Lesson 1: Got Fear? Trust Your GodRelated Media
“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere man do to me?” Psalm 56:3-4
Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you through this lesson.
The Gift of Fear
You know that feeling. The pit in your stomach, pounding of your heart, and rush of your thoughts as you go from just the possibility of a job loss to starving and being homeless on the streets—all in a matter of seconds. Gripped by fear, although an imagined one.
Fear is a normal human emotion designed by God to alert us to danger so that we will take action against it. It has a purpose. It tells us to take precautions, to be wise in our dealings with strangers and strange situations. We need to think of it as a gift.
We know fear has a dark side as well. Bible teacher Jill Briscoe has often said, “Women are a fear-driven, performance-oriented species.” Just watching the daily news can panic us. But, what did she mean by fear-driven? Why would fear drive us? And, what does fear drive us to do?
Women in general are created with a nesting instinct, a need for security and stability, and a desire to control our environment in order to create that security for us and for those we love. Our American way of thinking is this: we can fix it—whatever “IT” is. When we cannot fix it, we panic.
Fear can be real or imagined. For me, a real fear is meeting a snake in my woodsy yard while gardening. I know they are there so I carefully do everything I can to avoid interaction with them.
I experienced an imagined fear as my youngest daughter was growing up. That fear manifested itself in ongoing nightmares about her being kidnapped or molested. She was never threatened that way, but she was friendly and outgoing. I guess I thought she was more vulnerable than my older, more cautious daughter. When that young daughter became a strong teen girl who was daily hockey-checking her older brother into the wall as they met each other in the hallway, those nightmares stopped. I guess my subconscious recognized that she could handle herself.
1. Consider examples of both real fears and imagined ones in your life.
Fear is an ever-present emotion with most women—real fears as well as imagined ones. Is it realistic to think we can live without fear? No!
Our faithful God understands this about us.
2. Read Psalm 56:3-4. Write out these verses on a card or in your journal.
3. Reading back over the verses, underline the phrases that tell you what to do when you are afraid.
Notice that David doesn’t write, “If I am afraid.” He says, “When I am afraid.” Fear will happen.
God gave us the emotion of fear. It was given with a purpose—to alert us to danger so that we will take action against it. Yet, sudden fear can cause us to be terrified. We can let fear take root in us so that we give way to panic and hysteria. Does that ring any bells with you? Are you prone to hysterics?
God knows this about us. When we are afraid, God wants us to trust Him and not give way to fear. Learning to do that is our walk from fear to faith.
Trusting a Faithful God
“When we look at life just with our own eyes, we become fearful, pessimistic, & negative. We become people who feel, ‘I don’t know if that can work. I don’t know if I can get through this.’ When we look at the Scriptures and begin to…see how God empowered normal average people like you and I, the Holy Spirit takes the Word of God and strengthens us and gives us courage that we didn’t know we had.” (Steve Hixon, pastor)
Because God understands this tendency to fear and panic, the Holy Spirit inspired Peter to write to us women in 1 Peter 3:3-6 words that strengthen us and give us courage we didn’t know we could have.
4. Read 1 Peter 3:3-6. What does God consider to be great worth in His sight (verse 4)?
Although the focus of this passage is a marriage relationship, the principles relate to any woman’s character (“inner self”), especially the qualities of a GENTLE and QUIET spirit that are precious in God’s sight. These enable a woman to “do what is right and not give way to fear” (verse 6).
But, you may be thinking, “How can that apply to me? I have a bubbly personality. I’m not naturally quiet.” Before you start feeling put out about these words or afraid that you could never measure up to this, let’s find out what “gentle” and “quiet” actually mean.
Gentle = Controlled strength
“GENTLE” does not mean passive, weak, or someone who cannot help herself. Rather, it means “controlled strength.” Picture a mother cradling a newborn. She has the physical strength to harm that child but doesn’t because her strength is under control. If you are going to have a gentle spirit, what will you need? Strength under control.
A woman with a gentle spirit has a humble heart that bows itself before God, recognizes God’s dealings with her as good, and chooses not to be contentious or resistant against Him.
Quiet = Tranquility from within
“QUIET” does not mean whisper, silent, or bland. It does mean “tranquility arising from within” and includes the idea of causing no disturbance to others. Think how a woman’s hysterics affect those around her—family, friends, and coworkers.
