It only took one terrifyingly turbulent flight to convince me that staying on the ground was better than being in the air. So much better that it took years before I was willing to go anywhere that required air travel.
But flying was just one of my many fears.
As a child, I was afraid of the dark, bugs, heights, and rejection. Then I grew up and realized that although bugs and the dark weren’t that scary there were plenty of other things that were … eventually, I was diagnosed with agitated anxiety.
There are more than a dozen verses in Scripture that speak to God’s children being strong and courageous.
Me … strong and courageous. Not even close!
That was a little over a decade ago when…
- Someone I deeply loved rejected me.
- Rev suffered from an undiagnosed illness for over a year. Although, the doctors determined that heart surgery was the only thing that could save him … we were told not to expect it to be successful.
- My mom went home to heaven.
- And our first grandchild was born at 24 weeks, weighing 1lb. 9oz.
Our friends started calling us – the “high maintenance” prayer family.
My worst fears were coming to pass and I had to a choice to make … either run to God or pull the covers over my head and give up.
Giving up didn’t seem like an option. So, I grabbed my Bible and I prayed. Again and again and again.
Each time I gave a problem to God, He gave me enough strength for that moment. Not a magical infusion of strength and courage that made me fearless, but enough to make it through one moment at a time.
That’s really all we need, isn’t it? Enough strength and courage for this moment?
If you struggle with fear, I’d love to share some things God has taught me to do that help me when I’m tempted to fall back into that place of fear and anxiety.
How to Replace Fear with Strength and Courage
1. Decide that You Want to be Strong and Courageous – Living with fear became a bad habit for me. I had to make up my mind that I no longer wanted to live that way … that I wanted to have strength and courage.
“Fear is 100% dependent on you for its survival.” ~ Steve Maraboli
2. Admit You’re Afraid – There will always be something to be fear. It’s the nature of the world in which you and I live. Everyone is afraid sometimes. In fact, it’s not always a bad thing. It can keep us from putting ourselves in harm’s way. So, it’s important for me to admit and identify my fear, refuse to spin on it, and face it head-on.
“The first step forward is to admit your fear, then you can take the next step to conquer it.” ~ Ken Poirot
3. Analyze Your Fear – Once you’ve identified your fear, remember…
Fear is an emotional response to a perceived threat.
So, I’m asking myself if my “perceived threat” is real and true or if it is simply something I feel. Is it based on facts and information or rumor and speculation? Is it something I can change or control? How is it affecting my life and my relationships? Have a talked to God about it?
You have received the Holy Spirit, and He lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what istrue. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what He teaches is true—it is not a lie.1 John 2:27
4. Pray and Ask – Paul wrote, “Never stop praying.” I Thessalonians 5:17 In all circumstances, whatever is going on in the world or in my head … I want to take it to Jesus and ask Him to give me His peace. You and I can trust His promises.
I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.John 14:27
5. Talk to a Strong and Courageous Mentor – I’ve had several times in my life when I’ve gone to a Christian counselor because I needed someone to help me look at my circumstances with fresh eyes and help me see it from a different perspective. I’ve also asked friends to talk with me about the ways God has gotten them through times of fear.
Talk to a counselor. Or ask a friend to tell you how they were able to get through a fearful time.
As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.Proverbs 27:17
6. Don’t Borrow Fear from Others – If the news and your friend’s posts on Facebook bring your fears to the surface. Take a break. I’ve learned to turn off my television and take breaks from social media so I can avoid the “ain’t it awful” out there.
My head is always spinning with thoughts. I want to remember that I get to choose what those thoughts are about. You can even call it taking every thought captive…
We break down every thought and proud thing that puts itself up against the wisdom of God. We take hold of every thought and make it obey Christ.2 Corinthians 10:5 (NLV)
7. Stay Focused on the Present – Why do “what if” thoughts rarely have happy endings? Worry and fear are close cousins. I don’t want to give in to worry or allow fear to rob me of what God wants for me right now. So, with His help, I want to focus on today, change what I can, and entrust tomorrow to His mercy and grace.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.Philippians 4:6
8. Keep a Prayer Journal and Gratitude List – When I remember the countless times and ways I know God has helped me in the past in addition to those I can only imagine … I am more likely to count on Him to help me and give me what I need when I’m afraid today.
So, I keep journals and lists and memories close to remind me of His unfailing love and bountiful blessings.
Don’t be afraid of them! Just remember what the Lord your God did…Deuteronomy 7:18
9. Live Your Life – Even if we have to do it afraid, it’s important to get up and live, trusting that God will provide for every need.
The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust Him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.Psalm 28:7
10. Hold On to His Promises – Carry note cards with quotes and verses that remind you to have courage.
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.Isaiah 41:10
When my worry is great within me, Your comfort brings joy to my soul.Psalm 94:19 (NLV)
But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” He said. “Take courage. I am here!”Matthew 14:27
God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So [I] will not fear…Psalm 46:1–2a
I prayed to the Lord, and He answered me. He freed me from all my fears.Psalm 34:4
“I am leaving __________ with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”John 14:27
I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate [me] from God’s love.Romans 8:38
I praise God for what He has promised.Psalm 56:4
I trust in God, so why should I be afraid?
You and I can trust God to replace our fear with strength and courage.
All of the fear I talked about at the beginning of this post … God has redeemed it. He has given me freedom.
Oh sure, I have fearful thoughts occasionally … but I’ve learned where to take them. I trust God to replace my fear-filled thoughts with His promises.
Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep His promise.Hebrews 10:23
So, I will continue to faithfully work through this list of ways to replace my fear with strength and courage … not because of anything I will think, do, or say but because I have placed my faith in the One who has promised to give me everything I need—even when I’m afraid.
I’m praying for you today and asking God to give you whatever you need to replace your fear with His perfect love. Love that drives out fear. (1 John 4:18)
Let’s talk: What fears has God helped you past? How has He helped you by giving you the strength you needed to do something you feared?
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