When is it okay to avoid what I fear?


All of us have fears, some seem more rational than others.  God tells us that we should not worry. In fact the most used command in the Bible is "Fear Not." This is much easier said than done. Worrying shows that we don't trust God, but are there ever any circumstances where we should avoid our fears?  If we are fearful of heights, should we force ourselves to climb up a tall building to show fear doesn't dominate us and that we trust God? Should we always face every fear to show that we trust God?

In this article below are some thoughts that have been taken from Pastor David Whiting.  The link to the source material can be found here: Worry, Anxiety, and Fear: Your Tests of Faith.

When is it okay to avoid what I fear?

If you are afraid of the dark, should you force yourself to get into a dark room so you can show yourself that fear won't conquer you and that you trust God?  To start, this idea has a flawed focus.  The focus is on overcoming fear, not pleasing God.  A better question to ask yourself would be "If the goal my life is to please God, what do I need to do right now?" Your primary goal in life needs to be to please God not eliminate or avoid your fears.  Here are several questions you should ask yourself that will help you think through whether you should face your fears.  Each situation and person is different, so there are no specific, correct answers. You need to answer these questions honestly, in your own life.

You might need help from others to get an honest perspective of whether you should engage a fear or not. Often our protective nature will kick in and we will justify our responses so we won't have to face our fears.

1. Does your fear keep you from loving God wholeheartedly?

If you fear crowds, will going to a baseball game and standing in the middle of crowds help you trust God more? Most of the time not, but if your fear of crowds keeps you from going to church, where we are commanded to "not forsake the assembling of ourselves together" (Heb. 10:25), then that fear is getting in your way of wholeheartedly loving God.

2. Does your fear keep you from loving others properly?

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
1 John. 4:18

Most people think the opposite of fear is courage.  The Bible shows us differently.  The opposite of fear is not courage, but love. Love should motivate us beyond our fears. If you fear crowds, but someone you truly love falls in the middle of a crowd and is hurt, you will overcome your fears and go to them. When your fears keep you from loving others, you need to respond by doing the opposite.  When you do this, you are trusting God.  

3. Does your fear display your selfishness

If you fear flying to the point that you won’t go to a family members funeral, you are showing your selfishness. You would rather be comfortable than comfort others in need.  So you don't always need to fly, but if your fear of flying shows your selfishness, then respond by trusting God and living out this verse

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
Philippians 2:3-4

This will not always be easy, in fact, if I am honest, this will be hard. You might struggle with big fears, little fears, and all the fears in between throughout your life.  Just because you fear something, doesn't mean you have to engage in that fear (like if you fear bugs, you should have to touch them).  If your fears keep you from pleasing God, look past your fears to Him. He provides help, strength, peace through the situations. God just might be allowing you to go through this so you can see that He is trustworthy. If your fear keeps you from pleasing God, you need to face that fear.