We seem to be in a time with a heightened sense of fear. Recently, I was listening to a newscast where the commentators where terrified about the American economy. They used words like “fiscal cliff,” “devastating,” “traumatic,” “life-changing,” “meltdown,” and “depression.” Whether their analysis is correct or not, the tone of their comments could not help but bring fear and anxiety to those listening.

All of us are constantly challenged by fear: financial crises, health issues, family concerns, local crime, the neighbor’s dog, and even driving in traffic. Fear is one of our God-given emotions to cause us to be alert, to warn us that danger is lurking, and to prepare us to act. But fear can also paralyze us and lead to anxiety, worry, and all kind of physical effects in our body. Fear is to be a guide, not the controller of our being. It calls us to pay attention, but it is not an emotion by which we are meant to live.

The most often used words of Jesus in the New Testament are: “Do not fear.” He did not mean that we should not be aware of our fear. He meant that we should not live in our fear. Fear can terrorize one’s life. He wants us to know that God is with is in all our circumstances and will guide us and direct us regardless of what we face.

Jesus tells us that as we seek the things of God and attempt to follow His ways, what we need will be provided as we obey and trust Him – food, clothing, health, time, guidance, etc. (Matthew 6:21-33) In our culture of abundance, it is easy to fear the loss of so many of our wants and greeds. We forget the important things in our lives.

The biggest weapon we have against fear controlling us is our faith that God is with us. Knowing that His Presence is with me - right now - empowers me to have the courage to face what is before me. His Holy Spirit, who indwells us, empowers us to move forward with caution and wisdom. Joshua 1:9 says: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”