A few years ago we made the decision to move from homeschooling our younger two sons and sent them to school, 3rd grade and kindergarten. This was a rough transition for both of them, but particularly (and understandably) for our 3rd grader. Like his mama, he was afraid of failing, of standing out, of doing something wrong. He mourned for the safety of home, even when what he really needed was the risk and reward of the big wide world.
We talked to him nonstop about bravery, “Be brave!”, “You’re so brave!”, “You can be brave!” I’m embarrassed to think about how frustrated we got with him when he refused to be brave, especially considering my own wealth of personal experience in this area.
When has telling myself to be brave EVER helped me be less afraid??
Answer: Never. It has never helped me.
I should have known that courage is not the opposite of fear. Courage is being afraid and doing it anyway.
So what is the opposite of fear?
As I’ve studied verses from the Bible about fear, I think I’ve found if not THE answer, then at least AN answer.
For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. (Romans 8: 14-17)
In Romans 9, Paul contrasts the “spirit of slavery leading to fear” with “the Spirit of adoption as sons.”
Is it possible that a strong sense of belonging, of sonship (or daughterhood!) can inoculate us from fear?
Could I live so deeply into the connection to my Father as a child of God and fellow heir (brother or sister) with Christ that I could be brave, be afraid and do what I need to do anyway?
I’ve got some scary things coming at me soon – nothing big, just normal life stuff that happens to trigger my own personal set of insecurities and fears. I bet you’re facing down scary situations as well, probably scarier than mine.
Perhaps there’s an alternative to telling ourselves there’s nothing to be afraid of (because chances are, there are actually things to be afraid of, in each of our lives); or shouting at ourselves to be brave (because when has that ever worked for any of us?) Perhaps we can instead lean into our relationship to God.
We can remind ourselves that we are children of God, the Living God, the God of history, the God of our forfathers, the God of Israel, the God of our Bible, God our creator, God our Father.
We can listen to the testimony of the Spirit of adoption-as-sons-and-daughters. Can I let the Spirit’s voice, the voice of belonging, grow louder in my head than the voice of fear?
I am afraid. But I belong to God. I am a child of God, my Father. Is that enough?
This post is the latest in the NO FEAR Devotional Series. Check back every Tuesday for the latest, and you can read the previous posts in the series here.
If this devotional resonated with you, feel free to share it using one of the links below: That really helps people to find this site, which hopefully will bless them as it has blessed you!