Faith and Fear Can Co-Exist

“When I am afraid,
I will trust in You.”
Psalm 56:3 HCSB

Feeling crushed by enemies too hard for him, David asked God for His free, rich mercy only He can give.

This same David bravely conquered a lion and a bear and the giant Goliath in his youth. Yet now he admits how afraid he is. The enemies who seek to destroy him are relentless in pursuing him.

He didn’t deny the presence of fear in his heart, but he found courage in trusting God to do what could not be done by human power alone.

“He feared, but that fear
did not fill the whole area of his mind,
for he adds, ‘I will trust in Thee.’
It is possible, then, for fear and faith
to occupy the mind at the same moment.”
Charles Spurgeon

When painful memories get triggered, panic screams through my veins. I want to run and flee, but my feet feel stuck in quicksand that sucks me down and threatens to swallow me up. Fear fills the whole area of my mind, especially when it hits me without warning. It can be hard to think straight and to remember I can trust Jesus’ outstretched hand of rescue.

I have to talk myself through it. Where is this coming from? Why am I feeling this way? Am I in real danger here, or is it a hyper-sensitive reaction triggered from past painful experiences?

Traumatic events can embed themselves in our brains, and our bodies automatically react when these memories are triggered. We may feel helpless to control it, and it sometimes takes time to talk ourselves through what is real in the present moment. Even as we desperately cry out to Jesus, trusting and believing He is the only One who can and will rescue us, our bodies can be shaking with fear and anxiety. We may feel fear, but that does not mean we have no faith.

I have heard some Christians say fear and faith cannot co-exist, and I figured anyone knows better than I do. So I would beat myself up (and still do sometimes) – “If you can’t face this fear or get rid of fear entirely, you must not have faith.” But God is step by step teaching me that fear and faith can co-exist, and we don’t have to feel shame about the fear that still sometimes lingers on in our hearts and minds.

Jesus keeps loving us no matter what. It’s not about the measure of our love for Him. It’s about His perfect love for us! Even when our faith seems nonexistent or is dim. Even when the thunder of fear makes it hard to hear His voice. Even when we struggle with believing He is with us in the storm. We may waver, but His love never does. No matter where we are, He is whispering, “I’m here, Child. I understand your fears. I catch your tears. I will always love you.”

“Praise You In This Storm”
by Casting Crowns

32 thoughts on “Faith and Fear Can Co-Exist

  1. Amen! Trudy: this is something that covered me in shame for so so long. But as God walked me through PTSD He opened His Word up to me anew- showing me that humility was coming to Him as I was- helpless and needy, and SO filled with fear.

    1 Peter 5: 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

    Psalm 55:22
    Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.

    I love the strength of the verb “cast”- it’s not just a weak “oh if you have the time could you please help me, LORD” it’s throwing our full weight upon the LORD screaming “help me!!!”

    I actually think the presence of fear affirms our calling. For where there is fear, there is an invitation to lean more deeply into Christ. Satan tries to use it to stop us, Christ turns it into good by growing our trust in Him. Loved the Spurgeon quote. There’s such richness in these old commentaries.

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    1. Thank you for pointing out these verses, Anna. I love your take on “cast.” So true. I love how Christ invites us to lean more deeply into Him and how God turns Satan’s evil intentions to our good. May we lean more deeply into Christ who never shames us or condemns us!

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  2. Trudy, I have never read anything more exquisite about the co-existence of faith and fear. As humans, we will have our fears and doubts, but our faith in the Lord’s help and protection can rescue us and lift us up and away from our negative feelings. The Psalms you quoted here illustrate that perfectly. Thank you so much for this inspiration today!
    Blessings!

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  3. Amen, Trudy! This is wonderful. Especially this line: “It’s not about the measure of our love for Him. It’s about His perfect love for us!” We put so much pressure on ourselves to feel certain ways (or not feel certain ways, as in the case of fear), don’t we? Really, though, it’s so much more helpful to remember God’s attributes and trust that the One who never changes is not going to change how He relates to us based on how we feel (about Him or anything else)! Hugs, friend!

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    1. Thank you, Lois. Hugs to you, too! Yes, we too often put pressure on ourselves. It always helps me to fix my eyes on who God is. May we daily trust the One who never changes His love for us even when we waver!

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  4. Trudy, I firmly believe that fear and faith can coexist in our souls and in our lives, rather like joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain. Largely because we are flawed and fallen people, who still struggle with a whole raft of challenging emotions. And we can fluctuate enormously from dawn to dusk in how we react to things. Those triggers from the past certainly have a way of making us feel wretched, shamed and fearful, opening up wounds and drowning us in despair.
    The difference, as believers, is that we don’t have to permanently stay in a bad place emotionally. Not only can we hand it all over to God, we also have the reassurance of His constant presence with us as we journey toward greater healing and wholeness. We are no surprise to God. He wants us to open up and be completely honest with Him about what we struggle with and how we are. Just as you say here: “we don’t have to feel shame about the fear that still sometimes lingers on in our hearts and minds. Jesus keeps loving us no matter what.” Amen, well said, my friend! Blessings, love and hugs. xo ❤

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  5. Dear Trudy,
    Thank you for being God’s sweet messenger today! I am in awe of the way that He is bringing such comfort to my heart. Each post that He has led me to today has confirmed His encouragement to me. He sees the deep places of my heart, and is not offended by any weakness that I so want to be gone! These words are so true: “But God is step by step teaching me that fear and faith can co-exist, and we don’t have to feel shame about the fear that still sometimes lingers on in our hearts and minds.” What a Grace-filled way of walking with our Lord–leaning fully into HIS mercy. Blessings, love and hugs to you my friend! xoxo

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    1. I’m humbled and awed at being one of God’s messengers to your heart today, Bettie. God’s timing is so perfect. He knows what we need. I’m so glad the posts you have been reading confirm His encouragement to you. Blessings, love, and hugs to you, too! May we daily lean into His bottomless mercy and His unconditional love!

