7 Ways to Distinguish between Fear and Faith

Are You Sure You Know the Difference?

I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve seen fear keep someone from walking by faith. I’d be rich. Unless I had to pay someone else for all the times I let fear send me into hiding.

Photo credit: Flickr -Capture Queen

Along my journey to live a story worth telling, I have developed what I can only describe as a sensitivity to faith opportunities. Having confronted my own faithless demons, I seem to more easily recognize the symptoms of faithlessness in others. Here are a few popular and telling expressions:

  • We can’t afford to do that.
  • We don’t have time to do that.
  • That sounds risky.
  • What if it doesn’t work out?
  • There’s only so much to go around.

But when you learn to walk by faith — to do what you believe to be true, often in spite of what you see, sense, or feel — your perspective changes. Now when I hear something may be risky, my ears perk up.

Instead of seeking the safe, secure option, I look for the most productive option. Instead of whining if only, I give myself permission to dream what if. Before I know it, I’m walking as if. That’s how you end up walking on water. [ I unpack this more in my new book A Story Worth Telling. Get a free chapter here. ]

But don’t get me wrong.  I continue to see fear creep back into my own life the moment my faith begins to fade. Just this week, I’ve found myself struggling to rest in God’s providence as I once again attempt to do greater things I once deemed impossible. I’d like to say I’m trusting Him to do those things, but I confess that’s not always the case.

When I cease to pray for example, fear comes rushing back in, slowly at first, so as not to attract attention. But before I know it, I’m being swept away in waves of anxiety that have me crying out for God once again, wondering how I could have been so foolish.

I’ve learned that inactivity in our prayer life leads inevitably to paralysis in our faith walk. And that’s when fear makes it’s move. [ See my post Why You Need not Fear Being Afraid. ]

7 Ways to tell the Difference between Fear and Faith

If we develop our ability to distinguish between fear and faith, we can avoid the former while embracing the latter. Often we run from faith because we fail to recognize the true risks. [ See my post The Greatest Risk You Face Right Now. ]

Like learning the difference between poison ivy and a sunny tropical beach — ya, it’s kind of like that. You wouldn’t think it would be difficult to do, and yet more of us seem to be scratching rashes than relaxing by the surf.

So here are just a few tips to help you distinguish between fear and faith:

  1. Fear imprisons us. Faith frees us.
  2. Fear tells us it can’t be done. Faith assures us it’s already done.
  3. Fear causes us to imagine worst-case scenarios. Faith causes us to see possibilities.
  4. Fear invites confusion into our lives. Faith brings focus to our mission.
  5. Fear paralyzes us. Faith empowers us.
  6. Fear grows from our inability to do what we want done. Faith relies on God’s ability to do what He promised He would do.
  7. Fear keeps us running. Faith starts us kneeling.

Question: Do you see evidence of fear or faith in your life today? What other differences have you discovered between the two? Share your thoughts by clicking here.