“Fear and worry are a sin and God tells us not to be anxious.”
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard this, I’d be a rich lady.
Although there’s truth to those words above, as with most things, it’s only part of the story.
If you’re anything like me and struggle with anxiety/fear/worry but are also a Christian, you may already feel out-of-place. Most likely hearing the above statement isn’t helpful and brings nothing but guilt and shame.
I’ve felt like an outsider in the Christian realm because worry and fear are a legitimate struggle for me and always have been.
I’ve often wondered, does this make me a defective Christian?
Maybe that’s just me.
Or maybe not?
Perhaps you’ve felt like a misfit too?
Like possibly, if they knew how much you struggle with fear you’d be thrown out with a shiny new Bible and a “READ THIS” post-it, stuck to the cover.
Can fear and faith coexist?
I have probably asked this question about one-thousand times over the span of my life…
Because I’ve consistently heard the message that if you have faith in Jesus you can’t have fear.
One or the other.
I don’t buy into that idea anymore, and you know, I don’t think God is the one selling it.
I’ve found a whole lot of freedom because I’ve let it go—the one or the other scenario.
I know what you’re going to say, “But he says do not be afraid!”
Yes, He sure does. He actually says it a lot.
But I think maybe we’ve missed something with all this fear and anxiety bashing—we’ve forgotten that fear is just an emotion.
A God-given emotion.
The truth is, you “should” feel fear. You’d be really weird if you didn’t. Just saying…
It’s not that we shouldn’t ever feel fear… we’re just not supposed to obey it.
I think these two things get confused.
I believe fear and faith coexist—one drives us to the other. We feel fear, but we can choose God’s truth.
Help my unbelief
I’m sure you’ve heard that fear is really just unbelief in disguise.
In the ninth chapter of Mark, we see this truth play out. A father comes to see Jesus about healing his son that was possessed; “If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
Jesus answered that all things are possible to those that believe.
The father replied:
“…Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.” Mark 9:24
We can have faith in Jesus and fear of the unknown—to cry out and admit that we are unsure does not negate the faith that we do have.
I don’t recall Jesus telling the father that he was a big sinner because of his fearful unbelief.
No, He actually rewarded the admittance of his fear by fulfilling his request to increase his faith when he healed his son.
God knew what an enormous struggle this would be for so many people. This is why he says to not be afraid so often—not to condemn, but to encourage.
So, how can fear and faith exist together?
When I look at faith and fear in my life, I don’t necessarily see one or the other; I see more of a balancing act.
I have both. One may just be bigger than the other at any given moment.
And yes, one will eventually win out in the end.
But I promise you this: just because fear won out today, doesn’t mean you are any less of a Christian or a child of God.
Berating ourselves for our perceived failure and lack of faith does nothing but bring guilt. When we hear a persistent message that true Christians “shouldn’t fear,” we’re falling hook, line, and sinker for a lie. In reality, admitting how much we fear is where we gain our strength and find help in time of need.
I no longer buy into the thinking that Christians “shouldn’t” fear. That’s silly.
We will fear. We’re human.
The question isn’t, are you fearful? But where are you taking your fear? Whom are you seeking for help?
When God directs us to be “strong and courageous,”(Joshua 1:9) it’s not because you need to be a superhero and never feel afraid or anxious.
It’s because He knows we need reminding of the fact that in the fear we can choose faith.
When we’re teetering on the tight rope where fear is to one side and faith is to the other, realign your footing and cry out to the one that helps our unbelief.
Jesus loves the anxious too
He died for the worrier, the fearful, the anxious and the controller, just as much as anyone else.
If you struggle with fear or worry, remember the father that pleaded for his son’s life:
“I believe, help my unbelief.”
He acknowledged his belief and his fear in the same breath. You can too.
Instead of focusing on your battle with fear and your perceived lack of faith, acknowledge that you do believe, you’re just struggling at this moment.
We’re not defective Christians because we feel fear, we’re humans that need encouragement to lean into the side of faith, leaving the rest up to him.
As always, friend, thank you for stopping by,