This is a two part question, 1.) Growth as a Christian and 2.) Facing worries and fears. I'm going to cover part 2 tonight and come back to cover part 1 at a later time.
I want to make one thing abundantly clear. What I write in this article is not something I have perfected. My goal is not to share what I have learned in my abundant experience in conquering fear, but rather what the Bible says about fears and worries. As a good example that I would feel hypocritical if I didn't share, I have gone through a week of mild depression this past week because of some worries and fears about the future. So while I may not be the best person to write this article, I do feel the Bible contains applicable truth to this that is true whether it is spoken by a confident PhD or an inexperienced teenager.
There are two Bible verses I would like to examine chiefly on this topic. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 and Philippians 4:6-7. These are two passages of Scripture that have both touched me immensely during hard times in my life, the first during a period of homesickness and feelings of inadequacy in Africa and the second this past week while wrestling with some doubts.
I encourage you to look up all four verses I referenced above in the 2 Cor. passage, but I will just type out the very relevant part here. "And He has said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.' Most gladly, therefore, will I rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then I am strong."
This verse, to me, represents yet again how opposite Christian thinking should be from the world's. Strength is not grounds for boasting for the believer; weakness is. In fact, rather than boasting about our iron wills and spiritual muscles, we boast in our shortcomings, our weakness, and our failures. But why?
Because in our weakness, fears, and doubts, Christ is free to be my Everything. Vulnerability and weakness in ourselves removes every vestige of self-will and trust in my spiritual disciplines and spiritual muscles by placing me squarely dependent on my Savior for hope and power in my day to day life.
Hard times show us the sufficiency of Christ. Hard times show me that the grace of God is all I need. Hard times reveal whether or not my strongest desire is truly for God or for earthly things. Hard times, worries, and fears point me back to a loving Father and away from the things that seem so important during easy times. Hard times have a way of forcing us to recognize the true value of things, hobbies, family, friends, and our God.
The second passage I would like to look at is Philippians 4. "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Two elements of this passage jump out at me. First off all, it starts off with a command to chill. "Be anxious for nothing." Don't worry. Trust the sovereign hand of God in the affairs on earth. Trust that the sovereign God who rules over all things is good, perfect, and working all things together for good (Rom. 8:28). When we realize we're talking about almighty God here, it becomes more obvious that He does, in fact, deserve a measure of trust and faith. After all, He's God. If He says He's working out the future for our good, He is. I'm not claiming that that is easy to believe or convince yourself of, but it's no less true.
Second point is probably my favorite thing I have seen in the Bible in the past week. The phrase in the KJV is "peace of God which passeth all understanding", but I personally prefer my NASB translation's "peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension..."
If that's not a beautiful concept, I'm not sure what is. Paul is admittedly speaking of a peace that is not understandable. It's a peace we shouldn't have in tough circumstances. It's a radical trust and a reckless faith in our Father and His goodness.
The phrase I thought of to describe it is "irrational peace". It's a peace that doesn't make sense. It's a peace we shouldn't have, rationally speaking. In the hard times in life, we naturally worry, doubt, and fear. But as believers, as we learn how to handle these worries, doubts, and fears, God grants us peace, an irrational peace. Reckless faith and radical trust results in irrational peace.
My prayer for you all, for my friends, for my fellow writer and friend Lauren, and for myself is that we honestly realize that the hard times will come, and that we will cling to Christ with fervency and passion through them, radically and recklessly. "And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." That's God's promise, not mine.