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  • Writer's pictureW. Austin Gardner

Overcoming fear

Gideon’s greatest weakness eventually becomes his greatest strength. He discovers that when he acknowledges he is weak and inadequate, God’s strength and adequacy prevail in him.

Imagine!… God has an encounter with a fear-filled Gideon and reveals truth to him both about the fearsome man of God he will become and the plan God has for him!… Then God supplies him with 32,000 men to accomplish that plan … but gradually reduces that number to only 300 men!

Finally God sends this band of 300 against the army of 135,000—with odds of 450 to 1—so that the victory would clearly be the Lord’s and His alone! And though no one man could ever defeat 450 men (the ratio God arranged) in his own strength, Gideon goes forth with a whole heart!

But not until God first removes the final kernel of fear residing in Gideon’s heart by sending him among the sleeping Midianites to overhear the interpretation of a dream.

Gideon moves from the testing of God to triumph with God … from a fear-based fleece to a faith-based foundation.

Previously, Gideon kept asking God for supernatural signs affirming that God would do what He clearly and repeatedly said He would do. (See Judges 6:36–40.) Ultimately, Gideon moves from weakness to strength, from doubt to faith, from vacillating to victorious—and he does so by trusting in the one true God and taking action based on that trust.

For it is God who gives Gideon victories in defeating both his foes … and his fears. Because of Gideon’s successes in saving his people from perishing … in conquering enemy kings … and in gaining victory over vast armies, his people ask him to rule over them. However, Gideon tells them,

“I will not rule over you.… The Lord will rule over you.”

(Judges 8:23)

God’s call on Gideon’s life is clear … he is to go in the Lord’s strength and “save Israel out of Midian’s hand” (Judges 6:14). But that call does not include ruling over Israel. Gideon knows this, and he also knows that God is not to be replaced by the man He made into a “mighty warrior” and empowered to accomplish His purposes. Gideon is still just a man … and God is still the Almighty Ruler of the universe.

As you seek to follow Gideon’s example in moving from fear to faith …

Begin with a healthy fear (awe) of God.

— Believe that God created you because He loves you.

— Believe that God has a purpose and a plan for your life.

— Believe that God has the right to have authority over you.

— Believe that God wants you to entrust your life to Him.

— Believe that God has the power to change you.

— Believe that God will keep you safe as you trust in Him.

(Proverbs 1:7)

Be aware that living in a “state of fear” is not part of God’s plan for you.

— Fear-based thinking suggests you may not be fully trusting God.

— Fear-based thinking does not appropriate the grace of God.

— Fear-based thinking keeps you in bondage to fear.

— Fear-based thinking is physically, emotionally, and spiritually damaging.

(Psalm 56:4)

Be willing to analyze your fear honestly to discover the real source of your fear.

— Fear of rejection.… Do you need to be loved?

— Fear of failure.… Do you need to feel significant?

— Fear of financial loss.… Do you need to feel secure?

(Proverbs 29:25)

Be aware of the power of God’s love for you.

— God’s love provides you with complete acceptance.

— God’s love provides you with a realization of your true value.

— God’s love provides you with the power to overcome fear.

— God’s love provides you with true security.

(Jeremiah 31:3)

Be committed to developing your faith in the Lord.

— Be actively involved in a Bible study. (2 Timothy 2:15)

— Be in daily prayer—truly talking with God. (Philippians 4:6)

— Be consistently active in a local church that teaches the Word of God. (Hebrews 10:25)

— Be committed to memorizing and meditating on God’s Word. (Philippians 4:8)

— Be obedient to God’s promptings in your spirit. (Philippians 4:5)

(Psalm 1:2)

Be involved with other believers.

— Be engaged with fellow Christians. (Hebrews 10:25)

— Be willing to testify to God’s faithfulness in your life. (Lamentations 3:22–23)

— Be focused on serving others. (Philippians 4:10)

— Be aware of the twofold responsibility (Christ’s and yours) in assisting others in need. (Philippians 4:13–14)

— Be accountable to a small intimate group of growing Christians.

(Proverbs 27:17)

Begin using truth from God’s Word to rein in your fear-producing imagination the moment it starts spinning out of control.

(Psalm 56:3)

(Psalm 27:1)

(Psalm 46:1)

Be willing to face the situations you fear through faith in the power of Christ.

— Know that Christ is always ready to respond to your needs.

— Acknowledge His actual presence and call for His help.

— Release your fear to Him and receive His powerful love.

— Act in love toward others by focusing on their needs and relying on God.

(1 Thessalonians 5:24)

Become free from your fear and strengthened in your faith.

— Become more trusting.

— Become more peaceful.

— Become more thankful.

— Become more Christlike.

(Colossians 2:6–7)

June Hunt, Biblical Counseling Keys on Fear: No Longer Afraid (Dallas, TX: Hope For The Heart, 2008), 16–25.

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