“The end of all things is near; therefore, be alert and sober-minded for prayer” (1 Peter 4:7, csb).
Fear, for all its ugly reputation, is sometimes actually a gift from the Lord. A burst of fear is God’s way of alerting our internal systems to the fact that something’s happening—potential pain, harm, or loss—something that needs our swift attention. In this way, fear serves a protective function. “Heads up! Watch out!”
“Fight back against oppressive fear by refreshing your mind in the truth.”
But maybe you and fear have gotten a lot more acquainted than that lately. Then it’s time you got some things cleared up between the two of you.
The problem with fear is when it doesn’t lift after the thing that induced it is gone. Fear that worms its way inside becomes a roving phobia and dread—one of the enemy’s most potent ways of messing with your mind. You can’t move. You can’t decide. You can’t sort fast enough through all the scary scenarios to figure out which choice to make next. You’re frozen. Paralyzed. Locked up.
And that’s no way for believers to live. Whenever you become afraid of anything in an ongoing way, you are no longer dealing with the kind of beneficial aspects of fear that God provides for your safety. You’re now dealing with a distressing emotion that’s become a pattern of thinking. And from there, it’s an easy descent into irrational fears about the future and anything unknown, a sense of generalized uncertainty, and ultimately a state of panic: “I can’t take this anymore!” “I’m losing it!” “I can’t hold it together!”
God, give us clear, sound minds again.
Paul said to Timothy, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7, nkjv). In other parts of Scripture where the original word for “sound mind” is used, it’s interpreted a number of ways. It refers to a person Jesus healed, who was no longer demon-possessed but was now “clothed and in his right mind” (Mark 5:15, esv). Paul used it to defend himself against charges of insanity, saying he was “not out of [his] mind” (Acts 26:25) in his testimony before a Roman government official. Perhaps most noteworthy of all and most practical for us, Peter described our essential need for being “sober-minded” and clear-headed, as part of our maintaining a prayerful, purposeful posture in life.
I understand the internal battle against fear that can creep into our thought patterns. None of us is above being susceptible to the stress that drives such irrational moments. But I challenge you to fight back against oppressive fear by refreshing your mind in the truth of who you are and the truth of who God is.
You know what God’s Word says. You know who Jesus Christ is. You know light from darkness. You know truth from error. You know sin from righteousness. You know right from wrong. You see it clearly now. You are in your right mind. You know what God has promised about the future. You know how this will end. You know what’s ahead of you in eternity. You know what you’ll be singing a hundred years from now, completely regardless of what happens in the next ten months or ten years. You are in your right mind.
And you have no reason to be moved off of it . . . because “God has not given [you] a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
And of that you can be sure, even on days when you’re not sure of much else.
Lord God, thank You for standing between me and my most insidious fears. Thank You for remaining steady and strong and unwavering amid all the moving parts that make up most of my days. Keep me in my right mind. Keep me constant in prayer. Keep me capable of hearing Your guiding voice and obeying You without question. Whatever is ahead, I know You will go there before me, and I pray today with this level of assurance, in Jesus’ name, amen.