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In marriage, our emotional state always affects our spouse. And our fears add a constant tension to the relationship.
In our previous post we looked at how our fears negatively affect our intimacy in marriage.
If we want a stronger and more intimate marriage, it is important to recognize and work through our fears, together.
Real and Unreal Fears
We all know that fears live in our mind and work within our thoughts. For every truly dangerous situation, there are usually dozens of needless fears that come through our minds.
That’s because there are different “types” of fears. A real fear is finding a Tiger in your living room. A “not” real fear is imagining that there might be a tiger in your living room.
Most of our fears are the “not real” type. They rise up when we are visualizing a future situation. Since the future hasn’t occurred, that fear is still “imaginary”. Yet these fears are the most common type that we experience.
Since fears start in our minds, it makes our minds the battleground. (Romans 12:2) And it is there that we must focus.
In Psalm 118:6-9 we can see David and his approach to fear.
The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me? Yes, the Lord is for me; he will help me. I will look in triumph at those who hate me. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in people. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.
Some might say that David is playing mind games. He is claiming he trusts God to help him stop thinking about his fears. That seems unlikely because David knows fear better than you and I will ever understand.
David is a seasoned hand-to-hand fighter. He has fought many men and has seen death hundreds of times. Yet David does not stay controlled by fear because he has a specific view of the situation.
He recognizes the reality of death and then adds what he knows of God’s character and ways. This presents him with the full perspective and brings his fears back down to size.
And isn’t that the real problem? We magnify our fears. And we minimize how much God is with us. When we do this, our fears increase and stick around.
Which will we magnify? Our fears or the God who oversees our lives?
Fear and Knowing
David “knows” God in three important ways.
1. From the scriptures: (Deuteronomy 33:29, Jeremiah 31:3, Psalm 11:1, Psalm 18:2). See more HERE.
2. From his history: David looks back. He sees God’s work in his life. He recalls that God protected him from the bear and the lion while he was a shepherd. He saw God’s power when he killed Goliath despite overwhelming odds. (1 Samuel 17:36) David realized that God was actively at work in preserving his life.
3. From his deep relationship with God: As a shepherd, David was often alone watching the sheep. There he had hours to meditate on the Law and talk with God. (John 10:3, Psalm 23) David came to understand God’s ways and the secure relationship he enjoyed with God. His belief, trust, faith, comfort and rest in God were reinforced by his intimacy with God.
Fears flourish when we don’t “know” God in these three ways. We begin to entertain doubts.
Fears take root in our doubts because we think we trust ourselves more than God.
Fears are particularly a problem when we are not spiritually disciplined. An undisciplined mind allows fears to come in, and become part of our life. Then to maintain power, these same fears fill us with excuses on why they are “real”.
But God has given us an example of what to do. Here Paul describes the action we must take against fear.
I destroy every claim and every reason that keeps people from knowing God. I keep every thought under control in order to make it obey Christ.
2 Corinthians 10:5
He says we are to examine our thoughts, including our fears. And we are to apply the truth of God to them. Why are we to do this? Because when we let fear take root, it slowly ruins us. It leads us to make poor choices. To avoid growing and changing. To sabotaging deep relationships. To never experiencing peace.
Our most common fears attack the trust we have in God and question His goodness and control. They work against us.
- How many of us are limited from serving God fully, because of our fears?
- How often do we let our fears keep us from speaking truth?
- How often do we use excuses provided by our fears to avoid being obedient to God’s word?
- How many times have we avoided needed conversations and confession because we fear conflict?
God gave us his Spirit. And the Spirit doesn’t make us weak and fearful. Instead, the Spirit gives us power and love. He helps us control ourselves.
2nd Timothy 1:7
God, I’m tired of having fears that control me. They separate me from your truth and your blessings. They lie to me. And I can see their evil. So, please forgive me for giving them power. I want to live free from fear. Plant your words of truth in my memory so I can use them to destroy the work of fear. You made me to trust You. I choose you. I accept your love. Thank you Jesus. You faced your fears and died in my place so I could live free from fear.
Questions to Consider
- What are some common “unreal” fears I battle with?
- If I list my common fears, who am I trusting when I let them influence me?
- How well am I doing in recognizing “unreal” fears and applying God’s word of truth?
- What if I began monitoring my list of fears and reading God’s word over them each week?