Facing Our Fears

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What are you afraid of? What if I told you that you are not alone in your fears? Do you know that there are people who project fear on you and make you insecure...they actually want you to fear so they can control you! 

There are also those whose fears are so devastating that they project their fears on you. They live a miserable existence because they want to be adored and accepted in spite of bad character and want you to live in their fear and misery.

So many things happen daily in this world that can accelerate our fears and for some beyond reason. If we make more laws or have more prisons will that stop crime? NO! If we ban guns will that stop killings? NO! Why? Because there truly is something called a "sin nature." We are all born with it! We do things against our conscience, our upbringing, and yes, our God,  because we "choose" to do so. 

Recently Caty Medrano published an article called Top 10 Strong Human Fears. These are the top fears shared by people everywhere. The list in many ways is self-explanatory. 

10. Losing Your Freedom
9. The Unknown
8. Pain
7. Disappointment in yourself as well as from others
6. Misery
5. Loneliness
4. Ridicule
3. Rejection
2. Death
1. Failure

Many of these fears are tied together, such as death and the unknown, rejection and ridicule, pain and misery, and failure and loneliness. We can also observe that these are mostly existential fears that describe an inner condition of the heart. Unfortunately there are those among us who create their own misery, pain, ridicule, loneliness  rejection, etc., by projecting it on others. They create their own self-fulfilling failure by creating an atmosphere of fear! I will tell their victims that in this sermon there is hope for deliverance from the fears of life and our fellow man. I am going to exclude this group of individuals at this time and pick it up on my next blog. 

Let's talk about those of us who just have fears of this life in general.

We all have our fears, don’t we?

Your list won’t be same as mine, but we can all identify with some things on the second list and most of the first list. We certainly fear rejection by those we love even if those we love are abusive to us-yes even children can be abusive to parents if no boundaries are enforced or a parent sets a bad example by their treatment of the other. Children gravitate to the strongest in relationships thinking they will not be abused by the abuser. Who among us does not think about our own death from time to time. When will it happen and under what circumstances? If we are wise, we also wonder, what then? What happens to those left behind?

I’m not surprised that fear of failure comes at the top for many people. How frustrating to feel like you’ve wasted your short sojourn on planet earth. It’s a terrible thing to conclude that your life was a bust because it didn't turn out the way you hoped it would. You see failure is never final. Whether it is a job loss, a marriage loss, or your life in general up to this point-failure is never final unless we just give up on life. My favorite drill instructor in the army used to say, "it ain't over until the fat lady sings and she ain't even warming up in the wings yet-there is always one more thing you can do!"

Somewhere in all our thinking God has to figure into the equation. There must be a reason that the Bible tells us (in various ways and in various places) to “fear not” hundreds of times. Fear is such a basic human emotion that many of us constantly live in the grip of fear, worry and anxiety. God told us to “fear not” because he knew that we would all wrestle with fear sooner or later.

What do you do when your fears seem to be winning the day? What if you pray and God still hasn’t come through for you? If you are like most people, you begin to lose hope, and you wonder why you bothered to pray in the first place. Deep in the soil of your heart, little seeds of doubt take root, growing up into a harvest of frustration and anger.


It happens to most of us eventually. Some of the best men and women of the Bible struggled with their inner doubts when their dreams didn’t come true.

Waiting for a Baby
Abraham’s story illustrates that truth. In order to get the context, we have to go back forty centuries, back to a time long ago and far away, to a place called Ur of the Chaldees, a large city on the banks of the Euphrates River. That river still exists. It flows through Iraq and empties into the Persian Gulf not far from Kuwait.

Historians tell us that Ur was one of the most important cities of the ancient world. In Abraham’s day perhaps 250,000 people lived there. There was an ancient university in Ur and a large library. Ur was known as a center for mathematics, astronomy, and international commerce. It was like Chicago or New York or London or Singapore.

What else do we know about Abraham (he is first called Abram, and later Abraham) as the story begins? He’s about seventy-five years old when we meet him, which in those days would be considered middle-aged. He’s a prosperous businessman who is no doubt well-known to many people. He and his wife Sarah (first called Sarai), and they have no children. It is against that backdrop that God speaks to Abram for the first time in Genesis 12:1-3:

            The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”


Later God promised to give him descendants "like the dust of the earth” (Genesis 13:16). Ten years quickly pass without any sign of children. Abraham is almost eighty-five and not getting any younger. Sarah is far past child-bearing age. Even though he has just won a great victory (see Genesis 14), nothing can satisfy his deep desire for a son.

