Fear, in this question, is defined as extreme anxiety. It is real and happens to all of us when our lives or circumstances seem to be overwhelmingly scary. Interestingly enough, it is in these moments that we might hear God telling us not to fear but rather be courageous. The Greek word for courageous means “boldness and confidence.” In the Bible, courage is the opposite of fear. Without God’s intervention and direction, our lives suffer. Hopelessness and fear are natural consequences of a life lived without trusting God. However, when we know our God, His love and His will for our lives, we will have courage to face the hard and fearful times because God is with us always!
“Let your gentleness be apparent to all. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.…” (Philippians 4:5-7).
God has lots of ways of getting our attention: through sadness, illness, failure, a lost job or relationship. That list is endless. It should be reassuring for all of us to know that scripture is packed with examples of God meeting people in their time of terror to admonish them to have courage. Why? Because He is with us. When He calls us to be brave, He assures us that He is with us. God’s plans and His presence, nature, power, and wisdom are what make us courageous. He removes fear and replaces it with calmness, confidence, strength, and trust.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens us” (Philippians 4:13). There is nothing in any of us naturally that could give us victory over our fear but Jesus. This is why, in every area of our life, we need to be subservient to God’s will for our lives.
“The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1).
God encouraged Joshua to “be strong and of good courage” (NKJV) or “be strong and courageous” (NIV) because “the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).
When God commands us to be courageous and of good cheer, we can know that God has got it all under control. Here are some examples of how He works:
In Genesis 15:1, God calms Abram’s fears after his battle with the kings of Sodom, the captivity of Lot and his rescue, God says, “Fear not, [for] I am your shield”.
When Hagar was despairing for her life and that of her child in the wilderness, the angel of the Lord tells her, “Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is” (Genesis 21:17).
In the New Testament, we see the angel of the Lord telling Mary to have courage in facing the trials of being pregnant with Jesus. The reason that she could be courageous is that the almighty God controls all things: “Do not fear…for you have found favor with God” (Luke 1:30). She knew that God was with her, for her and would protect her. He, not she, made courage possible.
“Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared” (Proverbs 3:25-26).
“It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).
“No night is so long, no darkness so impenetrable, no suffering so painful, no evil so frightful, and no enemy so fierce as to disturb the confidence of the one who has God for his light and the Lord for his salvation. Believers can be of good courage and not be afraid because the Lord is the stronghold of their lives” ( Psalm 27)..
“I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world” (John 16:33).
“But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).