Christ promises us that no matter who we are, we will have trials in this world (John 16:33). Storms will come and circumstances that are out of our control will arise; it’s part of the journey. Though unpleasant at times, the valleys grow us and stretch us in ways the mountaintops never could.
In my own life, fear often accompanied the trials. When God told me to do something that didn’t make sense or when circumstances arose that were out of my control, I began to just accept worry or fear as part of the trial. As I was recently walking through one of these situations, the fear that I was beginning to experience was—honestly—nothing short of tormenting. It was in this circumstance that God began to show me that fear is never a part of His plan.
Where my thinking had gone wrong was that I thought the Enemy was creating the fear that I was experiencing. While in an indirect way the Enemy can cause fear, he cannot create it… I’ll show you what I mean.
We are commanded over 300 times in the Scriptures not to fear. And it’s not just the soothing voice of the Father telling us not fear, but we are commanded not to be afraid. God never gives us a command that we are incapable of obeying. So if God has commanded us not to fear, it becomes evident that fear is a choice that we make.
Fear is when we willingly come into agreement with the lies of the Enemy. Satan cannot make us fear, that is a choice that we make by succumbing to his influence. God doesn’t command us not to experience hardships or not to go through trials because those things are out of our control. God doesn’t give us commands regarding our circumstances because we can’t control them, but He does give us the command not to fear; we can control that. The Enemy can cause circumstances and suffering, but fear is a choice.
Satan’s goal in influencing the things we can’t control (like our circumstances) is to influence the things we can control but that he doesn’t have direct access to (like our fear or trust in God).
If we look at the Word, we see that Satan certainly has the ability to influence our circumstances, but we also see that he has to ask first (Job 1:12 and Luke 22:31). Satan’s actions are never out of God’s will or control. And we also see that Satan’s ability to influence our circumstances is where his authority ends. Our fear only comes into play when we allow Satan to influence our thinking.
You may be thinking, “That sounds too easy. We can’t just choose not to fear.” While it definitely is not easy, I do think it is much more simple than we’ve made it. We can either choose to trust God or trust the lies of the Enemy. I really do believe it’s that simple. It’s not as simple as making a one-time choice to trust God and then we will never fear again, but it’s a process of continually making the choice to trust God’s promises when we are confronted by lies. We take thoughts captive and make them submit to the Word of God.
So how in the midst of suffering or in the midst of a trial do we refrain from fear? Well, without God fear is inevitable, which awakens that much more awe for God in me. Without God, your circumstances and suffering define you and can completely and utterly destroy your life. But with God, we are promised that, “All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). ALL THINGS work together for good. Every circumstance that doesn’t make sense, every time of painful suffering, every time of uncertainty where you can’t see the end of the road, they all will turn out for good.
Notice there is a contingency to this promise. All things don’t work together for good for just everyone. It says that all things work together for good to those who “love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” If the focus of our life is our own happiness or our own desires, this promise does not apply. It is in the pursuit of God’s will to be done on this earth that we can be assured that no matter what comes our way, it will all result in our good.
At the end of Matthew 6, Jesus talks with His disciples about worry. He tells them not to worry about where their food will come from or where they will get their clothing, but says, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). It’s in the seeking of God’s Kingdom to come and His will to be done on earth that we are free from fear. It’s in the singular pursuit of God and His will that worry ends.
So often we refuse to surrender our own will because we somehow got the idea that God’s will is second best for our lives. We’ve believed the lie that following God will result in unhappiness when exactly the opposite is true. Choosing to follow our own desires over God’s is like clutching a $1 bill when God is trying to hand us a million dollars. If we would just let go of the $1 bill and open up our hands, we would receive infinitely more than we ever imagined.
I will end with this. I heard a speaker say recently that this generation has continued to live as a culture of victims when we were created to be victors. Somehow it seems that this generation has gotten the idea that trials mean getting beat up by the Enemy and living in fear and hopelessness until the storm blows over. Let me tell you from experience, that type of attitude in a trial will produce nothing in you. The point of a trial is not simply to suffer, but we are given tests and trials so that we can overcome them!
It is in the overcoming of the trial that the test produces something in us. We are not called to lie down and let the Enemy trample all over us! We are “more than conquerors” (Romans 8:37). The way you overcome the Enemy is by not giving Him what he wants, which is fear and hopelessness. The Bible says absolutely nothing about us being fearful and hopeless in the midst of a trial, that’s not what suffering means. We can have joy in the midst of the trial. The Word says that, “In [His] presence is fullness of joy” (Psalm 16:11). We are also promised that God will never leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6). So if God never leaves us and never takes His presence from us (except because of disobedience) and if in His presence is the fullness of joy, we can abound in peace and joy no matter the circumstances.
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
- John 16:33
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.”
- 1 John 4:18
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