I have been pondering this topic for a number of days. When speaking of fear in this sense, I am speaking of perceived fears and not of imminent threats, like those in Aurora yesterday. It has been a theme in my life off and on for the last ten years and it is all too relevant in our lives. Several days ago when I read ahead in our S.O.A.P. readings by a few days, I was reading the account of the Israelite scouts going into Canaan to scout out the land, the people, the fruit and the fortified cities. I began considering how despite all the wonderful things they found in the land, all but two of the scouts brought back a negative report! Why? Fear! Most of their eyes were not on all the wonderful attributes of the land, more importantly their eyes were not on God’s promise or on God who had been their provider and protector since they had left Egypt. All they could see were the giants in the land and the great fortified cities. They had set aside the fact that God had promised this land to them as an inheritance and forgot all of the provision and protection He had already provided! One leader from each of the twelve tribes of Israel were sent as scouts into this promised land called Canaan, all the scouts agreed the land is great, it is bountiful flowing with milk and honey and produces beautiful and huge fruit. Only two of the twelve could see past the fear of the giants in the land and hold on to God’s promise of this inheritance.
Joshua and Caleb believed the Lord and Caleb spoke the following words in Numbers 13:30, Then Caleb quieted the people in the presence of Moses and said, “We must go up and take possession of the land because we can certainly conquer it!” The people were terrified and threatened a rebellion. Joshua and Caleb confirmed their belief and faith in Numbers 14: 6 Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who scouted out the land, tore their clothes 7 and said to the entire Israelite community: “The land we passed through and explored is an extremely good land. 8 If the Lord is pleased with us, He will bring us into this land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and give it to us. 9 Only don’t rebel against the Lord, and don’t be afraid of the people of the land, for we will devour them. Their protection has been removed from them, and the Lord is with us. Don’t be afraid of them!” The result was the fearful people won out and because of their unbelief, entrance into the land was postponed for forty years and only Joshua, Caleb and the new generation of people were privileged to enter into the land.
The Israelites had a hard time and ultimately refused to face their fears despite the fact that they had the assurance of victory from God Himself. Most times when we are facing fears we feel as though we are facing them alone, but for those of us who are believers nothing could be further than the truth. Those of us who profess faith in God and in Jesus would profit well from realizing that faith is in direct opposition to fear and vice versa. The two can not coexist. The enemy uses fear to paralyze us and render us ineffective. He will attack our trust and faith in God, in others and in ourself but we are not defenseless. We can choose to take the measure of faith that God has given us and build it up by knowing His Word.
Fear is defined as a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid according to Dictionary.com. Looking back on my life, I realize that over the years I have responded in both the way of the 10 spies and the way of Joshua and Caleb. There were times I would have preferred to run and avoid, other times I made a choice to act in faith and face the fear head on. By far, facing the fear head on has always been the best choice! It has helped me to be a more rounded and better person whether it was facing fear of guns by agreeing to let my son teach me to handle one correctly and target practice, flying half way around the world, speaking in or leading a small group, and even this blog. There is great freedom and victory in facing one’s fears!!