I remember the day I gave my first speech in a college class. The speech lasted ten minutes, and it focused on what I wanted to do with my life, and how I planned on getting there. Because of the nature of the speech, there really was no right or wrong, and it would have been very difficult to receive a poor grade. Despite these factors, I was absolutely terrified. Anxious thoughts about the speech filled my mind for days beforehand, causing my knees to go weak, and my heart to beat quickly. When the day of the speech finally arrived, I delivered my presentation in a nervous fog, only feeling relief once I sat back down.
When was the last time you felt that way? When was the last time you experienced something that downright terrified you, sending chills through your bones? When was the last time you felt fear?
Fear is doubting the promises of God. It distorts the truth of God and leads us to believe that we are alone and that God is not in control. And if we let it, fear will take over our lives.
The Israelites are a perfect example of what happens when you let fear take over your life. If anyone should have possessed complete faith in the ability and sovereignty of God, it should have been them. Numerous times, God displayed his power and faithfulness to the Israelites through miraculous phenomena, releasing them from their captors, parting the Red Sea for them to cross, and providing them with food literally coming down from the skies. At every turn, he promised to provide them with a home, land, and great wealth in the land of Canaan, all while displaying his ability to fulfill his promises. Based on his track record, the Israelites had every reason to trust and obey their God.
However, this is where fear enters their story--this is where the Israelites doubt God’s promises to them. In Numbers 13, God tells Moses to send twelve spies into the land of Canaan to scout out the area, wanting them to see for themselves the land He would give into their hands and bring back a positive report to the rest of the people. But things don’t quite go as planned. When the spies returned from Canaan, ten out of the twelve spies doubted God’s ability and God’s promises. Here’s what they said: “The people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large….We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are” (Num. 13:28, 31b).
The Israelites spies were scared to take what God had promised them, because they let the size of their enemies distract them. They saw that their enemies were stronger and bigger than they were, and so they subconsciously believed that their enemies were then stronger and bigger than their God. They saw their enemies and suddenly God Almighty, the great I AM, shrunk in their sight.
That’s what fear does to us. It enlarges our fears and shrinks our God. The cancer diagnosis, the loss of a loved one, the pay cut,….it seems overwhelming and unbearable. God seems very far away and distant, while our fears seems all too near and present.
It doesn’t matter if this fear is of delivering a speech or if it’s of having enough money to provide for your family. All fears are signs of not trusting in Christ for the things in our lives. There are no big or small sins, no big or small fears. Anything that turns our eyes off the face of God is a sin that placed Jesus on the cross.
Before the Israelites came to the point where they let their fear take over, God had repeatedly assured and promised them what their future would hold. There was no uncertainty in where God intended to take them, and, therefore, no reason to fear. And though we may look at them and scoff, how quickly we forgot the promises that God has made to us. God promises to never leave us (Hebrews 3:15), to work all things together for our God (Romans 8:28), and to prepare a place for us in Heaven (John 14:3), and these are just three of his numerous promises all throughout Scripture. God gave us these promises so that we would trust them. He gave us these promises so that we would have no fear about the future, and so that we would bring Him glory through our faith in Him
However, this doesn’t mean storms won’t come into our lives. They will, so we must prepare in advance, using the truths God has given us in His word. We must read, study, meditate upon, and memorize his promises to guide, encourage, and comfort us in those moments. We must be ready to extinguish the fiery darts of Satan with the truth from the water of life. As we go into 2020, I encourage you to consider your own life and the places you are quick to fear. Give those places over to Christ and begin bolstering yourself with truth for the battles you will face. And take courage: we know how the story ends.