December Article in Evansville Indiana’s Courier & Press

Conquering Fear in the New Year

By Todd Linn

Friday, December 30, 2011

The prospect of beginning a new year often causes anxiety and concern even among Christians. During the holidays, worries and fears often are “shelved” until after the first of the year. When January rolls around, the worries return and can, at times, seem to overwhelm us.

What do you fear? Some fear loneliness, some fear illness. Others fear getting older or facing rejection. Still others fear natural catastrophes such as earthquakes or tornadoes.

I read where the former Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin so feared for his safety that his home in Moscow contained eight bedrooms. Each night Stalin chose a bedroom at random to ensure that no one knew exactly where he was sleeping.

Did you know that there is even a fear labeled “phobophobia?” It is a fear of fear!

The root of fear may be traced in the Bible to Genesis chapter 3, where it says that after eating the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve hid themselves. Why? Adam says, “I was afraid.” Before that first sin, the word “fear” was not in Adam and Eve’s dictionary, but after they sinned against God, fear was born and we’ve been dealing with it ever since.

In his book “Fuzzy Memories,” Jack Handey writes about a bully who demanded lunch money from him every day at school. Since Handey was smaller, he just gave the bully the money. One day, however, he decided to fight back and began to take karate lessons. All went well until the karate instructor raised his rates. Handey said he just went back to paying the bully! Unfortunately, too many people feel it’s easier just to “pay the bully” than it is to learn how to conquer him. There is a verse of Scripture, however, that helps us conquer the bully of fear. You may consider memorizing it as a “New Year’s Resolution” for 2012:

In Isaiah 41:10 God says, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

This single verse of Scripture encourages believers to remember God’s presence, God’s power and God’s promises.

God’s presence is seen in the phrase, “I am with you.” How encouraging to know that no matter what we face, God always is with us! “Fear not,” He says, “for I am with you.” God’s power is seen in the Hebrew name by which He identifies Himself in this verse: “Elohim,” a word that underscores God’s greatness as creator and sovereign ruler. The promises of God are found in the three simple “I will” statements in the verse. God promises to do three things: “I will strengthen you … help you..(and) … uphold you.”

This is a God who cares for His children, a God who delights in helping Christians conquer their fears in the new year. Memorize this verse and recall it when approached by the bully of fear.

The Rev. Todd Linn is pastor of First Baptist Church in Henderson, Ky.

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