Controlling Fear by Trusting God

Asian woman with face mask looking frightened


What is fear?

We all experience fear.  But dealing with it can be difficult, especially when we face significant challenges in life. Is controlling fear impossible? How do we manage it so it doesn’t lead us into despair? By trusting God.

Fear is a reaction to danger: actual, potential, or perceived. It is a natural emotion given to us by God for self-protection. Of course, even the animals experience it; they need it to survive.

Some people’s fears are well-founded. They are in real danger, and they need to take whatever steps available to them to protect themselves. In many cases, fear is a very necessary and healthy tool for survival. So, it is a good thing, in its proper place.

Unfounded fears

But some people’s fears are totally unfounded. The fear in them is real but what they fear is not. It is sad to see people spending tremendous amounts of energy and resources on a perceived danger that is not real. Some people can even start to live in an unreal world, dominated by their fears.

Many fears have some basis, but we exaggerate them in our minds. The danger becomes larger than it really is, and so we over-react to it or dwell on it. We all tend to exaggerate our problems, so most of our fears fall into this category.

Reacting to crises

Life is full of difficulties: job loss, health crises, marital problems, and sometimes even much larger problems such as natural disasters, war, pandemics, and economic collapse. Once a bad situation has already developed, fear cannot change the situation, and it usually makes things worse. Not controlling fear can cause people to over-react, which can lead them to do things that are irrational, unkind, and even dangerous.

People hoarding food or supplies in a time of crisis may give them a temporary sense of security, but it is selfish since it may deprive others of things that they need. Some people become even more selfish than they already are and may resort to theft or even physical violence.

But believers in Christ should be different. Believers need to focus first on what God has given us control over. We do not control the past. It is gone, so there’s no use dwelling on it. We control very little of the future. And we cannot control most of what goes on around us.

But what God has given us is the present, our responses to what happens around us, and the actions that we take now which affect us and others. By our obedience to God’s commands and controlling our fear, we can bring light into a dark world. And instead of despair, we can bring hope and love into desperate situations where the world has none.


Worry is a form of fear. Worrying is allowing one’s mind to dwell on difficulties or problems. The problems then consume our thoughts and negatively affect our lives in many ways.

Many of our worries can be prevented by simply living a disciplined, self-controlled life. We take prudent measures to stay healthy and safe and avoid problems before they occur. But many people still worry about the basic things of life. Jesus spoke to us about this in Matthew 6:25-34, teaching that our heavenly Father is kind and generous, and supplies the needs of those who trust him. The conclusion to this teaching reads as follows:

 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  (Matthew 6:34)

It is a fact that every day has its own problems and challenges. If we add to one day’s troubles by worrying about tomorrow’s troubles, we double our anxiety. If we add the troubles of even more days or add our unfounded fears, then the anxiety grows exponentially. Our lives eventually become flooded with worries and anxiety, and they become too much to bear. Worry also makes us unfit to serve God, since our focus often becomes ourselves, and not God or the needs of others.

Trusting God

It’s not wrong or unspiritual to experience fear. The Apostle Paul had many times in his life where he had reason to be afraid. His fear was real because the dangers were real. In 2 Corinthians, he describes the hardships he suffered in the province of Asia.

“We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we even despaired of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.  He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us… ” (2 Corinthians 1:8-10)

Why does God allow hardship in our lives? So that we learn to trust him. Most things in life are out of our control, and we need God’s help to face them.

Faith in spite of fear

In times of difficulty, we should turn to prayer. This will relieve the stress and soothe our anxiety. But even more importantly, it connects us with a sovereign God who holds the future, and in fact holds our very lives in his hand.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that we will always receive what we ask for. We may pray for an abundant supply of everything we think we need, or we may want to be relieved of all discomfort or suffering, or never be in danger. But some things are just not in God’s plan. And contrary to what some preachers say, God doesn’t promise to anyone a life free of conflict or suffering.

Although suffering is a part of life, God does not delight in our suffering. But he’s glad when we turn to him in our troubles and give him praise when he answers our prayers. He’s also pleased when we maintain our faith and love for him, and obey his Word, even when life doesn’t turn out the way we had hoped.

The prayer of faith

But faith in God is more than just prayer. Frantic or “last resort” prayers, although they may be better than no prayer at all, are not the best ways to approach God. True faith is expressed by confident prayer, as Hebrews teaches us.

“Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

This means that God is pleased when we trust him. And it also means that he is pleased when we confidently ask for his help in our time of need. Why? Because it shows that we know him and what kind of God he really is: he is reliable, he is good, and he rewards those who seek him. It also shows that our main goal is not just to be free of suffering, but we desire a relationship with him.

Living free of anxiety and fear

The believer is not to worry or to dwell in constant fear and anxiety—controlling fear, not letting it control us. We are to hold on to the promises God has given us, instead of giving in to fear of the unknown or what we don’t control. Paul wrote,

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 4:6-7)

God’s peace during a crisis is a great blessing and also invaluable to our health. It allows us to get a good sleep, makes us better prepared for each day’s challenges, and teaches others around us to trust God also. Confident thankful prayer is the key.

Maintaining a relationship with God

God desires a love relationship with people, those he created in his image. But some people would never come to God at all if it weren’t for trials and difficulties.

It’s much better that we continue serving and trusting God in the midst of uncertainty and difficulty because we love him. Jesus’ command to serve God also brings a promise:

“So do not worry… But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”  (Matthew 6:31, 33)

Joyfully serving God and others takes our focus off of ourselves and helps us in controlling our exaggerated and unfounded fear. We become more directly connected to reality by connecting to the needs of others in service to God. And we find that in the process, our needs are taken care of as well. Even though there’s risk in living this way, Jesus promises that he will be with us, giving us guidance and power through his Holy Spirit. He also promises that we will not go unrewarded.

Cultivating a daily reliance on God is far preferable to just focusing on the problems we face. God is pleased when we come to him regularly in trust, because we love him. And a love relationship with God is the greatest treasure in life that anyone can possess.

In the storm, keep the faith, and don’t lose hope. God will come through for us who trust in him. He will never leave us or forsake us.

1 thought on “Controlling Fear by Trusting God”

  1. Thanks for the encouraging reminder of God’s sovereignty and practical ways to work through fear and worry in these uncertain times.

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