What are the differences between fear and anxiety? Fear is a more focused emotion, usually about a very specific thing or circumstance. People’s fear of snakes, for example, usually pops up when they see a snake, not while they work at their desks. Worry is usually less intense and more drawn out, like annoying background noise that you cannot turn off or get out of your head. It can be like trying to work next to a parking lot where they are using jackhammers to break up the concrete. Both fear and anxiety concern something bad happening to something you love in the future, but they are often felt differently.
In our journey towards living fearless, we have been exploring fear and anxiety as the multi-faceted thing that they actually are. We cannot pretend we can banish fear from all areas of life at all times. This is impossible in an evil, broken world as finite, time-bound, and frail humans. And we should even cultivate a healthy fear of the Lord.
But when it comes to long, drawn-out living with worry, God wants us to be done with it. Permanently. Long term worry is not good for us. It damages our health, robs us of joy, and keeps us from working our best. God wants that gone from our lives for our own good.
As Paul writes in Philippians 4:6, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done.” Christians are to dwell on the promises and love that God has given to overcome this kind of debilitating, background noise. Anxiety drains our joy and destroys our ability to boldly live out God’s purpose for us. When you face this kind of worry, it’s time to pull out your weapons and fight against it.
There are specific strategies we can use to combat anxiety: dwelling on God’s love; fearing God more than people; knowing even if the worst happens, we need not fear death; and trusting God’s promises of provision. Memorize Hebrews 2:14-15 or Philippians 4:6 to use whenever you begin to fall into worry.
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