Just opening the news app on your phone can trigger a cascade of stress as we wonder warily what’s coming next.
But with God’s help, we don’t have to be overrun by our fears. In fact, we can have faith over fear, Jesus tells us not to let our hearts be afraid or allow ourselves to be agitated and disturbed:
Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.
John 14:27 AMPC
In other words, we are not victims of our fear. Fear is a normal human emotion, and it serves good purposes when we listen to it appropriately – but we can choose not to let it control our hearts.
When the world around us seems scary and unstable, we need to fight even harder to choose faith over fear. Here are 9 spiritual choices we can make instead of panicking, even in the midst of an unprecedented year of crisis, to choose faith over fear.
What does having faith over fear mean?
Fear, according to Collins Dictionary, is “Fear is the unpleasant feeling you have when you think that you are in danger.” It goes on: “If you say that there is a fear that something unpleasant or undesirable will happen, you mean that you think it is possible or likely.”
Faith, on the other hand, is more or less the opposite. Consider the succinct and beautiful definition of faith in Hebrews:
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
Hebrews 11:1 NIV
If fear is the nagging feeling that something bad will happen, faith is the confidence that something that we hope for will come to pass, regardless of whether or not we can see it. At its most basic level, the decision to choose faith over fear is believing in the spiritual—that there are forces stronger than the tangible world around us.
Therefore, faith in God is choosing to believe in his goodness: his desire to love, bless, and be in a relationship with us. And it’s believing in both his willingness and ability to follow through on his promises.
Can you be afraid and still have faith?
Fear is a natural human response to any number of situations we face in our daily lives. As Northwestern Medicine puts it, fear is biologically a “survival response.” So long as we are breathing, we’re likely to encounter circumstances that make us feel afraid on a regular basis.
Jesus knew this well, and made it a point to push his disciples to believe in him despite objectively frightening situations:
As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.”  So they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed).  But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water.  Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”
 When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm.  Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”  The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!”
Mark 4:35-41 NLT
Jesus wasn’t telling his disciples that the storm wasn’t a big deal, or that they were panicking for nothing. He was trying to inspire them to believe in something more powerful than the winds and waves. With that challenge, Jesus reminds us today that even in the midst of being afraid, we can choose to believe in God, his promises, and his power, and find peace to overcome our fear.
How to choose faith over fear (9 steps)
What follows are nine practical steps you can take to apply the Bible in any number of situations where your fear is threatening to overwhelm you. Take some time to review these steps, and perhaps write down ways you’d like to put them into practice.
1. Choose to write your own headlines
If you’re going to choose faith over fear, you’re going to have to decide how to handle the constant barrage of scary news headlines.
I love this popular quote that has been circling social media lately:
This quote is a beautiful illustration of an important biblical truth: love has the power to banish fear. So if you’ve been overcome by worry lately, one way to fight it is to replace it with love.
God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day – our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life – fear of death, fear of judgment – is one not yet fully formed in love.
1 John 4:17 MSG
Today, banish your fear by writing some loving headlines of your own. Make a care package for a friend and drop it on their porch to brighten their day. Bake cookies for your family. Write a card for someone and put it in the mail. Do something special to encourage your spouse.
Every choice we make to love will banish fear from our hearts.
Pause and reflect
What loving headlines happened in your life today?
How can you choose to love your spouse, roommates, coworkers, or neighbors today?
What headlines can you write tomorrow?
2. Choose to deal with your baggage
“Baggage” is a term often used to describe emotions from the past that get in the way of the present. Sometimes, we carry around spiritual baggage from the past that stops us from having faith over fear in the present.
Tests and challenges have a way of exposing this spiritual baggage:
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.
James 1:2-5 MSG
If you’re struggling to have faith over fear in the midst of tests and challenges, dealing with spiritual baggage of the past will help.
One of the biggest pieces of spiritual “baggage” I’ve seen in my life this year is unbelief (Hebrews 3:12).
