Psalm 112:6-8 (NIV) Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever. They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.
Didn’t see it coming. Like a near miss in speeding traffic, the conversation turned from minor illness or virus to the something that I loathe. Our daughter has been battling a common virus that many of our friends and family have been experiencing. Sore throat, weakness and congestion for a few days. For her, it was lingering and even getting worse. So I scheduled her a doctor’s appointment just to make sure in her compromised immunity, she had not caught a secondary illness. After years of practically living at the oncologist and camped in the hospital waiting room, I was completely relaxed. We have prayed for her sickness to leave and for a full recovery. I do believe that God created doctors, nurses and medicine for times just like this. After a careful examination of my pitiful teenager, the doctor sat down and announced that she would be tested for “mono”. My heart stopped for a moment. My stomach lurched to my throat. I couldn’t breathe. I could feel the color fading from my face as a bead of sweat popped up on my brow. My reaction caught the practitioner off guard so I explained. The Epstein-Barre virus that causes mononucleosis is the virus that was present in our son’s cancer cells and the culprit that threatened his life. Fear had seized me in an instant. I was off-guard and it knocked me to my knees. Though I stumbled, I did not fall. But for the rest of the day, it was a fight to secure my fickle heart that wanted to waver from faith to fear. I had to keep my thoughts in check which were trying to produce an outcome that was not the Will of God. It took every bit of self-control not to overreact but rest in the Peace of God. One thing that the enemy did not count on when he produced those words attempting to hand me fear was that I now have a healthy fear much greater and stronger than any bad report or threat against my life. I fear God alone.
“Healthy fear is when you have such a deep respect for the Power of God, you become keenly aware of your total dependence on Him.” (Living Water Ministries) Healthy fear produces positive results in our life and brings us peace. Fear of any other kind creates a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil or pain. It doesn’t have to be real or valid even if it is only imagined it can have the same devastating effects. Fear is sometimes explained as “false evidence appearing real.” The enemy uses lies to dissuade us from trusting the Lord completely. He takes the Word of God twisting it, adding to it, or questioning its truth and validity. Without total and complete faith in God, we will fall repeatedly to the enemy’s attempts to bind us in unhealthy fear rather than thriving by faith in reverent awe of our powerful God.
Proverbs 19:23 (NIV) The fear of the Lord leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble.
Fear of the Lord is also called reverential awe. Reverential means characterized by reverence or respect. Awe means overwhelming adoration or admiration. Hardly the same as the kind of fear most people live in every single day. Perfect love casts out all fear. (I John 4:18) Faith in God is exemplified by trust. As our faith grows, we learn to depend on the Lord more and more for the outcomes in life. First with the little things, growing to more important matters. That is, unless your entire world carefully constructed by control comes crashing down shattering like glass on a concrete floor. Well, then you have to decide whether or not to rebuild on faith or continue the folly that there is no need for God or Jesus and you can still manage on our own. When the doctor said, “Mono” my natural inclination was to be afraid…very afraid. However, the Holy Spirit rose up within me. I know better now.
Hebrews 11 is considered the “Faith” chapter of the Bible. It is the Hall of Fame of men and women who dared to trust the Lord and overcome fear with faith. Over and over again, these people did just that without receiving the Promise because Jesus came afterwards. Faith in the Lord is the only way to get rid of unhealthy fear and replace it with healthy fear. The kind of belief that no matter what the report of the enemy is that God is still in complete authority and has absolute control over our life. Is that you today? Do you believe? Is your fear healthy or unhealthy?
Psalm 23 (NIV) The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
The principle of trust described by David in Psalm 23 is that of a shepherd caring for sheep. Jesus also referenced the same in John 10:11-18 when He said, “I am the good shepherd.” Looking at this passage, we discover some of the fears overcome by faith. The first and probably most prevalent is the fear of lack. When the Lord is our shepherd, we lack nothing. Jesus sent the disciples out with nothing. Upon their return, He asked, “Did you lack anything?” They replied, “Nothing.” Through His Divine Power, the Lord supplies everything we need to live a godly life. (2 Peter 1:3) We must only know the good shepherd and follow Him.
