I was afraid last week, for a number of reasons:
- I had a friend call me, and I immediately feared that he was calling me to tell me that his wife had contracted the coronavirus
- My pregnant wife was having a cramp, and I was afraid that something was seriously wrong with the baby
- During my trip to the grocery store, I feared that I might become sick
- I had a phone call in which I shared fears about some concerning choices a mutual friend is making
Living in the middle of a worldwide pandemic is surfacing my fears and worries in ways that I have to address—and not just with practical solutions. Can you relate? Maybe you’re living in a situation like underemployment. Yes, it’s wise to start implementing crisis financial plans, but that alone doesn’t resolve fear. What does help? Having others walk with us, pointing us toward God.
If you were that friend, what would you have told me last week? As I reflect on those fears, I see five truths that we can point each other to. If and when fear assaults me again, here is how a friend could best help me emerge from fear and reset my faith:
The Person of God
First, you can help me by pointing me to the person of God: his nature. Everything in our lives changes; but God alone doesn’t change (James 1:17). This is one reason why God is described as a rock (Psalm 18):
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
The same stability is true of Jesus: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8). And he will reign forever and ever. Tell me that God won’t change—his person, his power, his love—even if my situation does change.
The Plan of God
Second, I need your reminder about God’s plan. Yes, God’s ways are “higher than our ways” (Isa. 55:8-9) and we shouldn’t presume to know all that he’s up to. In fact, God welcomes us to lament to him and gives us a language to do this when we experience hard moments under his plan.
But his plan also has the long game in mind: to arrange every millisecond of my life and every molecule in my world to maximize his glory.
God is the one who makes what was intended for evil turn out for good (Gen. 50:20). He “makes the woeful heart to sing.” He rewards our “little while” of suffering by giving us an unreasonably great reward (1 Pet. 1:6-7). And he will win every victory in the end. Whatever happens, it won’t be an accident since God has already “written every one” of my days (Ps. 139:16).
The Promises of God
Third, please point me to the promises of God. My Bible is littered with them; but in the deep end of emotion, I may not be quick to bring them to mind.
- “I am with you”
- “I am your God”
- “I will strengthen you”
- “I will help you”
- “I will uphold you with my righteous right hand”
Even if some of my fear-fanning “what ifs” come to be, God’s promises will be there to face them.
The Presence of God
“The two most common things that we’re tempted to trust other than God are people and money.… People, as much as they might love you and care for you, are limited creatures themselves. They can never be fully depended on.… Our wealth is fleeting. … And God says, ‘Yes, that’s what happens with money’.”
People may not be there for me; money may stop protecting me. But God is “an ever-present help in trouble” (Ps. 46).
Prayers to God
Fifth, you can help me pray to God, since God wants to hear my fears.
- The second most comforting thing a friend can ask me is: “How can I pray for you?”
- The most comforting thing a friend can ask me is: “Can we pray right now?”
Some of our fears are more reasonable than others. But God wants to hear all of what we have to share with him—so that he can meet us right where we are at. God’s throne isn’t distant, and it isn’t one of judgment any longer. So “let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16).
Fighting Fear with Friends
Fear affects us differently: some face it as an infrequent nuisance while others face it as long-time companion.
We may never rid ourselves of fear in this lifetime until we enter the kingdom where there is nothing left to fear (Rev. 21:1-8). But we still get the great privilege of having a God “who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction” (2 Cor. 1:3-4)—which means: friends sent from God still help us conquer fear.