Sometimes I have irrational fears. Do you? I get afraid of things that could possibly happen, but probably won't. I don't fear aliens attacking or animals suddenly taking over the world. That would be silly. But I get anxious about things that, in my mind anyhow, could really happen...if worse came to worse.
So, even though the things I fear could happen, it is irrational of me to worry over them. The truth is, 99% of what I fear never happens. That's a lot of stress and worry and anxiety wasted on nothing!
In fact, the Bible tells me not to be anxious about anything.
I find that to be a pretty tall order. Most every day I have at least a fleeting fear or two about something. In this world, with it's unpredictable economy, natural disasters and terrorists (not to mention all the other "little" sources of personal disaster), it's hard to be strong and courageous every minute. Life feels fragile and precious. And when something is easily broken or lost, it's natural to fear the worst. Right?
Natural, maybe. Productive and healthy, no.
Fear actually has the potential for causing more problems than the very things we fear the most.
In the Bible:
And less we think fear doesn't do the very same things in our lives, we should think again.
- fear kept hundreds of thousands of Israelites from crossing into the Promised Land and left them to die in the wilderness instead (Numbers 13:31).
- fear caused King Saul to act like an irrational idiot and lose his throne (1 Samuel 18:29).
- fear robbed Barak of a newspaper clipping and a shining moment and gave the credit for a noble victory to a woman instead (Judges 4:9).
- fear got Peter all wet (Matthew 14:30).
- fear earned the idle servant a good tongue-lashing, the scorn of his Master, and eternity in the darkness, according to Jesus' parable about using one's talents or gifts (Matthew 25:25).
- fear kept the disciples behind locked doors after Jesus' sacrificial death on the cross (John 29:38).
In our lives, fear:
The anecdote to fear? Courage.
- keeps us out of our own Promised Lands.
- causes us to act like idiots and lose what we have earned.
- robs us of accomplishments
- gets us all wet...in front of other people too!
- earns us the distrust of our own Master
- and keeps us locked behind doors that are meant to be wide opened to us.
Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 2:1:
You, therefore, my child,
be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
Courage isn't something we just muster up because we have to in order to get through an ordeal. Real courage, the kind that works, the kind that is effective, comes from trusting in the sufficient grace that is found in Christ Jesus.
We can trust that, by His grace, Jesus will either keep our worst nightmares from ever happening or He'll graciously walk through them with us, delivering us safely on the other side.
That still may not be a pretty enough picture for some of us, but on this side of heaven it's what we get. Jesus told His disciples that in this world we would indeed have trouble, turmoil, problems, difficulties. But He also told them to "take courage" because He has overcome the world. (John 16:33)
If you're trusting in your own abilities to cope with life's ordeals, it makes sense to fear. But if you're putting your trust in Jesus, you can let go, take courage, and move forward with confidence.
So which will it be today? Fear...or courage?
- takes you to your Promised Land.
- helps us see things clearly
- gives us victory
- keeps us above the stormy waves
- earns the respect of our Master
- and opens doors.
It's those little fears that can rob you the most, you know. Not the big ones about terrorists or global warming, but the little ones about your family's safety, someone else's opinion, your finances, your abilities to handle a certain task, the confrontation you have to have with a co-worker, etc.
Let's choose not to be railroaded by fear today. Let's be courageous.
I'm preaching to myself today, folks. But maybe this helped you a little too.