There are two types of fears in The Bible. There is the “good” fear which is respect for God and the “bad” fear which is to be afraid. This article is about the “bad” fear. We all struggle with being afraid. Situations come up in life that naturally causes us to be so. God is aware of this and throughout The Bible, he assures us that with him we don’t have to be afraid.
There are 3 lessons we can learn about fear in The bible. The lessons are:
- Fear Is A Natural First Reaction
- Fear Comes From A Lack of Knowledge
- and Fear Will Keep You From Succeeding In Life
Let’s look at each of these lessons in detail.
Fear Is A Natural First Reaction
The first lesson on fear in The Bible is that it is a natural first reaction. Some of the strongest biblical characters experienced it initially but conquered it. Learning from them, we can know that feeling fearful is normal but it doesn’t have to restrain us.
Fearless Elijah Became Afraid
Take the prophet Elijah for example. He proved himself to be fearless and confident in the power of God many times, yet there was a moment that he became fearful. During the great drought that he himself announced (1 Kings 17:1), he told the widow at Zarephath “Don’t be afraid” after she said she and her son only had one meal left before they died. Then through God’s power, he miraculously provided food for her, her family, and himself (1 Kings 17:13-15).
At another time, Elijah showed that he was fearless when he confronted the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18). After proving that the Lord God was the one true God, he had the false prophets killed (1 Kings 18:40). Despite these two examples, among the other times, he showed fearlessness, when his life was threatened by Jezebel because of what he did to the prophets of Baal, The Bible says “Elijah was afraid and ran for his life” (1 Kings 19:3 NIV).
Like Elijah, situations come up in life and fear becomes our first reaction. This happens in spite of our experiences overcoming fearful situations in the past. Elijah wasn’t the only biblical character that was fearful. There are many others.
Biblical Examples of Fear as A First Reaction
In addition to Elijah, the Israelites and Esther are two other examples of reacting fearfully. Although The Israelites would have experienced God’s power numerous times, when caught between the red sea and Pharoah’s army, The Bible says “They were terrified and cried out to the Lord” (Exodus 14:10 NIV).
As for Esther, when the lives of the Jews were threatened, Mordecai sent word to have her “go into the king’s presence to beg for mercy and plead with him for her people” (Esther 4:8 NIV). What was Esther’s first reaction? You guessed it, fear! She sent a message back to Mordecai saying:
All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that they be put to death unless the king extends the gold scepter to them and spares their lives.Esther 4:11 NIV
At the end of the day, Elijah, The Israelites, and Esther got through the situations they feared.
So whatever happens to you, whether it’s the loss of a loved one, a job, sickness, anything, even though it makes you afraid, remember that it’s a natural first reaction. The Bible shows how many overcame when they were initially fearful. Surely you have stories of when you overcame. Don’t let the initial fear keep you captive. Conquer it!
Learn more about Esther and her risking her life in my article 10 Life Lessons From The Book of Esther.
Fear Comes From A Lack Of Knowledge
Another lesson The Bible teaches us about fear is that it is caused by a lack of knowledge. We human beings were gifted with the power of imagination. Unfortunately, our imagination at times causes us to become unnecessarily fearful.
Have you ever been butt-dialed by a close relative? If you didn’t know, a butt-dial is when someone accidentally calls you because they sat while their phone was in their pocket. How was your response? When we hear the weird sounds and don’t get a reply to our hellos, imagination kicks in and we fear the worst. Not knowing what’s happening causes fear and for some reason, as humans, we think of the worst-case scenario even though it may be the least likely.
Elisha’s Servant Feared Because He Didn’t Know What Elisha Knew
In The Bible, there are few examples of a lack of knowledge causing fear. One example is when the king of Aram was at war with Israel. One night the king ordered men to go capture Elisha the prophet. The Bible then says ‘When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked’ (2 Kings 6:15 NIV). – Elisha’s servant was afraid because he didn’t know what to do.
On the other hand, Elisha, who was not fearful told his servant “don’t be afraid…Those who are with us are more than those who are with them” (2 Kings 6:16 NIV). Then after Elisha prayed, “the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (2 Kings 6:17 NIV). Elisha knew something his servant didn’t know and that made his servant fearful but Elisha not.
Not Knowing God’s Promises Makes Us Fearful
Throughout The Bible, God makes promises to us assuring us that we don’t have to fear. But when we don’t know those promises or forget them in times of trouble fear overtakes us. Examples of scriptures that speak about fear which are good to remember are:
- Psalms 23 – This chapter describes the Lord as our shepherd and that we should fear no evil because he is with us.
- Psalms 91 – This chapter speaks about dwelling in the shelter of the Most High. And that we don’t have to fear the terror of night.
- John 16:33 – Jesus warns his disciples and us by extension that in this world we will have trouble. But take heart! We don’t have to fear because he overcame the world.
- Joshua 1:9 – We don’t have to be afraid because the Lord, as he was with Joshua, will be with us wherever we go.
The scriptures are numerous. By meditating on them we become more aware of his divine protection and that knowledge makes us less fearful. So in all matters, whether spiritual, financial, health…become knowledgeable in order to reduce fear.
Fear Will Keep You From Succeeding In Life
The last lesson I’ll share on fear in The Bible is that fear will keep you from succeeding in life. God wants us to be successful. If you don’t believe that, read my article What The Bible Says About Success In Life. But even though God desires it for us, many of us don’t achieve it because of fear.
My favorite biblical example of this is when God promised the Israelites a land of their own but because of fear, some of them didn’t enter it. It’s found in Numbers 13. In summary, God tells Moses to “Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites” (Numbers 13:2 NIV). After exploring it, most of the men were afraid to take it because they said the people in it were powerful, even exaggerating that they “seemed like grasshoppers” to them. In the end, although God said he was giving them the land, that generation that witnessed his other miracles, yet was afraid to take the land, didn’t get to enter it (Number 14:22-23 NIV).
We Have Potential, But Fear Keeps Us Back
God has given us all the potential to succeed in life, but fear keeps most of us from doing so. Moses, for example continually gave excuses as to why he couldn’t lead the people out of Egyptian slavery, but as you know he eventually did. Jeremiah was similar in that he said he was too young to be a prophet, yet he did (Jeremiah 1:7 NIV).
What will be your story? Is there something you know you should be doing in life, but fear is keeping you back? Know that success in life is on the other side of it. Like Moses in The Bible, I was also fearful but have since overcome. As a result, you are reading this article. You can also overcome fear and achieve the success in life God desires for you.
I share more about our fear of doing what God gave us the ability to do in my article 3 Lessons To Learn From The Call of Moses.
In conclusion, The Bible teaches us that we don’t have to fear. Fear is a natural first reaction that we shouldn’t let confine us. It feeds off our lack of knowledge and so we must fight fear by learning as much as we can. Finally, remember that fear will keep you from the success God wants for you in life. Become an example of what life is like for those that overcome fear!