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A couple weeks ago when I was driving to Bible study, I heard DJs on the Christian radio station discussing whether faith and fear can coexist. While many believers have asserted that these two cannot coexist, these two radio hosts explained why they can.

So, who’s right?

As communicators, this is where it is so important for us to define our terms and explain what we mean. Or, if we are on the listening end, this is where it is crucial to ask questions and make sure we understand what the person is really saying. We would experience much less confusion and disagreement if we did these things.

co-: prefix – (forming verbs) together with another or others

exist: verb – to live; to continue to be

If we are being very literal with this question, we could rephrase it like this: Can faith and fear live together and continue to be together? But maybe we don’t mean it quite like this. Maybe what we are trying to ask is this: Can a believer have faith and still experience fear?

This past summer I endured a season of health unknowns. The “C” word came up as a real possibility, but there was a lot of waiting. Various tests, medical appointments, referral to a specialist, rescheduling on multiple occasions, surgery, and awaiting test results all contributed to a drawn-out process. With months of unknowns, what’s a girl to do?

Make no mistake, I experienced very real fear, worry, and panic. But having struggled with these things much of my life and knowing the havoc they would wreak on my mind and spirit, I knew what I had to do. It was time to run to Jesus.

“Jesus, I need You! You have to help me. I can’t do this without You.”

“Hold me together, Jesus.”

“Guard my heart and my mind, Jesus.”

These were the type of desperate prayers I prayed when the “what if” thoughts gravitated to worst case scenarios and all I could feel was alarm, dread, and panic. And every time, Jesus came through, calming my spirit and refocusing my perspective to a place of hope.

At other times, when my mind was racing, I would open up my journal filled with scriptures, prayers, praises, and declarations, and I would speak them aloud. This practice never failed to bring peace that soothed my soul. I made a practice of speaking these truths out loud daily because I knew my power was in Jesus and His Word.

I had an abnormally peaceful and hopeful summer considering the circumstances. Yes, there was tension in the waiting and there were moments of fear, but overall, I was fixed on the promises and character of God. And He faithfully held me together and gave me special glimpses of His personal love for me.

He didn’t work exactly as I would have liked. I would have preferred a healing miracle and divine deliverance from surgery, but instead I experienced the wonder of God’s peace covering me as I faced my fears of hospitals and surgery. I saw His care and favor in the details. And standing on the other side, I’m grateful for the journey He chose to take me through because I experienced His goodness even there.

My test results showed no “C.” (Thank You, Jesus!)  And although I still have the diagnosis of endometriosis, I am breathing a sigh of relief. But as I’m well aware, there will be other battles that will stir up fear in me.

We all face fear. Even the most faith-filled and influential Christians experience times when they are afraid. The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling…” (1 Corinthians 2:3). If this giant of the faith was not exempt, then clearly no one is.

Can a believer have faith and still experience fear? Yes! This is why there are so many scriptures that speak to fear. God knew this would be a reality we would face, and He wanted us to be equipped for such times.

Can faith and fear live together and continue to be together? Faith and fear are not compatible roommates. One will eventually kick the other one out. The question for you is, which one do you want to stay, and what role will you take in making that happen?

There is no shame in feeling afraid. This is part of being a human in our broken world. But faith is the weapon whereby we defeat the power of fear in our lives. This process looks different for each one of us. A victim of childhood trauma, for example, doesn’t typically “just trust God” and magically see fear disappear. It’s a complex journey. Someone else, on the other hand, may find peace easier to come by.

The key is to keep looking to Jesus, and relentlessly so.

“You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Isaiah 26:3

When we fix our eyes on the Lord, choosing to trust Him, we experience peace. Of course, as we all know, the battle of the mind is a real one, and it’s not once and done. It’s messy and not nearly as neat and easy as we would like. But it is possible to train our brains to focus on Jesus more and more, thereby experiencing greater measures of His peace.

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

Can faith and fear coexist? It’s inevitable that they’ll rub shoulders. But they can’t both make their home comfortably in your soul. So refuse to let fear dominate your life, and fight the good fight of faith.

Kimberly Vaughn

Kimberly Vaughn is The Connection’s blog editor, as well as a co-leader for their mentoring program, “Together.” She is a wife and a homeschool mom of two. Kimberly has a passion to encourage and build up other women, especially those who are hurting and broken. She has been involved in various aspects of ministry since graduating from Bible college 20 years ago.  It is her desire for women to experience hope and transformation in Jesus through the words she writes and speaks.

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