Fighting for Faith: Fear and Anxiety
Before your Community Group:
Fill in the blank for this statement: as a person made in God’s image, I have emotions because _________________.
How do emotions reflect what’s happening in your heart? Look to verses like Psalm 42:5, James 4:1-2, Proverbs 15:13, John 11:35, Luke 22:44.
Are your emotions always accurate, and if not does that mean we should generally ignore them?
We will specifically think about the emotion of fear, anxiety and worry in this study guide.
Read Psalm 27:1-3, 11-12, Psalm 34:2-4, Matthew 6:25-33 and 1 John 4:18. What do these passages teach us about fear? Is there a positive purpose for fear in our Christian life? What does the scripture warn us about fear?
Fear, anxiety and worry generally seem to be rooted in the past, present or future (choose one)?
These community group study guides are not designed to provide an exhaustive approach to these different emotions we will be studying, but to help us interact at a basic level with these core emotions we experience as we follow Jesus in faith.
This study guide will interact around the emotion of fear, anxiety and worry. We could list out a dozen or more english synonyms for this emotion based on the different intensities we may be feeling. Fear, anxiety and worry are generally future focused, even if it centers on past circumstances, fear anxiety and worry tend to desire control and safety. While we can structure our lives and plan, Jesus teaches us in Matthew 6 that the future tends to be out of our control. This emotion can be read as unpleasant based on how it makes out bodies feel; elevated heart rates, restless thoughts, clammy palms, digestive issues, headaches and tensed muscles. However, as we explore Psalm 27, we learn that fear can be a gift in how it powerfully leads us to God.
Fear, anxiety and worry can range from a low grade concern for the future to abject terror; most of us experience it somewhere in-between those two extremes. We may wonder why we experience this emotion and if truly godly people never experience fear, anxiety and worry. Fear can certainly be useful when being chased by a wild animal or to motivate us to work when approaching a deadline, but when it is irrational and form into persistent worry and “what ifs” we know we can spiral out of control down a path of faithlessness. What we see in the scripture is that fear can be a powerful force to lead us to God, but can be a terrible place to call home. It is also a useful gauge or tool to reveal what is in your heart. Often during times of fear, anxiety and worry your heart is pointing out what you value or love and wish to have safety and control over whether it be health, wealth, success, or people in your life. Likewise, fear will either question or demand your trust — either you place your trust in God in times of fear, or work to secure your safety and comfort through a trust in self.
You’ll be interacting with Psalm 27 in the sermon and the study questions below. As we look at Psalm 27, you’ll notice in the first 3 verses that David is interacting with a time of fear. David uses the future tense to assess his fear and tell himself what is real and true; specifically, that he shall not fear. Psalm 27:3 in particular shows David telling his heart what is real and where he should place his hope. David’s fear is not irrational, but based on real circumstances. Psalm 27:11-2 tells us that there are real enemies who are speaking out lies about him and seeking his harm. David’s remedy is neither to ignore his fear or be controlled by his fear. Instead he uses it as an opportunity to draw near to God. In verse 4 David reveals his heart’s desire in the midst of his fear. It is not for the circumstances to be removed, or for the strength to overcome his enemies so he need not fear; his desire is to draw near to God in the midst of his fear. Look at all the safety language David uses in verse 5, see him state his core fear in verse 9 and finally, he makes a confession of faith and trust in verses 13-14. Fear is a great road to God and a good gauge of what we love and value; but it is a terrible master.
Questions for discussion:
Read Psalm 27:1-3, how does David interact with his fear in these verses? Does he ignore his fear, let his fear rule over him or something else?
List out all the different ways David describes drawing near to God in worship. It can seem like a cliche sometimes, but why is intentional worship a powerful remedy to times of fear, anxiety and worry?
The sermon discussed 5 different things that can fuel or fear worry and anxiety (circumstances, concern for the future, options, living for the wrong audience and our physical bodies). Which one was in play for David in Psalm 27? What typically fuels your times of fear, worry and anxiety?
In Psalm 27:9-10, David seems to be expressing the root of his concern and worry. What does he ask of God in these verses? Why would this be a fear of his based on what we’ve read in the Psalm so far? How does this model to us how fear can function like a magnifying glass to our hearts?
Fear, anxiety and worry can be a catalyst for us to draw near to God like it was for David in Psalm 27. However, fear can also create isolation, destructive habits and self-medicating tendencies. What are some warning signs that fear, anxiety and worry are moving people away from God instead of towards them? What would be a loving way to care for one another when you see this happening?