As friends of mine have boldly prayed for vaccines, I’ve found myself doubting: Will God answer my prayers? Will he do the impossible? Does he care about my needs?
These doubts are like pieces of spiritual baggage I carry around with me. They make me fearful and self-reliant in a time I really need to be faithful.
Let’s take a look at a man in the Bible named Saul who had some experience with hiding behind baggage:
Next, Samuel brought each clan of Benjamin there, and the LORD chose the Matri clan. Finally, Saul the son of Kish was chosen. But when they looked for him, he was nowhere to be found.  The people prayed, “Our LORD, is Saul here?” “Yes,” the LORD answered, “he is hiding behind the baggage.”
 The people ran and got Saul and brought him into the middle of the crowd. He was more than a head taller than anyone else.  “Look closely at the man the LORD has chosen!” Samuel told the crowd. “There is no one like him!” The crowd shouted, “Long live the king!
1 Samuel 10:21-24 NCV
In this moment, God revealed Saul as his chosen king. And where was Saul? Hiding. Behind the baggage.
Outwardly, Saul seemed to have every reason to be confident and secure. He had been chosen by God himself. He was more than a head taller than anyone else, which would undoubtedly have been beneficial for a king who also needed to be a warrior. The prophet Samuel even said there was “no one like him.”
So why wouldn’t he step confidently forward into his new role – secure as God’s chosen one and ready to lead God’s people to victory?
As we’ll see later in Saul’s story, Saul had some unaddressed fear and insecurity. Not only did he hide behind physical baggage, but he also had spiritual baggage that plagued him throughout his life because he didn’t deal with it.
Let’s learn a lesson from Saul and choose to deal with our spiritual baggage. I’m learning that I can become stronger in my faith when I decide to deal with my doubts by talking about them, praying about them, and finding scriptures that help me challenge them.
Pause and reflect
Do you have any unaddressed fears or doubts that are affecting your faith in God?
Choose to deal with this spiritual baggage by being honest about it, and finding scriptures daily that help you believe God more than your doubts or fears.
3. Choose to come out of hiding
There’s no question that being called to lead God’s people as their first king would have been scary. But Saul chose to handle this challenge by hiding. He became “nowhere to be found” (1 Samuel 10:21).
When I’m afraid, I hide as Saul did. I hide what I think and feel. I hide my guilt. I hide behind work and my busy schedule so I don’t have to connect.
I’m not always aware that I’m hiding, so here are some signs that I’ve become “nowhere to be found”:
I rely on texting and avoid phone calls. You can hide a lot of what you really think and feel in a text message.
I use my free time for myself and solo activities, like watching TV, thinking that these will be more refreshing than connecting with people.
I develop a reputation of being too busy to talk. My friends start telling me “I know you’re really busy …” and seem to feel bad calling me.
I have a lot of excuses as to why I can’t hang out with people (even virtually). “I’ll be too tired, I have too much to do, today’s not a good day,” etc.
I don’t share my real thoughts and feelings even when I am around other people.
Has your fear made you go into hiding? Have you become more isolated and distant in relationships, or more connected through this pandemic?
Though we need to keep physical distance from each other, we don’t need to maintain emotional or spiritual distance from one another.
We can choose faith over fear by choosing to come out of hiding and be connected.
Discover creative ways to encourage others and to motivate them toward acts of compassion, doing beautiful works as expressions of love.  This is not the time to pull away and neglect meeting together, as some have formed the habit of doing, because we need each other! In fact, we should come together even more frequently, eager to encourage and urge each other onward as we anticipate that day dawning.
Hebrews 10:24-25 TPT
We need each other, and this is not the time to pull away from meeting together (even virtually). Spiritual relationships help us to choose faith over fear and help urge us onward.
In a time of a global pandemic, fighting the temptation to hide is even more critical because we are all more naturally isolated from one another. It’s easier to sink into your fears when you are alone because you have no one to give you perspective and, since we’re all a bit physically isolated, other people might not notice.