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  6. A beautiful confident ode to the One who calms our fears. Yes, they’re still there and we are wise to name them and understand where they come from and why. But our fears don’t define us, do they!!!

    Praise God, we are defined by our Savior and His great love.

    Thank you for giving gentle permission to all those who find fear coming to call. We see he’s at the door. But we refuse to invite him in to put his feet up and call the shots in our lives.

    Blessings to you, girl …

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    1. Thank you, Linda, for your kind and wise words. Blessings to you, too! I’m still a work in progress in that area of not allowing fear to call the shots in my life, but God has brought me a long way. Yes, praise God, we are defined by our Savior and His great love! May we daily remember that!

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    1. Thank you for your kind words, Lynn. I’m thankful you were encouraged and inspired. I’m still a work in progress. But I’m learning that even when I feel I have no faith, God remains faithful. Isn’t it amazing how much He loves us no matter what? May we daily surrender our hearts and lives into His hands!

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  7. Well said, Trudy! I used to feel condemned because of my fears and think I needed to have more faith but it’s so true that they can co-exist. Sometimes faith is stepping out despite the fear. I love how you point out David’s example- he definitely had great faith but also felt fear at times.

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    1. Thank you, Lesley. I used to feel condemned, too, but I’m learning Jesus is not like that. I love how you say that “faith is stepping out despite the fear.” In those times when the devil pounds us with his lies, may we remember there is no condemnation in Jesus!

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  8. The last paragraph is beautiful. It is such a testimony to how God is working in you. It also provides such encouragement.

    I know faith and fear can co-exist and whenever I teach about brave faith, I mention that. We are not giving up one for another. We are learning how to let God walk us through the fear and when we allow that to happen we have grasped brave faith.

    Thank you for sharing so personally and allowing us to learn from your own experience.

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    1. I’m glad you were encouraged, Mary. It’s so comforting that God’s love and character never change, isn’t it? In spite of what we do or don’t do. Yes, what you teach about brave faith certainly demonstrates allowing God to walk us through the fear. May we always fix our eyes on His unchanging, unconditional love!

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  9. Trudy, you share so much truth in this post! As I read about fear and faith a thought struck me. It’s not so much if we have fear, because we’ll all face fear at certain points in our lives. It’s what we do with it. Are we going to react to it and base our decisions and reactions on what fear tells us? Or, are we going to turn to Jesus with all of it and ask for His truth to give us an accurate perspective on which to base our actions? I need to think on this more.

    Great post. And that song has ministered to my spirit more times than I can count!

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    1. I love your reflective thoughts here, Jeanne. Great questions to ask ourselves. Too often we react on what fear tells us, don’t we? May our immediate reactions in face of fear be to fling ourselves into the arms of Jesus and ask for His perspective!

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  10. Such an important message Trudy. We should never beat ourselves up over feeling fear. Sometimes it’s there for a purpose too, as something we need to pay attention to, to learn and grow. It is love and grace that transforms us. And that is the unconditional Love that accepts us completely including our fears!

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    1. My heart rejoices that you find comfort here, Susie. I know life isn’t easy for you. You are a gift, too. Never forget that! And uniquely gifted! How is the art class going? xoxoxo to you, too! May we find all our strength and comfort in our God who loves us so unconditionally!

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  11. Hi Trudy,
    I completely agree with you about faith and fear. Didn’t Peter walk out on the water to Jesus despite fear? Yet Jesus didn’t say he had no faith, but little faith. I think it’s brave to fight fear with faith and they do co-exist, yet God gives us the strength to be stronger than our fears. Love these words and how you question and work through your fears and doubts — you are walking out this life with courage, friend! Sending love to you! xo

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    1. Thank you for this reminder, Valerie. I so identify with Peter. I too often take my eyes off Jesus and look at the storm. That Jesus didn’t say Peter had no faith touches my heart in a deeper way as I read your words. Thank you. Sending love and xo back! May we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus!

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  12. Thank you for this beautiful encouragement, Trudy. I really struggled when I became a Christian with this whole concept of fear and faith. I was certain it was my lack of faith that kept me living in fear. Finally learning the 2 could co-exist was so freeing. Thanks for the reminder! Love and hugs, my friend!

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    1. I’m glad this was an encouraging reminder, Candace. We need it often, don’t we?! I’m glad we both finally learned they could co-exist. Love and hugs back to you! May we cling to our Savior who loves us so unconditionally, whether or not we are afraid!

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  13. Hi Trudy! I think it’s short sighted to think that fear and faith can’t exist together. How do you know you have faith unless you can manage the hard things of life? As you pointed out, even King David (“a man after my own heart”) had fear.
    I am learning to pray the Examen of St. Ignatius, and one of the parts of it is to look at the days events and figure out why I had the reactions to it that I did. And what do those reactions teach? When I read about your reviewing your fear feelings, I was reminded of that. I think it’s a powerful way to learn… from feelings. There’s something to be gained from all our emotion. Fear is included in that.
    Blessings!
    Ceil

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