Only those who have gone through this experience can fully empathize with Abraham and Sarah. There is no sadness like the sadness of wanting children of your own but being unable to have them. Even in this day of modern medicine and advanced technology, many couples wait for years and some couples wait forever.

I think Abraham’s greatest fear stemmed from the fact that God did not seem in a hurry to give them a child. How much longer would he wait? Why had he delayed? Had God changed his mind? Was there some problem he didn’t know about? Had they sinned? Were they doing something displeasing to God? Why was Sarah’s womb still closed? If God had promised, why was it taking so long to be fulfilled? Should they go to Plan B? All those questions were running through Abram’s mind. God knew exactly what his servant was thinking. He saw the doubt. He understood the fear. Now he moves to reassure Abram that all will be well. The time has not yet come for the child to be born, but it isn’t far off either.

“I Am Your Shield”
            “After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: ’Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield, your very great reward’” (Genesis 15:1).


There are at least four reasons Abram could have doubted God’s promise of a son:

1. He was too old.
2. Many years had passed since the promise had been given.
3. Nothing like this had ever happened before.
4. Sarah also doubted God’s promise.

When you think about it, there was no reason to believe-no reason except that God had promised to do it. The question now is simple: Will God’s promise be enough for Abraham?

In answer to that question, God declares, “I am your shield.” We should not think of a small shield that covers only the chest area, but rather of a shield that stretches from head to toe and completely protects every part of the soldier’s body. Such a shield offers complete protection from every attack of the enemy.

To call God our shield means two specific things:

1. He protects us in times of doubt.
2. He rescues us in times of danger.

Note that God does not say, “I will give you a shield,” but “I am your shield.” The very God of heaven says that he will be our shield, which means we have a shield that is omnipotent, universal, eternal. That shield cannot be defeated. It is as strong as God himself.

We could not be in a better position. Who can defeat us when God himself is our shield?

The great message is certainly clear. If God is your shield, fear not!

Immortal Until
It has been said that “a Christian is immortal until his work on earth is done." That statement means that nothing can harm you without God’s permission. Not cancer, not AIDS, not bankruptcy, not theft, not physical disability, not the loss of your job, not a terrible accident, not the death of a child, not any of a thousand other sorrows that afflict the children of God. Christians aren’t immune to sadness. What happens to others also happens to us. The difference is this. We know that God protects us from harm so that nothing can touch us that doesn’t first pass through his hands of love. That knowledge doesn’t mean that we don’t weep or we don’t suffer. Far from it. But it is the basis for the statement that “we sorrow but not as those who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13). Our sorrow is different precisely because we hope in God.

“You Can Do Nothing to Me”
A missionary in India told me how she had nearly been put in jail when a hostile lawyer began harassing her and the local Christian hospital. He objected to the fact that the hospital openly did evangelism along with its compassionate medical care. Seeking a pretext for legal action, the lawyer accused the hospital of illegally selling intravenous fluid to its patients. It wasn’t true, but that didn’t matter. For nearly ten years the case bumped up and down the court system of that country. At one point several years ago it appeared likely that the missionary might either be thrown in jail or forced to leave the country. “I’m going to shut down this hospital,” the lawyer chortled, “And you’re going to jail or I’ll have you deported.”

To which the missionary replied, “You can do nothing to me except what my God permits you to do.”

That’s a perfectly biblical answer. Our God is a shield around his people. Nothing can touch us except that which God permits.

Why God Delays His Answers
That brings us back to the central issue. Why did God wait so long to give Abraham a son? Abraham was seventy-five when God first spoke to him and one hundred when Isaac was finally born. He was almost eighty-five when God came to him and said, “Fear not.” After all these years God still wasn’t ready to answer Abraham’s prayers. Abraham was old, but he would be older yet before Isaac was finally born.

Of all the questions that plague the people of God, none is so vexing as the question of unanswered prayer. We know God loves us and has a good plan for our lives. Why then does God take so long to answer our deepest, most heartfelt prayers? 

We will cover this subject and other fears that were faced by those the Bible describes in Hebrews 11. Look  for the next segment of Facing Our Fears soon

See you next blog,
Ted

Comments

  1. Great post Ted! Being human, we all have fears but it's so good to know He is our shiled. I especially love this part: "Christians aren’t immune to sadness. What happens to others also happens to us. The difference is this. We know that God protects us from harm so that nothing can touch us that doesn’t first pass through his hands of love." We know He knows/sees things that we don't comprehend and we must trust that He's in control and looking out for our good.

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