If I asked you what you were afraid of today, what would you say? I’m not talking about things like spiders, snakes, or mice, but things that have your stomach tied up in a knot. For me it’s COVID 19 and everything related to it. It’s being fearful about my kids and grand-kids coming down with it, or my elderly Dad, or my health-compromised family-members succumbing to the virus. But II Timothy 1:7 tells me, “God didn’t give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline.” Fear tells me that I can’t, while faith tells me it’s already been done. For Romans 8:15 says, “You didn’t receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the spirit of son-ship.” And this son-ship tells me that through Jesus Christ, God has adopted me and you as His son or daughter thus making us a heir to His promised salvation. Thus we have nothing to fear, for the fear of death is gone…and if you really think about it, fear of death is the origin of all other fears.
Right now as America is in the middle of protests, riots, looting, and vandalism across our land, a new fear has reared its ugly head. With COVID 19, it was fear of the unknown, but with the onslaught of these violent public disturbances the fear has become much more personal in nature. That’s why these verses in Isaiah are so important for us today. We don’t need to dread, or be fearful of harm or danger because our God is not only our kinsman redeemer but also our avenger. He is always with us even when we go through fire and water, bringing us to a place of abundance. (Psalm 66:12) That’s because we are His treasured possession, (Deuteronomy 7:6) and He will fight for us; we need only to be still.(Exodus 14:14)
The apostle Paul who wrote this is probably one of the best examples of someone who looked beyond discouragement and refused to give in to despair. For here Paul calls the overwhelming mental, physical, and spiritual distress he has endured as “light and momentary troubles.” But how could he do this? The answer is simple…he was allowing the Lord to renew and restore his mind daily…or as Colossians 3:10 tells us, “Put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” When we become discouraged, fearful, or overcome with the current troubles in the world today, we need to be reminded that as we go through all these hardships, they are achieving for us righteousness and eternal glory for His namesake. Therefore, we do not lose heart.
These verses can give us great insight into what it takes to combat doubt and fear in our lives. The first part gives us clear directions as to what our responsibilities are. We are to be steadfast trusting in the Lord at all times…calling on Him first, and not as an afterthought. We are to turn our back on our old sinful ways, but even more importantly, it says we are to not tolerate or enable sin to remain in our house. This is called compromise, and unfortunately many a Christian household has crumbled when questionable moral concessions have been made. As we work on our responsibilities, we can as Job 22:26 says, ” Find delight in the Almighty and lift up our face to God.” For when there is no longer the guilt and shame of sin weighting us down, we can lift up our head and look straight into the eyes of Jesus with a clear conscience…free of self-doubt and fear.
Even Paul had times when he thought he was the only person in the world working for the Lord. And when people verbally assaulted or berated him for the Gospel Message he likely wished he could just run away rather than stand up to them. But God showed him in that vision that he wasn’t the only Believer in Corinth…that he needed to keep preaching the Good News despite the attacks…and that God was with him through it all. For one of the biggest tools in the arsenal of Satan is to make us believe we’re alone and separated from God and others…out there by ourselves without any support. But we’re not!
For many, the bondage of fear stops us from being able to move forward with life. We long to be liberated from the paralyzing emotions, but feel there’s little we can do to change. But if we’ll take the time to study a few Scriptures, we’ll discover that God has already made the way for us. It starts with this verse in Psalms. When I cry out to the Lord, He answers by liberating me from the terror I’m going through…in other words, setting me free from its control. And this freedom from fear can only be found in the truth of the Gospel. For Jesus declares to us in John 8:32, ” If you hold to My teachings, you are really My disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” There can be freedom from doubt and fear, and it starts with the saving revelation of the Gospel Message.
These verses come from a Song of Praise David sang to the Lord after God had delivered him from the hand of all his enemies. Out of David’s heart came thanksgiving for God’s steadfastness…even in the face of calamity. And the deep-seated trust David had in God is not only evident here, but elsewhere when he declared, “I will fear no evil, for You are with me.” (Psalm 23:4) David was able to turn fear into faith by keeping his eyes on God and not his situation.
Later in this same Chapter, Jesus repeats these words again, “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27) In both verses Jesus is telling us that we have control over doubt, fear, and confusion…”Do not allow (or permit) your hearts (or minds) to be troubled. (confused and/or terrified) ” He wouldn’t be telling us to do something if it wasn’t possible for us to achieve it. Now stop and read that last sentence again please! Jesus is telling us that we all have the direct influence within us to rein in and exercise restraint over fear…but it’s contingent on our trust in Him. In other words, a troubled heart is an unbelieving heart. So our success over doubt and fear lies largely in how we build our faith in God. And this confidence in Him only comes by reading the Bible and praying daily…for you can never fully trust a stranger.
Angels of the Lord had warned Lot and his family of the impending destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah… and to flee and not look back. But even with the warning…Lot’s wife still turned back towards what once had been her life and lost it. Jesus also reminds us of this in Luke 17:32, when He told His disciples, “Don’t go back.” So why are we so prone to do exactly what the Lord tells us not to? When our fear of the unknown outweighs our faith in God…we go back. And when anxiety supersedes what we know in our heart to be true, our mind goes back to familiar coping mechanisms…allowing fear to crowd out our confidence in God.
The work Jesus Christ did here on earth was not some clandestine secretive mission. Rather, everything He said and did was pretty much done in the public eye. Was He ridiculed and rejected for it…Yes. Was He snubbed and scorned by the people…Yes. Was He misunderstood and mocked often…Yes. But Jesus persevered with boldness and authority…never backing down from fear of man. These Scriptures encourage us to claim that same fearlessness and courage so as to not hide our light under a bushel.