Fear and Faith: Finding the peace your heart craves // Trillia J. Newbell

Fear and Faith by Trillia J. NewbellFull disclosure: I did not buy this book – I was given it after ‘winning’ an informal online contest through the Christian podcast sphere of which I have been a part since 2015. I’m also not the target audience (it is written for women). With that said, I am very glad to have received a copy, and although it was not written to a male audience, I can say I found aspects of it were certainly applicable to my own walk with God, while other parts gave me valuable insights into some of the fears faced by my sisters in Christ. For both of these things, I am thankful.

Trillia covers a lot of ground in a fairly concise book, from fear of death/tragic loss to fear of not measuring up, parenting guilt/woes, fear in or arising from marital matters, body image issues, and more. Throughout the book, and often using personal real-life examples, Trillia brings the gospel to bear (helpfully and without piling on the guilt) on the tension that commonly exists between fear and faith.

I’ll be honest – in certain situations/areas of life, I have found over the years that I am prone to worry. I’m not proud of it; at times it has led to a fairly significant battle for faith over fear, which has been far from easy, but looking back I can see that often the things that have caused fear have also, by God’s grace, helped me to grow as a person and a follower of Jesus. God’s promises, power and presence are paramount in battling the temptations we face, including the temptation to fear. This is something of which I need to remind myself often – when we are weak, after all, He is strong! Indeed, His power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

I mentioned the ‘piling on of guilt’ in the second paragraph, and to be honest this was sort of what I expected to encounter in this book, but I was pleasantly surprised not to find it! Many times when the topic of fear and anxiety is encountered in gospel-centred spheres, I find that the answer to the struggle with fear is a simple (in theory), true and yet somewhat unhelpfully reductionist admonishment to “stop sinning, give up your [self] idolatry, trust God and experience his peace”. Let’s be clear, this isn’t bad advice, and it is true that a life lived in fear often involves idolatry in some form. I believe it could even be said that it is often characterised by a sort of self idolatry which sees oneself as being able (when all things are going well) to juggle life’s challenges… that is, until something major gets in the way and rocks the foundations to the point where we realise the thing we fear is bigger than us, and sometimes we unfortunately forget that it is not bigger than the God we serve, and so we live with fear instead of trusting God and His promises. Trillia’s advice is convicting, don’t get me wrong, it does point us to God – His power, His goodness, and His faithfulness – rather than ourselves, but it does so in a way that is gentle and kind. I definitely got the sense that she is seeking to walk helpfully alongside the reader rather than talk down to them.

The ‘Prince of Preachers’, Charles Spurgeon, has been quoted as saying, “I love to preach a gospel of which I feel the sweetness in my own soul.” and “If you cannot catechise your own heart, and drill a truth into your own soul, you do not know how to teach other people.” A couple of years ago I preached on Philippians 4:1-9, and while I’m sure I haven’t managed to implement Spurgeon’s advice perfectly as I am still being sanctified in this area, the need to preach to myself was clear to me. Though I hadn’t yet read Trillia’s book at the time, I am glad it found its way onto my bookshelf and I’m grateful for the way it has reminded me to present my requests and cares to God, with thanksgiving, trusting and resting in the promise that the peace of God, which surpasses understanding (v7), will be given to me by the God of peace Himself (v9).

This is a topic I plan to continue revisiting and reading more on in the future. If it’s an area in which you experience some difficulty and find that from time to time you need reminding of the answers we find in God’s Word, and especially if you are a sister in Christ, please do pick up a copy and read this book for yourself!

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