Are you fearful today? It seems like the phrase “unprecedented event” has been used hundreds of times within the last few weeks. With our newsfeeds filled with death statistics, and significant personal losses, fear is on the rise. No matter your age, ethnicity, gender, or income demographic—nearly every person on the globe right now is being affected by what some are calling the “silent enemy.” Whether it’s young moms fearful for their children’s future or people afraid to leave their homes, we’re living in a world that’s sending out fear-producing shock waves. And right now, many of these fears are legitimate.
When your heart is overwhelmed with fear, when terror breathes down your neck, hearing the counsel to “just trust God” can seem unrealistic and unsympathetic. But intentionally moving your heart to the place of trust is the safest and most reasonable thing you can do.
My fears may be different from yours, but I think in some sense we all grapple with fear—and today perhaps more than at any other time in our lives. So, when I encourage you to “trust God” I truly don’t mean to sound trite or indifferent to a legitimate cause for concern. I know it’s hard right now to grasp a firm hold on trust.
Trusting God isn’t easy. It requires something, and it’s a hard choice. But it’s a choice that’s easier to make with a weighty bit of knowledge. I’ve dealt with fear a bit throughout my life, so, in case someone might need this today, here are some truths I’ve found helpful:
Five Not-So-Easy Ways to Trust God When Paralyzed by Fear
1. Trust in God is developed through knowing His character.
The challenge when scrolling through the daily newsfeed is to view it all from an accurate perspective. The newsfeed—or my circumstances—can lie to me and tell me that God is either not good or not powerful. But 2 Corinthians 10:3–5 challenges us to “take every thought captive” so our thoughts line up in obedience to God’s truth.
When I remind myself of God’s faithfulness, who He has revealed Himself to be throughout history and in my own life, it settles my heart. The best way to get to know Him is by learning what He’s like through His Word, learning from others who walk closely with Him, and by spending time connecting with Him in prayer.
As you build a history of walking with God, it provides you with the knowledge of His character that sustains you when fear threatens to rob you of all security.
2. Trust in God requires acknowledging the reality of the battle.
Much of the world is living in fear, aware that the death toll is rising as the “unseen enemy,” Covid-19, spreads. Psalm 56 is a passage that has the potential to counter our anxieties. The first verse honestly assesses the situation, and the rest of the chapter affirms why we have no reason to fear (when our ultimate trust is placed in God).
But the reference to an attacker who “oppresses” is a literal and frightening reality right now for many of us.
The Psalm opens with a lament: “All day long an attacker oppresses me.” You may not fear the same type of attack described here, but do you feel like you’re holding your breath dreading the next “bad” thing that might be coming? The answer isn’t to ignore the danger, to deny the reality of real dangers, or to pretend we don’t experience terror. But we also need to accept (and place our trust in) the reality of God’s involvement in the afflictions we face.
I must actively choose to grab on to the truths that fuel my trust. The last thing I need, is to ignore the fact that I’m in a spiritual battle daily, cave in to fear, or forget that God is trustworthy.
3. Trust in God deepens as I recognize His intimate involvement in my life.
I must continually remind myself that He sees, He knows, and He cares.
Verse 8 is a confession of God’s loving care: “You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?”.
God is intimately aware of all that is coming against you . . . none of it has taken Him by surprise. He is not blind to your pain, or indifferent to the suffering that is happening throughout the world today. I find great comfort in knowing that He is a God of details and by reminding myself that not one hair falls without His knowledge.
Just because we are experiencing great loss and affliction does not mean that God does not care.
4. Trust in God flows from the knowledge that He is “for me.”
I love this precious promise tucked into this strategic chapter: “This I know, that God is for me” (v. 9).
Did you hear that? Let that sink in a minute.
Now, with that truth in mind, check out Romans 8:31:
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?”
It’s almost like the apostle Paul (inspired by the Holy Spirit) is saying, “Look, it’s a no-brainer. Weigh what you’re fearful of, in comparison to God’s commitment to you, and ask yourself how the two sides compare! Face the angry mob, the empty bank balance, the prodigal child, the unknowns . . . and with this knowledge, remind yourself to Whom you belong and Who is committed to be on your side.”
The fearful circumstances may bottom out one side of the scale, but if you could place God on the other side . . . the scale would explode!
God’s commitment to be “for you” outweighs anything that comes against you. God being “for you” doesn’t mean that you won’t face opposition, get cancer, loose a loved one, or guarantee plenty of funds for a comfortable life.
But it does mean you can trust Him to lead you through the opposition, to provide what you need in the midst of cancer or loss, to be your safe place no matter what.
Psalm 56 also poses an important question:
“In God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (v. 11).
Yes, man can bring physical harm, emotional pain, even torture and death—but for thousands of Christian martyrs, those things do not rob them of their commitment to Christ. Trusting in God delivers them from the fear of death.
He is worthy of that kind of trust, but how do I live that out when my heart is racing, my stomach churning, and my windpipe closes? We find the answer in the next verse:
“I must perform my vows to you, O God; I will render thank offerings to you” (v. 12).
5. Trust in God is solidified through offering thanks.
My vows are a voluntary expression of praise and gratitude to God—also known as thanksgiving. Wow. This is what my response is supposed to be in the face of all my fear . . . thankfulness.
There is more to say about this than can be covered in a blog post, but let me encourage you to take a peek at these instructions:
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess. 5:18).
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness” (James 1:2–3).
How can I offer thanksgiving for the fearful afflictions? For the scary unknown? Only by remembering to whom I belong and through putting my trust in His faithful character.
When I lift up praise and thanksgiving to God, I am demonstrating that I trust Him to “keep my feet from falling” and that I trust His character and His ways—no matter what. I am thanking Him for being my Deliverer, and I am pressing into the path of faith He has carved out for me today—walking before God in the light of life (Ps. 56:13).
What fear is paralyzing you today?
How will you counter those fears?
(Portions of this post were adapted from my original post on the True Woman blog.)