I must admit that fear rules me at times. Sometimes things can seem so depressing, so difficult to overcome and so unending that I lose heart and go into fear mode. We all worry and have fear, especially with terror threatening our world and the current economic environment.
Some of us fear losing money, fear losing our spouse, fear losing our reputation, fear embarrassment, fear getting passed over for promotion, fear foreclosure, fear falling behind at work, fear not landing a new customer, fear others discovering who we really are…the list goes on.
Mainly I fear things I cannot control. I fear things in the future. Sometimes, I fear not being able to provide financially for my family. I fear not knowing how something will turn out. Like many men, I sometimes fear failure. I fear most things because I cannot see a way out or cannot see the end result. Many of my fears are based on real threats but many are based on “what ifs”.
For many people their fears are real in the sense that we “feel” afraid and that the thing we fear is true. Losing your job and being concerned about the financial impact to your family is certainly understandable. Dictionary.com defines fear as “a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc, whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling of being afraid; concern or anxiety.”
I wonder, however, if we tend to let fear overtake us. For many of us, it can have a tight grip, it can steal our joy and remove any sense of peace in life. It seems our quality of living and our well-being evaporates when we face uncertain times. Many of us (me included) allow unchecked fear to overwhelm us, to rip the peace out of our lives and, worse, to negatively affect those around us. Constant fear can even blind us from seeing our true purpose or real opportunities that are right in front of us.
Imagine that you manufacture seat belts for a living. You’ve tested them hundreds of times with 100% success and you have thousands of testimonials of people whose lives have been saved by your seatbelts. Now switch gears and imagine you’re from some remote country and you’ve never seen a car much less a seat belt. You now find yourself dangling over a raging river and only have the seat belt around your waist to hold you back. You’d be pretty fearful. But if you were the inventor of the seat belt or if you had been saved by a seat belt in the past, you could hang over the river and watch the fish, you could wait for help or you could calmly plot how to get back to land.
So, why do we let fear overtake us….is it because we forget who made the seat belt….or do we not realize how much we can trust the seat belt maker and his track record of saving lives?
You may remember from the Bible that God led his people to “the promised land” after years of wandering in a wilderness. Before entering their new homeland they sent spies in to look at the land and see what it was like. The report most of the men gave was filled with fear.
Listen to what they said:
Deuteronomy 1:31 But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” 32 And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. 33 We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”
The people the spies encountered were truly enormous and scary (just like some of our problems). They had every right to fear. But what do we do with our fear? Do we let it control us? Do we dwell on our fear or do we run to God. God will not necessarily remove the problem, but he can remove the fear.
Psalm 34:4 says “I sought the Lord and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears“. A few verses later in verses , the psalmist says “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear (meaning ‘revere’) him, and he delivers them. Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. Fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing.”
What if you and I had first-hand knowledge and experience with the safety a seat belt provided? Would we really be that scared dangling out over that river? I think that if we can come to a deep sense and realization of the love of God for us and give him reverence as the psalmist says, we’d have more confidence, we could think more clearly when things hit the fan, peace would remain. If it’s true that he loves us and wants what’s best for us, he will provide the peace, provision, wisdom and direction we need.
Want some good news amidst a fearful situation…..here’s how the rest of the story went for the people of Israel.
Then I said to you, “Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them. 30 The LORD your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, 31 and in the desert. There you saw how the LORD your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.” – Deuteronomy 1:29
My friends, this is the God we serve…a fighter….a father who cares for his kids…who “is” going before us, who helps us when we’re terrified. Now I declare to you…go!!!…go about your day in the confidence of what God says, not what the world says.