“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” (Isaiah 41:30 NLT)
Fear makes cowards of us all.
It is hard to imagine any one thing that can debilitate us more than fear.
We are not talking about a “normal,” healthy fear (like whenever we are in real danger!) But the kind of fear that is more of a fabrication of (and a stronghold in) our minds. The kind that dominates our thinking and keeps us in bondage to the “what if’s” and the “what might be’s.”
Because we are afraid, we do not try new things. Because we fear, we cling tightly to the old ways – when new opportunities await us. Because of fear, we settle with what we are now – and choose not to see beyond our own narrow view of ourselves. Because of fear, we sit idly by, when we should stand up for what is right. Because of fear, we do not forgive… we do not push ourselves… we walk only where we have been before.
God knows that we struggle with our fears. He is more than aware of our worries and anxieties.
The really good news is that He is “for us not against us.” That means: He’s pulling for us…
To step out of the shadows. To embrace His possiblities for our lives. To lay aside the old fearful “you,” and put on the “new you.” The “you” that is bold, and energized, and dangerous to the kingdom of darkness. The “you” that is able to walk in perfect love. If only…
I find it most illuminating, in Scripture, that whenever God shows up, one of the first things He does is address our fear…
“Do not be afraid.”
Like Joseph (Jesus’ earthly father), when your life’s plans come crashing down: “Do not be afraid…” God is in the midst of what is happening, and has something great in store (see Mt. 1:20).
Or like Mary (Jesus’ earthly mother), when something happens that could devestate your world: “Do not be afraid…” You are the focus of God’s favor! (see Luke 1:30)
Like some fishermen, trapped in a dead-end job…“Do not be afraid…” “I will make you fishers of men (and you will change the world!).” (see Luke 5:10)
Like shepherds. Outcasts of their society. “Do not be afraid…” “I bring you glad tidings of great joy – and you are included.” (see Luke 2:10)
Like when you have reached that point where all hope seems lost. “Do not be afraid…” “Only believe, and you will see your miracle.” (see Luke 8:50)
Like when you feel utterly insignificant. “Do not be afraid…” “God is so interested in you that He has even taken the time to count all the hairs on your head.” (see Luke 12:7)
Or like when the world seems to be dead-set against you. “Do not be afraid…” “For it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you His kingdom.” (see Luke Luke 12:32)
The truth is: we struggle with fear because we just KNOW that we are not strong enough, wise enough, or resourceful enough to overcome the obstacles of our lives. So we avoid them – we stay where we feel safe – we seek shelter from every strong wind that might blow.
All the while, we are missing out on all the exciting places that God wants to take us.
But there is hope. God has a plan. He has a way to fill us with the courage that shatters our fears.
And tomorrow we will share His secret together…
Prayer focus: God, help me to realize, and accept, that, because of You, I never have to be afraid.