As our nation moves further and further away from its Christian foundation, believers in America are increasingly experiencing the sense that we are aliens in a foreign country. Living in a culture that mocks biblical values and accepts immorality can make us feel as if we are surrounded by strangers speaking an unfamiliar language.
I know from experience that being an outsider in a hostile land can be frightening. Many years ago, when I was a youth minister, I took a group of teenagers to the Soviet Union for a mission trip. It was during the Cold War, and the atmosphere was so oppressive that we couldn’t wait to get out of there. On the day we were to leave Russia, I got caught on the wrong side of the customs line without my passport. I explained my predicament to the Soviet agent, but he was clear: no passport, no exit. Those few minutes before my passport turned up were some of the scariest moments in my life. I still shudder when I think about what might have happened if I hadn’t found my passport!
The world system is hostile to Christianity, but that is no reason for us to panic. The key to having courage during difficult times is facing your fears in faith.
Receive God’s Supernatural Help
When we go through suffering or trials, God gives us His grace—His divine assistance—to provide the strength we need.
The Apostle Paul described a time when he experienced God’s supernatural help. In 2 Corinthians 12:7, Paul says he was given “a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me.” Satan’s message to Paul was pain and panic. But the Lord’s message to him was grace: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness” (v. 9). Three times, Paul asked God to take away this “thorn.” Instead, God gave Paul what he needed most—His help. As a result, Paul did not simply endure his suffering; he rose above it. By God’s grace, Paul was able to proclaim, “Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me” (v. 9).
This is great news, because make no mistake about it, storms will come—either literally, as when brave men and women across our nation faced devastating hurricanes and floods, or figuratively, as when our culture outlaws any mention of God in the public square or when your spouse files for divorce. No matter what storms we face in our lives, they almost always bring a rising tide of panic. And when the wind is howling, either outside our windows or inside our hearts, you and I need to look to God to receive His supernatural help.
Trust the Power of God’s Word
When life feels out of control, God’s words are not pretty-sounding platitudes meant to make us feel better. God is not like a kindly old grandfather who absentmindedly pats our heads and says, “There, there. Everything will be okay.” No, when God gives us a promise, He speaks with the authority of the Creator of the universe, who not only brought the world into existence by the power of His Word but also continues to speak to us through His Word today.
I encourage you to make a list of the three things that frighten you the most. Are you fearful of what is happening in our culture? Are you worried about international unrest? Or are your fears closer to home: the illness of a loved one, a rebellious child, the suspicion that your spouse is having an affair, a downturn in your business, or the loss of a job?
Make your list. Then, with the help of a Bible concordance or a godly friend, find at least one Scripture reference to write next to each concern. For example, are you fearful you won’t be able to provide for yourself and your family? Next to that fear, write out Matthew 6:25–26: “Do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?”
Claim those passages as God’s promises for you. Memorize those verses and meditate on them every time you are tempted to panic. In time, the Lord will build your confidence so that you can live with courage.
Rely on God’s Promises and Presence
We tend to give in to fear when we feel powerless over our circumstances. The truth is, in many instances, you and I are powerless. But if we allow our fears to morph into panic, then we are assuming that God is also powerless—and we know He is anything but that! So why should we “tremble or be dismayed” (Joshua 1:9)?
No matter what distress you might be experiencing right now, there is no reason to panic. Paul wrote, “God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7).
Whenever you are tempted to give in to fear, rely on Jesus’ promise: “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. . . . Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10). And whenever you feel powerless and alone, rely on the presence of our Lord, who says, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).