With our newsfeeds filled with unprecedented bloodshed and horror, fear is on the rise. Whether it's young moms fearful for their children's future or people afraid to get on an airplane, we're living in a world that's sending out fear-producing shock waves.
You may not be aware of the rising level of public fear, but perhaps you're struggling with a fear closer to home. Are you experiencing your very own personal "terror attack"? I've dealt with fear a bit, and I want to share some truths I've found helpful.
When your heart is overwhelmed with fear, when terror breathes down your neck, hearing the counsel to "just trust God" can seem unrealistic and unsympathetic. But intentionally moving your heart to a place of trust is the safest and most reasonable and realistic thing you can do.
My fears may be different from yours, but I think in some sense we all fear making wrong choices, missing God's will, and the pain of conflict with others. And then there's the awareness that the evil one seeks to devour us and our loved ones.
Trusting God isn't easy. It requires something, and it's a hard choice. But it's a choice that's easier to make with a weighty bit of knowledge.
Five Not-So-Easy Ways to Trust God More
1. Trust in God is developed through knowing His character.
The challenge when scrolling through the daily newsfeed is to view it all from an accurate perspective. The newsfeed—or my circumstances—can lie to me and tell me that God is either not good or not powerful. But 2 Corinthians 10:3–5 challenges us to "take every thought captive" so our thoughts line up in obedience to God's truth.
When I remind myself of God's faithfulness, who He has revealed Himself to be throughout history and in my own life, it settles my heart. The best way to get to know Him is by learning what He's like through His Word, learning from others who walk closely with Him, and by spending time connecting with Him in prayer. As you build a history of walking with God, it provides you with the knowledge of His character that sustains you when that terror attack comes.
2. Trust in God requires acknowledging the reality of the battle.
Much of the world is living in fear, aware the next terror attack may be unleashed in their neighborhood today. Psalm 56 is a passage that helps me counter such anxiety. The first verse honestly assesses the situation, and the rest of the chapter affirms we have no reason to fear as long as our trust is in God. This verse is a literal reality for many of our brothers and sisters across the globe:
All day long an attacker oppresses me (v. 1).
You may not fear that kind of terror attack, but you may be holding your breath dreading the next "bad" thing. The answer isn't to ignore the danger, to deny the reality of opposition or hostility, or to pretend we don't experience terror. But we also need to accept (and place our trust in) the reality of God's involvement in the oppression we face.
I must actively choose to grab on to the truths that fuel my trust. The last thing I need is to ignore the fact that I'm in a spiritual battle daily, cave in to fear, or forget that God is trustworthy.
3. Trust in God deepens as I recognize His intimate involvement in my life.
I must continually remind myself that He sees, He knows, and He cares.
You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book? (v. 8).
God is intimately aware of all that is coming against you . . . none of it has taken Him by surprise. I find great comfort in knowing He is a God of details and by reminding myself that not one hair falls without His knowledge.
4. Trust in God flows from the knowledge that He is "for me."
I love this precious promise tucked into this strategic chapter:
This I know, that God is for me (v. 9).
Did you hear that? Let that sink in a minute.
Now, with that truth in mind, check out Romans 8:31:
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?
It's almost like the apostle Paul (inspired by the Holy Spirit) is saying, "Look, it's a no-brainer. Weigh what you're fearful of in comparison to God's commitment to you, and ask yourself how the two sides compare! Face the angry mob, the empty bank balance, the prodigal child, the unknowns . . . and with this knowledge, remind yourself to whom you belong and who is committed to be on your side."
The fearful circumstances may bottom out one side of the scale, but if you could place God on the other side . . . the scale would explode!
God's commitment to be "for you" outweighs anything that comes against you. God being "for you" doesn't mean you won't face opposition, get cancer, lose a loved one, or have plenty of funds for a comfortable life.
But it does mean you can trust Him to lead you through the opposition, to provide what you need in the midst of cancer or loss, to be your safe place no matter what.
Psalm 56 also poses an important question:
In God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me? (v. 11).
Yes, man can bring physical harm, emotional pain, even torture and death—but for thousands of Christian martyrs, those things do not rob them of their commitment to Christ. Trusting in God delivers them from the fear of death.
He is worthy of that kind of trust, but how do I live that out when my heart is racing, my stomach churning, and my windpipe closes? The answer is in the next verse:
I must perform my vows to you, O God; I will render thank offerings to you (v. 12).
5. Trust in God is solidified through offering thanks.
My vows are a voluntary expression of praise and gratitude to God—also known as thanksgiving. Wow. This is what my response is supposed to be in the face of all my fear . . . thankfulness.
There is more to say about this than can be covered in a blog post, but let me encourage you to take a peek at these instructions:
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thess. 5:18).
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness (James 1:2–3).
How can I offer thanksgiving for the fearful opposition I'm facing? For the scary unknown? Only by remembering to whom I belong and putting my trust in His faithful character.
When I lift up praise and thanksgiving to God, I am demonstrating that I trust Him to "keep my feet from falling" and that I trust His character and His ways—no matter what. I am thanking Him for being my Deliverer, and I am pressing into the path of faith He has carved out for me today—walking before God in the light of life (Ps. 56:13).
What fears popped up in your newsfeed today?
What personal "terror attack" is paralyzing you?
How will you counter those fears?