May 23, 2013
A few days ago a reader emailed a question someone had raised in her small group —
How is it not justifiable to worry about a fear that comes true?
For example, if I fear cancer for years, then get cancer, I feel justified for fearing it because I was right. Can you speak to that?
I’m sure many have wondered about this, so I thought I’d post my answer here.
Thanks for sharing this question. Here’s my restatement of what the person is asking —
I hear that I should not worry or be afraid; that instead of worrying or being afraid, I should trust God. But why not worry or be afraid if bad things can actually happen to me?
This is a crucial question. So let’s start here —
Can Bad Things Actually Happen To Believers?
The questioner is right. Bad things can happen to believers. Look at these Scriptures —
In the world you will have tribulation. (John 16:33)
… through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. (Acts 14:22)
For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake. (Phil 1:29)
So Jesus promises that those who trust Him will experience bad things — trials and tribulation and suffering.
But if that’s true, then how can we not worry? Why would we not be afraid?
It’s because God gives us three wonderful promises which can fill us with peace and free us from fear.
First — God promises to fill you with joy in Christ now and forever.
Look at how David describes God in Psalm 16:11 —
In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Through trusting Christ you are not only forgiven for all your sins. You will also have times when God shows you Jesus’ glory so powerfully that you overflow with joy.
This is not joy in health or wealth — those are minor league joys. This is joy in God as He is revealed in Christ — infinite joy, all-satisfying joy, overwhelming joy.
This is the heart of the Christian life: seeking and experiencing the joy of knowing Jesus Christ. That’s taught in Scriptures like Psa 4:6-7; Psa 73:25-26; Matt 13:44; John 4:13-14; John 6:35; John 7:37-38; Phil 3:8; and 1Pet 1:8.
Second — God promises to use every trial to bring you even more joy in Christ.
That’s what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:17 —
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison…
Paul says our earthly trials are momentary and light when compared to the everlasting and weighty joy of knowing Christ.
And — he says our trials here on earth are preparing this eternal weight of glory for us. Which means that God will use every trial to show us more of Jesus’ glory, so we experience more joy in Jesus’ glory now and forever.
So every trial that comes your way is a gift from God of more heart-satisfying joy in Jesus’ glory. That’s taught in Scriptures like Rom 5:3-5; 2Cor 12:9; James 1:2-4; and 1Pet 1:3-8.
But what about all the problems created by trials? That’s the final promise —
Third — God promises to take care of every problem created by every trial.
Take cancer, for example. That would create lots of problems — decisions that have to be made, suffering that must be endured, bills that must be paid — and on and on.
But look at what God promises —
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:19)
Every need — including wisdom to make tough decisions (James 1:5), grace to suffer (2Cor 9:8), money for medical bills (Matt 6:33), and strength to keep going (Phil 4:13).
God will fully supply every need brought about by every problem.
Trusting God’s Promises
Can you see how trusting these promises will free you from fear and worry?
Imagine facing a difficult, painful, exhausting 20-mile hike up and over a high mountain. That might fill you with fear and worry.
But what if it was guaranteed that during the hike you’d receive everything you needed — encouragement, water, granola bars, strength, everything.
And — what if it was guaranteed that at the end of the hike you’d receive fifty million dollars. Whoa.
Now how would you feel about the hike? Would you worry? Feel fear? No. You’d want to start hiking.
So here’s the good news — Jesus’ glory is infinitely more satisfying than fifty million dollars.
And — God promises to use every trial to bring us more joy in Christ.
And — God promises to take care of every need produced by every trial.
But there’s a problem. Sin makes us doubt these promises.
So what we must do is —
Fight The Fight Of Faith
When you are fearful or worried about a trial, that shows sin is making you doubt God’s promises. So you need to go to war, with prayer and God’s Word, to conquer your unbelief and strengthen your faith.
So here are steps I’ve found helpful.
Start by turning your heart toward Jesus. Come to Him just as you are — with your doubts, fears, and worries (Luke 18:13).
Confess any known sin and receive assurance that you are completely forgiven through Christ’s death (1 John 1:9).
Ask Him for more of the Spirit’s work to conquer your unbelief and strengthen your faith in His promises (Luke 11:13).
Read and pray over each of the three promises listed above, along with other relevant Scriptures, until you feel the Holy Spirit strengthening your faith that —
- Jesus is your all-satisfying joy now and forever.
- God will use every trial to bring you even more joy in Christ.
- God will take care of every other need you have.
As you fight the fight of faith, you will experience the Spirit strengthening your faith. You will feel your worry and fear disappear. And you will be filled with peace — and even joy.
So start hiking.
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And here are some related posts you might find helpful –
- Is This Trial From Satan Or God?
- A Promise For Those Disappointed By God
- What Is The Peace Of Christ?
- How You Can Take Refuge In God
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