Psalm 138:7 – Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life. You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes; with your right hand, you save me.
We all have enemies. Some come in the form of people whereas other enemies come in the form of things.
In this blog series, we will be looking at three different types of enemies – Fear, Food, and Frenemies (the three F’s).
Fear is an unpleasant emotion that is characterised by feeling scared or hopeless.
The problem with fear is that it gets in between you reaching your full potential. It can consume your life to the point that you don’t see any reason to live.
Symptoms of Fear
In a book by Sarah E. Ball called Fearless in 21 days, she brings across an interesting concept that fear isn’t our enemy, Satan is. Fear became a natural response to danger as a result of sin. Satan twisted godly fear into torment (1 John 4:18).
Some of the symptoms of torment/fear are: panic attacks, physical exhaustion, cold hands and feet, inability to think clearly, disrupted sleep.
If you experience any of these symptoms on a regular basis, it is important to talk about your feelings to a friend, family member, health professional or counsellor. You could also contact Samaritans (call: 116 123, if you need someone to talk to).
Racism, Anger and Fear
At the time when I wrote this blog, there were (and still are) horrible things taking place in the world. One of them has been around for thousands of years, and is an uncomfortable reality – racism. The abominable acts that we have seen in the media have brought out different feelings out of different people. Some of the feelings are anger and fear.
There are many reasons why people are angry or fearful. Some people are infuriated with the injustice, especially when it is trivialised and it seems like nothing is done about it. Whereas, others are frightened of losing their lives or the their loved ones to racist hate crime.
Sometimes, certain media platforms and organisations encourage people to stay away from the news in order to preserve their positive wellbeing. In my opinion, I think it is about having a balance. Yes, it is important to look after your mental health but it is also vital to be informed about what is happening around us. We have to be informed firstly before we can think about making a difference.
So I would encourage you to find out what is going on in the world. It doesn’t have to be through the news. It could be through books, online blogs, documentaries, etc.
Fear may be one of the things preventing us from educating ourselves on these issues. But as Marie Curie said, “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more so that we may fear less.” And as the great Nelson Mandela also said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
During these tumultuous times of a pandemic, many people, including myself, react by feeling fearful for the future. When we are fearful, we need to remind ourselves of God’s promises.
One of the promises that continually encourages me is “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11).
This promise was given by God to the children of Israel, who hadn’t kept God’s covenant and were experiencing the consequences of rejecting God. However, He didn’t give up on them and assured them that He would see them through to the end.
We have to believe that God hasn’t given up on us. If we allow His will to be done in our lives, He will ensure that all things that we go through will work together for our good, and He will carry out His purpose through us (Romans 8:28).
Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)
Another type of fear that is dangerous and sadly pervades society today, more than ever before, is the fear of missing out. It’s easy to look at people’s Instagram posts and Snapchat stories and think that life looks lush. Remember, the grass always looks greener on the other side until you realise it’s astroturf.
Sometimes it feels like everyone else’s life is better than yours. This is an unrealistic feeling. Try not compare yourself to others. Everything takes time. Appreciate the journey you are on because it’s your journey.
What helps me deal with fear
So far, we’ve talked about fear that is related to anxiety, and fear of missing out. However, there are more types of fear that we haven’t discussed. You may wonder `”how can you overcome all the different types of fear?”
I have asked myself the same question many a times. Personally, I find it helpful when I replace my negative thoughts with positive thoughts, by using positive affirmations. These are realistic affirmations, for example, “by God’s Grace I will be fine”, and “with God, I can do anything”.
A book called Life affirmations from scripture by Shelley Quinn has also helped transform my negative thoughts into positive thoughts. Applying the biblical promises in the book has caused me to shift my perspective, and realise, I am not a victim of the devil; instead I am a victor through Jesus Christ.
A practical tip I gave you earlier was to seek help. You can also:
- Check in with yourself
- Look after your body – Balanced diet, adequate sleep, regular exercise and hydration, etc. These things may seem insignificant, but they can go a long way to improving your wellbeing. You won’t necessarily always get quick results but the long term benefits will be worthwhile. According to Michael W. Otto and Jasper A. J. Smits, PhD, those who exercise regularly are 25% less likely to develop depression or anxiety disorder.
- Deep breathing – It’s natural to resort to shallow breathing when you are stressed out, but if you are more intentional about your breathing. It can make your body feel more relaxed.
- Count your blessings – This is something that can be difficult to do at first, because our minds naturally gravitate towards the negative instead of the positive. But when we think about the blessings that God has poured out upon us in the past, it definitely lifts our mood. Always remember that the words we speak to our minds have power to make us or break us. So let us feed our minds with positivity.
- Biblical meditation – This is when you meditate on God’s Word (Psalm 19:14). “However,” as Sarah E. Ball says, “there is a very distinct difference between biblical meditation, New Age Meditation, and Eastern religion meditation.” Some of these forms of meditation include repeating a phrase or word until you feel calm. Yoga (meaning “yoked to the divine”) is about being connected to the spirit realm of nothingness. Many of these practices go against what the biblical meaning of meditation is, which is to think about God’s Word and rest in Him. I could go on and on but I’ll leave you with this text if you are not sure which type of meditation is for you – Romans 12:1-2 .
I know that the effects of fear are far-reaching, and it can seem as if there is no hope. But have faith that your fear won’t consume you. Faith is the evidence of things not seen, so even if you are currently feeling fear, don’t think that you have lost the battle. Keep on choosing to overcome fear with the tips above, along with other advice that you may find helpful.
Thanks for reading 🙂 Please comment if you have any other tips on how to overcome fear!