What are you afraid of? Heights? Snakes? Clowns? What about something more serious, the unknown? Conflict? Criticism? Fear has a tendency to paralyze and consume us. It stresses us out and leaves us ineffective in life and ministry. Ultimately, fear, when not dealt with leads to despair.
Do you know the most frequent command in all of scripture? Do not fear! It is probably not what came to your mind. At least it is a simple command, right? Well, maybe not. Why would God remind people of it so many times through scripture? I think it’s obvious, fear has a tendency to debilitate; especially, when it comes to fear of conflict, criticism or the unknown.
Why would God worry so much about fear in our life? Think about it though, when there is something you fear, and it is consuming your thoughts and many times influences your actions. Functionally, the person or situation which you fear becomes a god. Constantly God is telling his people, “Do not fear.” Real easy? Not at all.
So what is the solution to fear? Two things jump out to me from the pages of scripture.
- Many times in scripture when God says, “do not fear,” it is followed with, “I will be with you.” We are promised through the pages of scripture, God will be with us in the midst of our fear and uncertainty. Maybe we are so consumed by a “functional god” we are unable to hear the voice of God.
- Unfortunately, the second part of this challenge is not as easy as simply listening because it involves doing. Many times when the phrase, “do not fear, for I will be with you” occurs, it is as Israel is heading into a battle which seems impossible to win. God not only expects his people to listen to Him, he also expects them to be obedient to Him. Not simply saying it is great God is with me, but actually trusting by obeying His commands.
For us this means handling things the way God told us to. If we have a conflict with someone, we go to them and work it out. Scary? Of course, but if not dealt with, it will consume you. When dealing with the unknown it means trusting God and walking by faith. Fear if not dealt with will control you, but by facing the fear we will overcome it.