spirit of fear or timidity, but rather one of “power, of love, and of self-discipline” (2 Tim. 1:7).
Ways to Reflect, Change and Grow in Light of These Truths
Memorize Psalm 139:1-18! God’s Word is a powerful antidote to fear. Hiding God’s Word in our heart pays dividends (Ps 119:11). Better yet, grab a friend & memorize it in a community! Having each other’s support, prayers, encouragement & accountability is a blessing on multiple fronts!
Get a copy of the pamphlet, “Fear: Breaking Its Grip” and read it. Lou Priolo does a phenomenal job of outlining seven characteristics of sinful fear. He then gives twelve guidelines for conquering crippling fear all in an easy & quick read that will re-orient our worship & restore peace & joy.
Andrew Selle, in his article entitled “The Bridge Over Troubled Waters: Overcoming Crippling Fear by Faith and Love” from The Journal of Biblical Counseling will help us name our fears, reverse our fears (by naming the idols on the flipside of the fear), pray about our desires, surrender our desires, and love God and others no matter the cost. This valuable resource gives us a birds-eye view into the life of someone who biblically overcame her crippling fears, and will encourage us to apply the Scriptures to our own struggles with hope.
Consider reading Ch#6 entitled, “Fear: Day & Night In Its Cold Grip” in “Ministering to Military Women: Biblical Help & Hope. In this resource I juxtapose secular solutions to fear with the Word of God. As an added benefit, I provide fourteen assignments to use in the fight against fear that can be used personally in your own life, or in your ministry to others.
Listen to the 2016 seminar entitled, “From Sinful Fear to Godly Fear.” This seminar will equip you to move towards greater love, peace & trust of God in the power of the gospel & union with Christ. A free audio of this seminar can be found here: https://www.aureliamsmith.com/resources