The moment that the frightening thoughts entered my head and I failed to take them captive was barely discernible. Sins of the mind often begin with a small chink in the armor or a distracted glance away from vigilant watch over the heart. The tempter slithers in with subtlety and craftiness, we yield, and peace of mind begins deteriorating. Sin only grows if not met with a fight, and I was soon overwhelmed with fear about the future.
Courageous Women of the Word
What did Sarah, the Hebrew midwives, Deborah, Jael, Abigail, and the Virgin Mary have in common? They were brave. In some cases, heroic.
Sarah obeyed without fear despite a husband who kept putting her life in jeopardy in favor of his own. The Hebrew midwives saved the newborn baby boys they were ordered to kill, fearing God more than Pharaoh. Abigail had the guts to approach an offended king for the sake of her foolish husband and then dared to correct King David’s revengeful plan. Used as a tool for God’s justice, Jael lured a killer into her home and drove a tent peg through his head.
Stand Firm in the Faith
The Christian life requires a lot of courage. Not only do we meet with ongoing conflicts from the world, we also have danger, sorrow, sufferings, and temptations that are specific to our own individual lives. Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward, Job tells us. Earth is a stage of conflict, and no terrified, wimpy-minded woman will survive on this battlefield. God expects us to intentionally put on holy armor so that we will endure to the end as more than conquerors.
Consider the progression of fear: This relentless tyrant robs us of joy, intrudes on the peace of our souls, and leads us to worry and anxiety, ultimately throwing the soul into unrest and unbelief. Then it paralyzes us in our duties. If we are feeling the punches of fear that are robbing us of comfort in our faith, how do we shake off these shackles and get free for hard battle?
Before fear comes for us, we go after it with the violence of Jael. Here are a few tent pegs to use in our fight.
Keep Faith Alive and Living
But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life (Jude 20–21).
Remember that you are under the loving eye and hand of God. Brighten your hope and trust in Him daily by examining your heart, confessing sin, and worshiping Him for His all-sufficiency. Commit your soul to Him for pardon and renewing grace. It is living, active faith that gives supernatural courage. Fear cannot survive in the atmosphere of faith. It is a shield of protection against fiery darts of evil (Eph. 6:16).
Considering the covenant of grace and the promises of the gospel means we become reacquainted with truths that are a refuge and support. During temptation to fear, keep your mind fixed upon some promise that is most suited to the present danger, letting it abide in your heart and whisper to your soul.
Jude 20 also tells us to pray in the Holy Spirit. And pursuing a spirit of prayer is far different than “saying your prayers.” When a Christian woman addresses the throne of God with earnestness, faith, and her eyes on Christ our Mediator and Advocate, she receives renewed strength for the battle and courage in the midst of terrors. There are many times that I’ve gone to the mercy seat weak and trembling and weighed down under fears and then risen up with assurance, calm, and comfort.
This type of prayer requires effort. But it’s a labor that yields countless dividends. If you’re interested in growing in this spiritual discipline, here are a few books (here, here, and here) that God has been pleased to use in my life. And Tim Challies wrote a brief and useful article on this topic that can help get you started.
Put off the Old Self
Ephesians 4:22 tells us to put off the old man. We may not often think of fear as being a product of the old man. It tends to be one of those “respectable” sins that we tolerate until it gives us more trouble than usual. But indulging in fear instead of exercising our faith when it’s under pressure is a form of self-love. If we want divine courage and resolution, we must be dead to the things of the flesh.
Keep Your Eyes on God’s Sovereignty
Your most troubling fears are under God’s overruling power. The universe is His throne, and He is directing all things and working all things according to the counsel of His will.
Behold Him as your God and learn to see Him as sovereign over all events big or small. Does weather frighten you? Who holds the thunder? Who directs the flashes of lightning and every blast of wind or fire?
Does cultural and political chaos stir you to fear? Psalm 46 tells us the nations will rage, but we stand firm because the Lord of hosts is with us.
Do personal dangers like slander threaten your good name or your family? Is your health in jeopardy? Remember that all these afflictions are servants of our Lord Jesus and He will allow none of these to linger beyond His appointed time for them. And He will deal tenderly with you in the midst of them with a gentle rod and staff.
No enemy, no persecution, no slander, no illness, no political or social tragedy can move or act without His permission.
The Bible tells us repeatedly to remember God’s past deeds of faithfulness. So recall your past experiences of danger or sorrow and how God carried you under the shelter of His wings. He has made your crooked way straight countless times, He has led you in paths of safety when danger has been all around; He has been a strong tower and your shield. Our most trusted friends are ones who have proved themselves faithful to us. Christ has proven the best of faithful friends. Thus we have nothing to fear.
Obey the Command
We are commanded not to fear (Josh. 10:8; 1 Chron. 22:13; Ps. 118:6; Jer. 17:8; Matt. 10:28). The Lord knows how susceptible we are to fear or He wouldn’t have told us so often to be courageous. We have feeble natures that can become frightened at every appearance of danger of suffering. Yet for a woman to give herself over to the tyranny of fear is contrary to the very spirit and design of the gospel (2 Tim. 1:7). We are the daughters of God, and it is below our dignity to yield to the slavery of fear. A courageous spirit in the midst of dangers is what we are called to.
Grace Will Lead Us Home
Many of us are facing real dangers today. A heart and mind full of confidence in God establishes our feet on solid ground. It motivates us to keep busy at the duties He’s assigned us in our daily lives. It preserves the soul in calmness, even though troubles are always looming ahead. It will make the heaviest sorrows tolerable. And like Jael and others, His grace can enable us to have composure, strength, and lion-hearted bravery even when danger is so near that it’s in our own tent.