There are more areas of fear covered in Psalm 23 including emotions like worry and stress. The Lord leads us to lie down in green pastures and beside still water where He refreshes our soul rather than wringing us and hanging us out to dry. Stress and worry are evidence of fear and a lack of faith that keeps us on the run rather than peacefully resting in the Lord. If you trust the Lord enough to follow Him then you will always be on the right path. He works the details of our life out for good. (Romans 8:28) He knows the way of hope and faith allows us to follow Him on our way there no matter how rough the road or rocky the terrain because we trust the Lord above all others. We fear our enemies. Yet they are powerless against our God who prepares a table for us to dine in their midst. Clearly the Lord is not concerned with the roaring lion spewing out lies and neither should you. Finally, we must believe and live in confidence that His Goodness and Unfailing Love are always pursuing us and pushing us to greater things by faith. Do you trust the Lord today? Is He your Shepherd? He will lead you from fear to faith if you will trust Him today.
Psalm 27:1-5; 13-14 (NIV)
The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident. One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.
I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
Who do you fear today? What do you fear? Faith boasts to be fearless but without testing how do we know for sure that our confidence in the Lord is real and credible. When things are good, we don’t press to know the Lord quite like we do when tested. Hard times require us to pull out the iron and sharpen our sword. Abraham waited for his promise and God gave him Isaac. The test came when God required his son to be returned. Abraham did not hesitate and God knew that Abraham’s fear and reverence were greater than the gift that he had been given. The Lord said to Abraham, his friend, “Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” (Genesis 22:11-13) Reading this today, I am asking myself this important question. Am I withholding anything from the Lord? See that which we hold back is the very thing that we do not trust Him with. It is subject to plunder by the enemy. When the enemy catches us in his snare of uncertainty and we become fearful, it causes division. (Genesis 32:6-8) Division causes us to give up an unnecessary sacrifice. Christ operates in completion. The enemy offers compromise. We have complete certainty that God’s Word will come to pass in our life but we are too afraid to wait on Him. Fear keeps us at a distance from God. We need to live in His Presence. We do not live in the Presence of God because we do not trust Him. (Exodus 20:18-19) All these are the characteristics of fear that forces a wedge between us and our God. When we decide by faith to trust Him and not be moved by fear, we begin to see that He really is all-powerful and supreme just like His Word indicated. We have nothing to fear.
Deuteronomy 1:28-36 describes the process of fear and its price. The men who went as scouts to into the Promised Land brought back doubt and fear spreading it among the people. Moses reminded the people of what the Lord had spoken to them including that they had victory over every enemy they encountered. They still chose not to trust the Lord cowering in fear. This generation of people who overcame all odds to make it to the very edge of the Promised Land would never cross over into it. The barrier – fear. The consequence – they did not trust the Lord. A lack of trust will always produce fear that causes rebellion and will keep you from your promise.
The enemy asked God, “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan asked God this very thing. (Job 1:8-12) He told the Lord that the hedge around Job and the blessing in his life kept him faithful to God. The Lord allowed the enemy to take everything. Job remained faithful to God. So the enemy went back again requesting “skin for skin”. (Job 2:2-6) God allowed the enemy to afflict the body of Job but did not allow him to take his life. What happened? Job remained faithful to God. If our faith in God is not tested, how do we know that it is genuine? When tested, any insufficiency will rise up so we can see it and deal with it. Why is this important? I do not serve God for a better life but eternal life.
I John 4:17-19 (NIV) This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the Day of Judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.
I have decided that the enemy has no idea how we will respond to his random attacks against us or why would he continue to do so when it reinforces faith, teaches us to trust, and produces blessings in our life that would not be possible if we have not been tested. Yes, I stumbled for a moment yesterday. It was like a punch in the gut to hear the very mention of the illness I loathe so much. Through the three-year trial called cancer, something changed in me. I discovered that no matter how hard I try to control the outcomes in my life, there are still many things impossible outside of God. We fear so many things in life whether willing to admit it or not. My children are my world or at least they used to be. The potential loss of just one of them left me completely undone and need of my Savior more than ever before. He saved our son. He healed him. He did everything that He promised me. In the process, Jesus changed me. My dependence of the Lord made a shift. When my dependence on the world, my abilities, other people, and overall good became threatened – there was only one place to turn. Now, I find that I live in that place. When fear comes, I slam the door and shut the window or it will destroy the foundation built at such a high price. Fear always leads to doubt that becomes discouragement that will destroy our faith in God if allowed.
We are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12-13) We can only overcome fear that is faced. If we are not challenged by it, we cannot have victory over it. Do not be afraid of the test but prepare for it by trusting God a little more today. When the enemy tries to lie to you thrusting fear, stress, worry or doubt in front of you – just turn the other way and take hold of Jesus just a little more. The Lord is working in us today to remove all doubt and disbelief until we have nothing but healthy fear that will complete us. It is such fear that allows us to live fearless and free in the Presence of God in Jesus Name. Amen.
2 Timothy 1:6-7 (NIV) For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.