Overcoming our fears

Who among us has not felt fear? We may fear the unknown. We may fear a situation, an unfamiliar place or even a person. What missionary has not felt apprehension when facing a new door or sharing a testimony in a hostile environment? What Latter-day Saint, when facing a new calling, does not feel anxious concern at the thought of what lies ahead?

At other times in our lives, we fear other things. President Gordon B. Hinckley has said, "We suffer from a fear of ridicule, the fear of failure, the fear of loneliness, the fear of ignorance. Some fear the present, some the future. Some carry the burden of sin and would give almost anything to unshackle themselves from those burdens but fear to change their lives."Fear," said President Hinckley, "comes not of God, but rather this gnawing, destructive element comes from the adversary of truth and righteousness. Fear is the antithesis of faith. It is corrosive in its effects, even deadly.

" `For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.' These principles are the great antidotes to the fears that rob us of our strength and sometimes knock us down to defeat. They give us power . . . the power of the gospel, the power of faith, the power of the priesthood." (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, p. 220-21.)

The Lord has these words for us: "Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you. . . ." (D&C 68:6.) What comfort those words should bring us.

And, again, the Lord has said: "Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not." (D&C 6:36.)

The way to overcome our fears is to trust in the Lord. As we learn to place our trust in Him, to observe His commandments and to do His will, we gain confidence in our abilities to overcome the challenges put before us. These small victories help us reduce our fear.

The writer of Proverbs put it this way: "The fear of man bringeth a snare, but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe." (Prov. 29:25.)

As we allay our own fears, we can then help others overcome their fears and challenges also.

Alma offers this counsel: "But if ye keep the commandments of God, and do with these things which are sacred according to that which the Lord doth command you . . . behold, no power of earth or hell can take them from you, for God is powerful to the fulfilling of all his words." (Alma 37:16)

President Spencer W. Kimball, then of the Quorum of the Twelve, reviewed some of our challenges and what happens as we work through them without fear. "Is there not wisdom in His (God's) giving us trials that we might rise above them, responsibilities that we might achieve, work to harden our muscles, sorrows to try our souls? Are we not exposed to temptations to test our strength, sickness that we might learn patience, death that we might be immortalized and glorified? (Faith Precedes the Miracle, p. 98.)

These small triumphs that grow out of working through those experiences give us hope and help to alleviate our fears. We may see our difficulties or problems or reversals as things to fear, but they may have much greater consequences.

Elder Ezra Taft Benson reminded us: "Sometimes

itT takes a reversal to make us appreciate our blessings and to develop us into strong, courageous characters. We can meet every reversal that can possibly come with the help of the Lord. Every reversal can be turned to our benefit and blessing and can make us stronger, more courageous, more Godlike." (Manila, Philippines, Area Conference, 1975.)

As our past and present prophets have counseled, we can put aside our fear. By trusting in the Lord, fear can be replaced by power. With that power, we can lend a helping hand and listening ear to those who are suffering, bear our testimony of the restored gospel to those less sure and do good where we can whenever we can.

The Apostle Paul reminds us: "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Be thou not ashamed of the testimony of our Lord . . . but be thou a partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God." (2 Tim. 1:7-8)

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