A woman with a quiet spirit has an inner peace and calmness in the midst of any circumstance. Have you experienced that kind of peace?
Gentleness and peace are the fruit of the Holy Spirit’s work (Gal. 5: 22-23) in a believer’s life and available to every Christian woman who desires them—that includes you and me! We can have a tranquil spirit in the midst of chaos. See how it fits with the “strength under control” mindset?
5. Now that you know the real meanings of these words, are you more likely to desire these qualities? Why?
6. Why do you think these qualities in a woman would be so precious – of great worth – to God?
7. Read these verses again. Look at the three choices women can make—identified by (1), (2), and (3).
“For this is the way the holy women of the past who (1) put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful…like Sarah…You are her daughters if you (2) do what is right and (3) do not give way to fear.” (1 Peter 3:5-6, NIV)
Peter identifies these examples for us as “holy women of the past.” The word “holy” means set apart for God’s special use. These women are holy because they had learned to trust in God when they were afraid. As holy women, these women were beautiful in God’s eyes (regardless of their outward appearance, age or societal status). This beauty attributed to them by God Himself was based on three choices they made (“used to make themselves beautiful”) that every woman can also make:
- Choice #1: You can put your hope in God—in God and His Word rather than the unreliability of ourselves or others.
- Choice #2: You can do what is right—according to God’s way of approaching life, not the world’s way, especially those cultural practices that go against God’s Word.
- Choice #3: You can choose to not give way to fear. Let’s examine this one more closely.
Choose to not give way to fear
Choose to not give way to fear. What does that mean?
We know this: God’s not saying, “Don’t ever feel fear?” God gave us the gift of fear as a normal human emotion designed to alert us to danger so we can take action against it. He’s saying, “Here’s why you don’t have to be terrified and paralyzed by your fear.” We are to face our troubles without panic and hysteria. We are to TRUST GOD—in whom we have put our hope and by whose Word we are taught to do what is right.
8. Have you ever felt terrified? How did you respond?
God says that having a gentle and quiet inner spirit will make it easier for us not to get so terrified and stay that way.
9. What’s harder for God: rescuing us from desperate circumstances or developing in us a gentle and quiet spirit?
Did you select the “developing in us a gentle and quiet spirit?” I agree because it involves our cooperation! Is it too difficult for Him? No! A humble, peaceful heart makes it easier for us to face troubles without panic and hysteria and to choose to trust in the faithfulness of God.
We have a faithful God. That’s not imaginary. In 1 Peter 3, Sarah represents several other everyday women who lived in Old Testament days who put their hope in God and found Him worthy of their trust. This was their walk from fear to faith. What is that?
Your Faith Walk
In the Bible, “walk” refers to following a certain course of life or conducting oneself in a certain way. It’s your daily life. How you choose to live daily. What motivates you. What guides you. What decisions you make in how you will respond to life. Will your daily walk follow God’s way of approaching life or the world’s way? Your walk is your choice.
For the purposes of this study, your choice involves moving away from fear and toward faith. Most of us have a pretty good understanding of fear in our lives. But, what is faith? God defines that for us Himself through the writer of Hebrews.
10, Read Hebrews 11:1. What is faith?
11. Read Hebrews 11:6. What must one believe about God?
Did you notice that faith is related to confidence? Confident hope and confident assurance that what we believe is true. That confidence is in the fact that our God exists and is good to anyone who seeks Him. This confidence pleases Him. Hebrews 11 continues to relate the lives of men and women who had this confidence in God.
12. Read the following verses. In each, who chose faith in God over giving way to fear?
- Hebrews 11:11—
- Hebrews 11:23—
- Hebrews 11:31—
13. Read Hebrews 11:35 (first half of verse). By faith, what did these women receive?
These are the women who are our examples of choosing faith in God over giving way to fear. Old Testament women.
Connecting with Old Testament Women
You may have very little knowledge of the Old Testament so these women may be strangers to you. Even though these women lived years ago, they were still women like we are.
As everyday women, they cooked meals, did laundry, and raised children. They had responsibilities inside and outside of their homes, including home businesses. They experienced hormone fluctuations and menopause. They laughed with their friends, differed with their mates, and cried when a loved one died. They wrote songs and played musical instruments. I bet they all found ways to use their 20,000 words per day!
