In February of 2020, national news broadcasters began to warn Americans of a possible pandemic. By April, the Corona virus had spread from one city in China to nearly every country in the world. After only a few weeks, the deaths in New York City surpassed the number killed in the 9-11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Schools, businesses, and even churches closed their doors. So, we had to stay at home, venturing out only when our food supply required it. As followers of Christ, we needed to learn how to fight fear biblically.
Even without a pandemic fear, anxiety, and panic can overwhelm a person’s mind and heart at any time. A policeman rings the doorbell and says there has been an accident. The doctor calls with the diagnosis of cancer. A spouse announces he/she wants a divorce. The boss tells an employee he has to let her go. When we face crises like these, our hearts skip a beat, and a sense of desperation invades our minds. We find it hard just to process what is going on, let alone deal with it.
Fear and Anxiety Robs Us
When we face a crisis, fear and anxiety robs us of peace and security. It leaves us feeling empty, vulnerable, and weak. But we do not have to remain fearful because God is our Father. When we prayed to ask Jesus to save us, God adopted us into his family. He made himself responsible to love and care for us. So, when a life situation terrorizes us, we should ask for his help. And, God will act in response to our prayers, just as any good father would. We can fight fear Biblically by trusting God to care for us because he has promised to and he never fails to keep his word (Numbers 23:19).
Fight Fear by Knowing God
God Cares for His Children
Crises can trigger fear and panic because they prove how little control we have over our lives. They make us realize we need help from someone much stronger and wiser than we are. In fact, we yearn for someone like God. In order to gain any comfort from him, though, we have to know why God would concern himself with our problems. We find the answer to that question in 1 Peter 5:7. “Give all your cares to God, for he cares about you” (NLT). He cares so much he gave his Son to die for us (John 3:16). As our Father, God will give us the comfort and peace we need because he loves us more than we can possibly imagine.
God is Powerful
So, God loves us, but is he strong enough to take on pandemics, financial disasters, and broken relationships? Scripture says “yes.” For instance, in Isaiah 40,the prophet describes how God created and sustains the universe. For example, in verse 20, he says, “Look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars? He [God] brings them out like an army, one after another. . . Because of his great power and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing” (NLT). Just consider how much power our sun has. Then, multiply that billions of times over. God created all the fuel burning in all stars in the universe, and he controls all of it. Taking care of our current crisis will not tax his abilities a bit.
God is Loving
However, God isn’t just powerful. He also loves his children infinitely. His compassion motivates him to use his power to meet our deepest needs. Paul stated that “Nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God” (Romans 8:39). God loved us enough to sacrifice his son Jesus for our sins, even though we were sinners in open rebellion against him (Romans 5:6-10). Nothing can touch a child of God without his permission. And, he will answer our distress calls because he loves us. To us, our trials seem overwhelming. But God turns them into tools to shape us into the image of Jesus. So, the insurmountable obstacles that make us afraid become eternal blessings from the hands of our loving Father.
Fight Fear Biblically by Knowing God’s Promises
God’s Promises Provide Hope
Knowing God cares for us and has infinite power gives us hope in a crisis. We can also fight fear by using his promises. Scripture contains hundreds of God’s promises. They are like treasures in a chest that we can draw from any time we are in a crisis. Jesus’ disciples learned this fact by experience. On the night he was betrayed, Jesus told them, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Just a few hours later, Jesus was arrested, tried, and sentenced to die on the cross. At that point, the disciples’ found themselves fighting fear, big time. In fact, they all ran and hid so the Jewish authorities couldn’t arrest them as well (John 20:19).
Only when Jesus appeared to the disciples after his resurrection did their peace of mind return. Once they saw him alive, they realized that he had kept his promise. He had overcome both the powers of Rome and the Jewish religious leaders. Even more importantly, he had conquered death. Their firsthand experience of Jesus’ overcoming power made the disciples bold and fearless witnesses for the rest of their lives.
God’s Promises Sustain and Comfort Us
As followers of Christ, we should be encouraged by the example of Jesus’ first disciples. When we encounter fearsome situations and threats, we can cling to the promise of Romans 8:28. “For those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” God may choose to sustain and comfort us in the midst of a fearful situation. Or, he may remove it altogether. In any case, we can trust that he is always in control and is acting for our best interests. God’s promises give us hope that our pain is not in vain.
God Keeps his Promises
From Scripture, we learn that God loves us and has the power and wisdom to protect us from harm. Whether God removes the source of our fear or not, our faith grows. And, we become more like Jesus. This is what the apostle James says: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2-4). God promises that the crises we encounter in life mature our faith to the point that we lack nothing. Promises like this can give us confidence and hope in difficult situations.
Another passage outlines our plan of attack when we need to fight fear. in Philippians 4:6-7, Paul writes, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” This passage instructs us to pray and thank God, even when our situation remains difficult. Then, it promises that God will give us victory and peace at the end of our battle against anxiety and worry. Since God always keeps his promises, knowing them becomes vital to our spiritual wellbeing.
Fight Fear Biblically by Using God’s Promises
Collect God’s Promises
We know that Scripture provides us with facts about God and records his many promises. But how do we put what we know into action? One thing you can do when anxiety strikes is to find Scripture that relates to the issue causing your fear. You can fight fear Biblically by writing verses and stories that relate to that issue on notecards. Whenever you become fearful, read the verses over and over again, until you feel God’s peace. Increase your stack of notecards every time you become anxious. Always Keep them on hand to use as spiritual ammunition to help you fight fear. This is what Paul had in mind when he called Scripture “The Sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17).
Personalize God’s Promises and Attributes
You can also personalize promises as prayers to God. For example, whenever you find yourself worrying or in a panic, pray something like this: “God, your Word says I should seek you and your kingdom instead of worrying about food and clothing (Matthew 6:25-33). I love and honor you as my perfect Father. Will you meet my need. Because I believe you love me and want the best for me, I submit to your wisdom in how you choose to provide for me. And I thank you in advance for what you are going to do (Philippians 4:6-7).
In addition to changing God’s promises into prayers, you will benefit by thinking about his attributes. The psalms have lots of vivid descriptions of God’s character as well as practical promises. For instance, Psalm 23 affirms God’s goodness and his concern for your welfare. It promises that he will give you what you need in this life and keep you safe. It even addresses death, the greatest fear of all. God promises each of his children a place in the “house of God forever.” When you get the truths of this one short psalm into your heart, you can weather anything. Even if the Corona virus takes your life, you will be with God for eternity because you have believed in Jesus his Son.
Any Believer Can Fight Fear Biblically
The Corona virus pandemic has made many people fearful and anxious. And, who knows what new crisis will appear next month or next year? Whatever happens, knowing the greatness of God’s love and power will help us fight fear. We can also use the promises of Scripture as weapons in the battle. And both a little child and an elderly grandparent can learn about God and recite his promises when they are afraid. Any child of God can find comfort and peace in the midst of trials and testing circumstances, because God loves us and has the power to help us. Whatever the cause of our anxiety or worry, we can fight fear biblically by trusting in our all-powerful God who loves us infinitely.
John Piper has written an encouraging book called Corona Virus and Christ.
Check out You Don’t Have to Worry.