We are inundated with things to be afraid of: crime, death, and loss all top the list presently. As we attempt to be courageous we are often bombarded with the latest woe and recent development that we had previously never entertained before. New statistics, side effects, and data seem to pile on a daily dose of anxiety as we endeavor to be brave. So just how are we supposed to be fearless at a time like this?
Fear came occasionally before the Coronavirus. It was more of a seasonal emotion: appearing in our lives periodically. With the advent of the global pandemic and news that seemingly changes by the minute, fear has become a more dominant presence in our world, and in us.
We are inundated with things to be afraid of: crime, death, and loss all top the list presently. As we attempt to be courageous we are often bombarded with the latest woe and recent development that we had previously never entertained before. New statistics, side effects, and data seem to pile on a daily dose of anxiety as we endeavor to be brave. So just how are we supposed to be fearless at a time like this? How are we supposed to resist the temptation to be overwhelmed by fear when there is an abundance of things to be afraid of?
Photo Credit: © Unsplash/Engin Akyurt
In the Presence of Fear
When we look to the pages of Scripture, there are people who faced scary circumstances, and yet overcame their fear. What principles can we learn from their lives to guide us in our present season?
In the last chapter of Deuteronomy we see the death of Moses, a great leader and deliverer for the children of Israel. Deuteronomy 34:10-12 (NIV) describes Moses by saying, “Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, who did all those signs and wonders the Lord sent him to do in Egypt—to Pharaoh and to all his officials and to his whole land. For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.”
When he died the Israelites mourned for him for 30 days and it was after this time of weeping that Joshua emerged as the new leader. Moses had laid his hands upon Joshua, and as a result, he was full of the spirit of wisdom. It was now time for him to lead the children of Israel into the land God promised.
Immediately, the Lord gave Joshua his assignment in Joshua 1:2 (NIV), “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. ”
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Do We Have Reason to Fear?
Joshua was not given transition time. He went from grief to his first major assignment at the onset of his leadership journey. Surely, he must have felt a little anxiety and fear. Maybe he questioned whether he would be able to complete the task that was set before him. This may be why we see the Lord encouraging him multiple times. In Joshua 1:6 (NIV) God said, “Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.” Then God said it again in verse 7 and again in verse 9. God saw the need to reiterate the words three times directly to Joshua.
He did not suggest it or say He thought it would be a good idea. God commanded Joshua to “Be strong and courageous.” It is probable that because the Lord knows our thoughts before we think them, He knew these were the very words Joshua needed to hear.
He needed the reassurance and confidence that came from hearing God essentially say choose strength and courage. God never acknowledged the presence of fear or weakness, He simply told Joshua over and over to choose the opposite attributes.
The Presence That Pulls Us Through
It could be that God repeated this encouragement because He knew Joshua would be tempted to reflect on the past in light of his future. In Numbers 13:27 (NIV) it says, “We went to the land where you sent us. It really is a land flowing with milk and honey… But the people who live there are strong, and the cities have walls and are very large. We even saw the descendants of Anak there.” Although Joshua was among the men who confidently gave a report on the promised land he may have been tempted to fear and shrink back in light of the fact that it would now be him leading the people and not Moses.
Joshua had to look beyond what he could see and trust in what he could not see: the presence of God. He needed to believe that the Israelites would be victorious not because they could match the strength of those living in Canaan, but because the sovereign God of Israel would be with them.
These words remain true for us today. Currently we are staring at the giants of sickness, unemployment, death, financial collapse and isolation. The Coronavirus itself may look like a massive giant with impenetrable walls. It may appear impossible to defeat and rebound from. As we stare these giants down God is saying the same thing to us that He said to Joshua. “Be strong and courageous. I will be with you.” We can anchor our hope in this truth no matter what we are facing today, “God will be with us.”
A Convincing Track Record
In the face of fear we can choose a kind of courage not based on mere will power or our own strength. We can choose courage and strength because God is with us as it says in Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
In quoting this Scripture we should remind ourselves exactly who God is. This is the same God who delivered an entire nation from bondage, who controls the wind and the waves, who turned water into wine, who healed the woman with an issue of blood, who raised Lazarus from the dead, who predicted his own death and resurrection, and who saved us from our sins. He has a proven track record and can be trusted in times when we find ourselves afraid.
Whatever we are afraid of, God is sovereign over those things. This does not mean we do not exercise wisdom, but it does mean we are not to be governed by our fears. We are to be governed by God. This is what Paul admonished in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” Paul wrote these words from a jail cell in Rome. This is the same Paul who faced persecution from his fellow Jews, was beaten, shipwrecked, rejected and imprisoned several times. If anyone could say God did not give us a spirit of fear it would be Paul. He faced giants of many kinds confident that the living God was on his side.
Photo Credit: © Unsplash/Lea Dubedout
Which Spirit Will You Be Filled With?
In this verse we find the truth we need to remember when we are afraid. God never bestows a mental disposition of fear on anyone. If we are overwhelmed by feelings of timidity or cowardice then the source is not originating from God. A spirit of debilitating fear comes from our enemy, the devil.
He seeks to cripple and debilitate us so that we will shrink back from being the men and women God created us to be. Here in this Scripture, Paul is reminding us that we do not have to be helpless individuals subject to the tricks and schemes of the enemy. We can be courageous because God's power and might make us brave.
God gives us strength for the journey. He offers us a sound mind and unconditional love that casts out all fear. What God offers is ours for the taking, but we must choose to accept His gifts of power, love and a sound mind, and reject that of overwhelming fear.
Kia Stephens is a wife and mom of two who is passionate about helping women know God as Father. For this reason, she created The Father Swap Blog to help women exchange their father wounds for the love of God the Father. Kia is also the founder of Entrusted Women, which she created to equip Christian women communicators of color. In addition to these ministries, Kia faithfully serves in Bible Study Fellowship and her local church in Atlanta, Georgia. When Kia is not writing or serving women, she enjoys spending quality time with her family and friends. Kia will be releasing her first book, Overcoming Father Wounds, on March 7, 2023.
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