But if you want to choose faith over fear, don’t hide. Reach out to spiritual friends so they can encourage you, and you can encourage them. Everyone needs encouragement in these difficult times and looking for ways to encourage someone else might take your mind off your own fears.
Pause and reflect
Do you see any signs that your fear has made you go into hiding?
How can you choose faith over fear and “step out of hiding” to connect with a friend or two today?
4. Choose to listen to God more than yourself
Early the next morning he went to talk with Saul. Someone told him, “Saul went to Carmel, where he had a monument built so everyone would remember his victory. Then he left for Gilgal.” 13] Samuel finally caught up with Saul, and Saul told him, “I hope the LORD will bless you! I have done what the LORD told me.”  Samuel continued, “You may not think you’re very important, but the LORD chose you to be king, and you are in charge of the tribes of Israel.
 When the LORD sent you on this mission, he told you to wipe out those worthless Amalekites.  Why didn’t you listen to the LORD? Why did you keep the animals and make him angry?”  “But I did listen to the LORD!” Saul answered. “He sent me on a mission, and I went. I captured King Agag and destroyed his nation.
1 Samuel 15:12-13,17-20 CEV
Saul’s fear continued to plague him as he led the people of Israel. He was insecure; he didn’t think he was very important, and he was afraid of what people thought of him (1 Samuel 15:24).
Instead of turning to God to find confidence and courage, Saul chose to handle his fear by becoming proud, self-reliant, and deceitful. He built a monument to himself, to make sure everyone remembered his victory. He chose to ignore God’s direct instructions, do things his way, and then lie about it to appear more faithful than he was.
Regardless of what Saul felt about himself, God chose him to lead and told him what to do. Saul could have chosen to listen to and trust God instead of his fear and insecurity.
Likewise, regardless of what we may feel about ourselves, God has good things planned for each of us to do:
God has made us what we are. In Christ Jesus, God made us new people so that we would spend our lives doing the good things he had already planned for us to do.
Ephesians 2:10 – ERV
What “good things” do you think God wants you to do? Have you been choosing to listen to him and trust him, or have you been following your fear and insecurity?
5. Choose to obey God’s Word
“Rebelling against God or disobeying him because you are proud is just as bad as worshiping idols or asking them for advice. You refused to do what God told you, so God has decided that you can’t be king.” “I have sinned,” Saul admitted. “I disobeyed both you and the LORD. I was afraid of the army, and I listened to them instead.
1 Samuel 15:23-24 CEV
Saul was focused on people rather than God. He listened to and followed his fear of what people thought of him, and that led him to rebel against God.
I don’t think of myself as a rebellious person, but I see this scripture play out in my life in my fears of building relationships. Recently a friend of mine was going through a challenging time. I was afraid of saying the wrong thing, afraid I wouldn’t know what to do to help her, and fearful of burdening her if I called. So I didn’t reach out at all.
Eventually, a few of my other friends helped me see that my fear makes me rebellious toward being the kind of friend God wanted me to be. God says to encourage each other daily (Hebrews 3:12) and carry each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), among many other things, which is far more than what I was doing.
Telling myself the truth that I was rebelling against God wasn’t pleasant, but it empowered me to change. I realized I wasn’t a victim of my fears and insecurities. I got reconnected with my friend, and she shared how encouraged she was just to talk and have someone listen.
Choosing to obey God’s Word in the Scriptures is a way I can choose faith over fear and overcome my fears of people’s opinions.
Pause and reflect
Do you focus more on how people feel about you rather than what God’s will is?
How much do you second-guess yourself? How preoccupied are you with people’s opinions versus obeying God’s Word?
6. Choose to walk with God daily
For God gave us not a spirit of fearfulness; but of power and love and discipline.
1 Timothy 1:7 ASV
If we walk with God daily, God gives us a spirit of power, love, and discipline to help us. If we want to overcome a fearful, insecure spirit, and turn into someone who chooses faith over fear, we need to decide to walk with God every day.
