With everyday events bombarding us with what seems to be bad news compounded by bad news, fear becomes more and more of a factor in our lives. Fear is our enemy. It is meant to defeat us and at the very least immobilize our ministries and our faith. The devil can’t steal our salvation but it is the goal of the enemy to negate our purpose in life. If we let the enemy into our thoughts and have it lead us to fear, we are not going to manifest the love and light of Christ. When others look at us, do they see fear or faith? It is critical that we memorize and live this important Scripture:
Romans 8:28 “We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.”
What is fear in reality? It stands for “False Evidence Appearing Real,” and it is a complete lie from the enemy. The enemy is constantly attacking our thoughts and telling us that things will never work out. So many people have contacted me thinking that they will be the next statistic for a life-threatening disease or are concerned about violence in our cities or abroad. They have fear over their future, family, health, job status, finances and everything else. All of us give the enemy power when we allow fear to enter our mind, heart and soul! As soon as we start the “what if’s,” we are on the path to fear and despair.
Jesus is very clear in telling us not to worry but to seek Him first about all things.
Matthew 6:25-34 “Therefore, I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O men of little faith? Therefore, do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat;’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.”
When the enemy sends his arrows attacking our faith with fear, what are we to do?
1. Faith as a shield. Now more than ever, we need faith. We need to ask for it and expect it to happen. We must believe that God is protecting us against sickness and evil.
Ephesians 6:16 “Above all taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one.”
God is defending us against the evil one and sickness, but we must believe this with faith. How do we get more faith? We ask for it!
Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please him. For whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”
What is the reward? It is dependent on what God wants to give us, “according to his riches and glory.”
2. Hunger for God’s love. When we seek God, we seek to be the personification of His love. How much do we want to surrender and submit to his love?
Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.”
We are to seek to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.
1 John 4:16 “So we know and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”
It is so critical that we seek more love because it is love that drives out all fear.
1 John 4: 18 “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love.”
3. Repentance. If we are consumed by anxiety and fear we do not believe that God has our best interests at heart. When we don’t fear we can better trust in Jesus.
Psalms 27:1 “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid.”
Right now we are walking through a challenging time and we need God’s comfort more than ever.
Psalm 23:4 “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.”
What happens when we don’t feel faith but are consumed by fear? That is when we need to repent for not trusting in God. One day when I was in line for Reconciliation, I asked God what sins I should confess and I heard from the Lord, “confess that you don’t trust Me.” I was shocked and didn’t expect that word from the Lord. However, it was what I needed to get closer to Jesus. It is important to go to Reconciliation, when possible, if we feel that fear is consuming our lives. If we can’t go to Reconciliation due to isolation and unavailability, then confess to Jesus from your heart your sins, doubt and fear and ask for His healing. He will not disappoint!
4. Trust in the Lord! I love the Divine Mercy chaplet and appreciate the phrase, “Jesus, I trust in you.” Trusting in the Lord changes our attitude and gives us faith.
Psalm 115:11 “You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord! He is their help and their shield.”
We have a choice to make, either trust in God for our health and future or live in fear and anxiety. It is critical that we put our worries at the foot of the Cross. God understands that we are weak. However, it is also necessary that in our weakness we cry out to our Father, “Abba,” that we need more faith to trust in our future and that our health will be protected.
Psalm 118:6 “With the Lord on my side I do not fear. What can man do to me?”
Nothing can penetrate your faith and attitude when we believe that God is at our side!
5. Protection against attacks. Psychologists tell us that each day we have 2,000 choices we make. They are the decisions we make to bring us toward God or away from Him. The enemy wants us to doubt and fear. If you have doubt, don’t think you are alone. Nearly every saint in existence had doubts regarding their faith and had dark moments. Saint Therese of Lisieux described her doubt and fear as a “night of nothingness.” Perhaps you feel that way now. The Coronavirus and social unrest are sapping your strength and damaging your faith. Resist it! Saint Peter told us:
1 Peter 5:8 “Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
Suffering is part of our journey. The Catholic Church teaches us the benefits of “redemptive suffering.” This teaches us to share in the suffering of Christ and to offer up what we are experiencing for the souls in Purgatory or for those who are seriously ill, for those who have been victims of violence in our streets, for the sick and the dying, for your family and friends, for the Pope, clergy and all those building up the body of Christ. We know that God is perfecting us in His image and molding us through the fire of the Holy Spirit.
1 Peter 1: 6-7 “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
We are told that we, in all circumstances, need to give thanks for “this is the will for you in Christ Jesus.” The suffering we are all going through with this healthcare crisis, the financial strain, the mental anguish, the doubt, fear, questioning is all being used by Christ to build up our faith and bring us closer to Him. More than ever we need to live the words of John:
John 15: 1-5 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.”
I can feel your pain and suffering. This is the time for total surrender to Christ. He will hold us close to Him in His arms. Do not fear! Do not be afraid! These phases are mentioned 365 times in the Bible, one for each day of the week! Don’t let the enemy enter into your thoughts or mind. Resist the fear and embrace Jesus!
6. We need the gift of endurance now more than ever. It is critical that we ask the Lord for endurance. When we pray from our heart and believe that we will receive it, we will get it.
Hebrews 10:36 “For you need endurance, so that you may do the will of God and receive what is promised.”
The Lord has not abandoned you! I say it again, the Lord has not abandoned you, or your family, or your loved ones. Trust and believe in the shelter and healing of Jesus! We need endurance to receive the blessings that God has in store for His children, which is us!
7. Praise without ceasing! We are told this in Scripture that we are to pray without ceasing. I believe we are to praise without ceasing. When we do that our attitude changes from fear to faith.
Psalm 56:4-5 “When I am afraid, I put my trust in thee. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust without a fear. What can flesh do to me?”
Each day we have choices to make. When we choose to be courageous and praise God for who He is, our Savior, Protector, Deliverer and other attributes that are in your heart, our attitude changes and we have peace that passes all understanding. Praise changes our attitude from despair to hope. Think about your life and the many times God came to protect and defend you. He defended you then and He will defend you now. Instead of being in fear, turn to Jesus in praise and thanksgiving!