At one time, they were 20-somethings, then 40-somethings, then 60-somethings and maybe more. They wore beads, earrings, and ankle bracelets. Their hair needed to be combed and fixed, and it turned grey as they aged. No doubt, some of them, if not all, had something on their bodies that sagged!
These women also experienced fear at various times in their lives just like we do. They faced invading enemies, sick family members, and empty pantries. They faced creditors and surprise houseguests. They even had “bad” days when things didn’t go right, sometimes due to their own choices.
These were everyday women, just like we are.
14. As women in general, what kind of life experiences for them might have been the same as your own life experiences?
15. What kinds of fears did these women face that you may also face?
Their stories—snippets of their biographies—are preserved for us to get to know them, and to know their God who is also our God—an ever-faithful God whose character never changes.
They knew Him by the personal name Yahweh (YAH-weh). In our English translations, it is usually written as LORD in capital letters. In the Old Testament, you’ll find the phrase “the LORD your God” or “the LORD our God” at least 500 times. Every time, that phrase is emphasizing, “We have a personal God. His name is Yahweh.” It’s the name by which God wished to be known and worshiped in Israel and by Israel, and it means, “I am.” This name expressed His character as constant, dependable and faithful.
Jesus applied God’s name “I am” to Himself (John 4:26; 8:59). Those listening knew he was declaring Himself to be God. So, the ever faithful, promise-keeping God of the Old Testament is embodied in the Lord Jesus Christ of the New Testament and forever. We still have a personal God.
Your Faith Walk
16. Read John 14:27 and 16:33. What does Jesus promise to you?
He is with you through any trouble. You can trust Him. Our God is trustworthy!
17. What might be holding you back from trusting Him whenever you are afraid?
“When we experience anxiety or fear, the enemy can try to use it as an opportunity to make us feel guilt or shame. That’s when we pause and ask God for help, knowing He understands and never condemns us.” (Holley Gerth, “Fear Not,” Homelife Magazine, March 2016)
Journal Your Faith Story
18. Describe a problem in your life (current or past) where you have needed to make a choice to do right, but the possible consequences have filled you with fear. What have you learned about trusting God and living by faith in that area?
Faith-in-Action: “Embrace 4 Truths Essential to Faith”
When we look at life just with our own eyes, we become fearful, pessimistic, & negative. We think to ourselves, “Nothing’s going to work. I don’t know if I can get through this.” But, when we look at the Bible and begin to see how God has empowered everyday people like you and I, the Holy Spirit takes the Word of God to strengthen us and give us courage that we didn’t know we had. Our examples are Old Testament women. As we join these Old Testament women on their faith walk, we will see consistent truths that we can embrace and apply to our lives today in our WALK FROM FEAR TO FAITH.
Truth #1: God loves you
John 3:16; John 16:27; Romans 5:5
You are part of that world that God loves. And, as a believer in Jesus, God the Father loves you and pours out His love into your heart so you can experience His love.
Truth #2: God knows what is going on in your life
Matthew 6:31-32; Psalm 139:1-10
God is everywhere and knows everything. So, God knows what is going on in your life. He knows your needs and how best to meet them.
Truth #3: God can do something about it
Genesis 18:14; Luke 1:37
Is anything impossible for the Lord? The answer is, NO! Our God is all-powerful. He is capable of doing anything He chooses to do that is in agreement with His character and His purposes.
Truth #4: You can trust His goodness in whatever He chooses to do
Psalm 119:68; Proverbs 3:5
The Bible says that God is good, and what He does is good. It’s a choice to trust God and bank on His goodness.
As we study each of these women—our mentors, we’ll see that during her faith walk, a loving God said “no” to some things. Yet, she chose to trust Him rather than submit to fear. And, God rewarded her faith with an outpouring of His blessing in other ways. You and I can do the same.
Dear friends, God may not choose to rescue you from everything that is threatening you. But, in any and all situations, you can embrace these truths, making them personal…
#1 God loves me.
#2 God knows what is going on in my life.
#3 God can do something about it.
#4 I can trust His goodness in whatever He chooses to do!
You can count on that!
19. What is causing you fear today? What are your choices for acting on that fear? Apply the 4 truths to your situation.
Pray about your fears and decisions you are making to trust God in them. Thank God for His grace toward you and His love for you.