According to the CDC, American adults have been experiencing significant increases in mental health symptoms as the pandemic continues. These symptoms include anxiety and mental distress – even among those who never had these symptoms before.
We are living in very stressful times. One way to choose faith over fear is to ask yourself what could be different in your walk with God.
Have you been spending quality time with God daily? Has your walk with God become a religious habit, where you no longer believe or obey Scriptures? Have you begun seeking something else more than God?
God said to me once and for all, “All the strength and power you need flows from me!” And again I heard it clearly said,  “All the love you need is found in me!” And it’s true that you repay people for what they do.
Psalm 62:11-12 TPT
God has all the strength and power we need. When we spend time with him, it will flow into our lives.
If you’ve been struggling to have the bandwidth to keep up with your own life, and don’t feel you have the energy to love anyone else or have faith, know that God promises his love, strength, and power can flow into your heart.
One choice we can make to choose faith over fears is being humble enough to ask God for the strength, power, and love we need in our lives and relationships.
Pause and reflect
How much energy and passion have you been putting into walking closely with God each day?
7. Choose to hate fear and unbelief
But for the fearful, and unbelieving, and abominable, and murderers, and fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, their part shall be in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death.
Revelation 21:8 ASV
This intense verse gives us a glimpse of the kind of conviction God wants us to have about fear and unbelief. God lists them right next to murder, fornication, sorcery, and abomination.
Those of us who are religious tend to think fear and unbelief aren’t really “bad” sins. But we don’t always take them seriously as God does.
Decide to believe today that living in fear and unbelief is serious, so you can be passionate about choosing faith over fear instead.
Pause and reflect
Do you have this kind of conscience about being fearful and unbelieving?
8. Choose to pray instead of being enslaved to fear
So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”
Romans 8:15 NLT
This verse is an excellent reminder that we have not received a spirit that makes us fearful slaves. If you are living as a slave to your fear, take a minute to remember that you have a choice.
Instead of living by a spirit of fear, we can follow God’s Spirit by humbly coming close to God in prayer like a child. God wants to comfort us and take care of us like a father comforts and reassures his children.
Pause and reflect
Have you been living as a slave to your fear? What fears have been enslaving you?
What are some things you’ve been feeling fearful about? Have you spent more time worrying about them or praying about them? Take time to humbly ask God for help with them today.
9. Choose to feed your faith instead of your fear
And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great Calm.
Matthew 8:26 ASV
He said to them, Why are you so timid and fearful? How is it that you have no faith (no firmly relying trust)?
Mark 4:40 AMPC
And He said to them, “Where is your faith [your confidence in Me]?” They were afraid and astonished, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the sea, and they obey Him?”
Luke 8:25 AMP
We can choose faith over fear by believing in the incredible power of God to calm storms.
Jesus calmed life-threatening storms and waves. Our faith in him can calm fear because we trust he is more powerful than the storms around us, and cares deeply about us.
We can feed our faith by filling our minds with scriptures (Romans 10:17) more than news articles or social media, taking extra time to pray throughout the day, and working hard to connect with our spiritual friends daily for encouragement.
If you need more specific ideas, try feeding your faith with some of these practicals:
Listen to an audio Bible while you do household chores.
Make yourself a go-to set of Scriptures you can keep on your phone to read when you’re afraid, insecure, or worried.
Plan extra prayer walks in the afternoon or evening.
Make playlists of songs that help you think about God. Listen to it in the car or at home to fill your mind with faith.
Partner up with a friend to pray together each week for an end to the pandemic.
Don’t let yourself get isolated. Find a few people you can safely connect with regularly so you can get the encouragement of fellowship.
Take faith risks by reaching out to help others. Seeing God work through your life will build your faith.
Pause and reflect
How much have you been proactively feeding your faith?
Have you been filling your mind with things that build your faith in God or things that fuel your fear?
We’re living in difficult and unprecedented times. But with God’s help, we don’t have to be overrun by fear. Let’s work to choose faith over fear instead of giving in to worry.