Fear and Courage

“Therefore encourage one another with these words” (1 Thess. 4:18).    

- 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18

Having established that a failure to trust the Lord underlies anxiety, it will now be useful to look at three different kinds of fears and how we may overcome them. While different anxieties all have the same ultimate root cause, dealing with a particular manifestation of this cause may look slightly different in each situation.

Restlessness is the simple name for the first kind of anxiety. This is the state of the non-believer because he is estranged from God. Augustine gave us the only remedy for this kind of anxiety in his famous prayer from his Confessions: “Oh Lord, thou hast made us for thyself and our hearts are restless until we rest in thee.” Without belief in Jesus as Savior, no person can ever have true peace (Rom. 5:1). 

The other two anxieties are not so unique and are common among Christians. Sometimes we fear something objective and specific such as snakes or enclosed spaces. Usually, the best way to deal with these anxieties is to confront that which is feared head on and endure the presence of the object of fear, preferably with others who will encourage us to trust the Lord. Finally, many people must deal with a general anxiousness that has no obvious provocation. This is the kind of anxiety that can lead to anxiety attacks. Biochemical factors can be involved here and so medical help might be useful. Seeking the counsel of a pastor, friend, or counselor can also help us discern what may lie behind the anxiety.

Courage is the opposite of fear and no one can be courageous unless he first has fear. A courageous person acts despite being afraid; there is nothing special about doing that which he does not fear. Stimulating courage in one another is therefore a vital ministry.

You will notice that the assistance of others was encouraged when we looked at general anxiousness and specific fears. When the Lord rescued us from sin, He did not save us for a life in isolation, He bought for Himself the church with His own blood. We cannot live the Christian life alone, as Paul says, we must have relationships in which we mutually encourage each other to trust God (1 Thess. 4:13–18). Without other believers to point us to Christ, we will not defeat our anxieties.

Coram Deo

When you are afraid and feel like you cannot do something, where do you turn? Of course, we should first confess our anxieties to the Lord, but let us remember He often strengthens us to face our fears through the encouraging words and deeds of other believers. Spouses should be the chief encouragers of one another. Men need other men to support them, and women need other women. Do what you can to make your church a refuge of encouragement.

Passages for Further Study

2 Chron. 35:2
Acts 15:22–35
Rom. 1:8–15
Heb. 6:13–20

First published in Tabletalk Magazine, an outreach of Ligonier. For permissions, view our Copyright Policy.