“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, love and of self-control”
(2 Timothy 1:7)
Here Paul reminds us of the Spirit’s ministry to believers when we are facing threats and personal crises. He tells us that God gives us courage, concern for others and self-control despite our deepest fears.
God’s solution to our growing fears is to empower us by the Holy Spirit. In other words, despite our emotional turmoil, God can strengthen us to face our deepest anxieties. Of course, this doesn’t mean that we will not experience conflicting emotions or escape times of extraordinary stress. Christians don’t have immunity from the unpleasant emotions of fear and foreboding. For instance Elijah, in his physically exhausted state, became terrified at the threats of Ahab and Jezebel. John the Baptist seems to have been confused and disorientated after Herod threw him into jail. Even Jesus was “deeply distressed and troubled” in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:33).
During these challenging and unsettling moments, God assures us that we will have spiritual strength to face our deepest anxieties. He gives us a spirit of love so that we do not become completely self-absorbed and unconcerned about others. His gift of power enables us to see things in a positive light and to look for solutions in a seemingly hopeless situation. He gives us a sound mind so that we can think logically and sensibly as we come to terms with the crisis we are facing.
Remember, this promise does not mean that we will never face daunting situations. What it does guarantee is that when we need help, God will give us courage to confront our deepest fears. He will give us a positive spirit, the capacity to forget ourselves and to help others, and a sound mind to think through our problems and work out good solutions.
This means that we do not have to run away from our difficulties. This is the typical reaction of unbelievers. When Paul was staring death in the face during the shipwreck (Acts 27), the sailors were so overwhelmed by fear that they decided to leave the ship and take a lifeboat. Driven by their anxieties, they decided to jump the ship of their present circumstances, desert those who needed them and find an easy way out. People often want to run away from their difficulties by finding a “lifeboat” that they think will save them from their problems.
However Paul says that we do not need to run from our fears. We can stand and face them. How? By trusting in God’s promise to fill us with the Holy Spirit so that we have courage, common sense and self-control as we confront the crisis.