The 24-hour news cycle is saturated with fear lately. Maybe even beyond saturated. It seems to drip off the edges of every title and article. It’s easy to become soaked in it, even though we know as believers that we have no need to fear.
Let’s talk about fear and three concrete tips we can implement to combat it.
What fills your heart?
I was struck by a passage in Romans recently. It reads, “For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love.” (Romans 5:5)
Now sounds like a totally different kind of saturation, isn’t it?
We were designed to be filled with the love of God, but often it’s fear that gets most of the room.
A need to know can feed the fear. We think, “If I just know what is happening in the world/the country, I can be prepared.” But all that scrolling and reading is not just filling your head with information, it might be filling your heart with fear.
The truth of the matter is that fear and love cannot occupy the same space in our hearts. But there is good news! 1 John 4:18 says, “perfect love drives out fear.”
Love is not a passive, weak force. It is powerful. It can DRIVE out fear. If we let it.
Drain, re-fill, repeat
Recently, my husband needed to change the transmission fluid in our car. He explained to me that you can’t flush the system because that can cause problems. What you have to do is drain the old fluid out, fill it with new, drive it, drain it again, and fill it once more. These steps get most of the old transmission fluid out, and make space for the new.
I think we can use this as a metaphor for our hearts. We need to drain out the fear and refill it with love. We need to do it repeatedly, over and over again until little fear remains and the powerful force of God’s love has replaced it.
So how do we do this? How do we drain out the fear and fill our hearts with the love of God?
Practical Tip #1
One way is to personalize the Word. What I mean is to look up verses that speak of God’s love for you and stick your name right in it. Here are some examples:
Be strong and courageous, __________. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, ___________. For the Lord your God will be with your wherever you go.(Joshua 1:9)
“I have loved you, __________, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you, ___________, to myself.(Jeremiah 31:3 NLT)
‘For the mountains may move and the hills disappear, but even then my faithful love for you, __________, will remain. My covenant of blessing will never be broken,’ says the Lord, who has mercy on you.(Isaiah 54:10 NLT)
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you, ____________.(John 15:9)
And may you have the power to understand, ___________, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, ___________, though it is too great to understand fully.(Eph 3:18-19 NLT)
So do not fear, ______________, I am with you; do not be dismayed, _____________, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.(Isaiah 41:10)
Because of the Lord’s great love, ____________, (you) are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning. Great is (God’s) faithfulness (to you), ____________.(Lamentations 3:22-23)
This may need to become a daily practice if you really struggle in this area. And if you have a child who struggles with fear, you can read these passages to him and put his name in the blanks.
Practical Tip #2
You can also combat fear through remembrance. You can read more about that here. If you focus on the ways God’s love has been manifest in your life in the past, the fears in the present melt away.
Practical Tip #3
Pay attention to your motives for reading or watching the news. Pay attention to what is happening inside your heart and mind. Is is bringing peace? Is it driving you to pray? Is it driving you to action? Is it driving you to the arms of Jesus? If not, re-consider your information consumption habits. If it’s filling you with fear, it may need to be an activity that you need to drain from your day. Like the transmission fluid example above, you may not be able to get it all out, but if love is preeminent in your heart, fear can’t take over.
So let’s let the fear slip through our fingers, and hold tightly to the mighty love of God. The headlines may be filled with fear, but our hearts don’t have to be.