By Ryan Shaw
Fear is one of the strongest emotions human beings possess. Every human being who has ever lived has experienced its power. It is completely natural and often helpful, protecting us from a range of potentially threatening situations.
However, it is also one of Satan’s greatest schemes to keep believers from growing into who we are meant to become. There is nothing wrong with fear itself. It is our response to fear that usually trips us up.
God reminds His people throughout the Bible “Do not fear.” It is a recurring phrase. Scripture repeatedly reminding us “not” to do something reveal particular areas needing our focused attention to walk in victory. Overcoming fear is one of these.
Moses had been a legendary leader with God’s presence resting upon his life and leadership. Joshua must have been overwhelmed to take over the leadership of the Israelites from this giant of faith.
He obviously was quite insecure about how he would be received, if he would live up to the expectations placed upon him by others, himself, and the position he was filling. In Joshua 1:5-9 the Lord assured Joshua of His presence with him and declared to Joshua to be “strong and courageous” as a result. He stated this four times in five verses. God was stamping this message of overcoming fear onto Joshua’s insecure spirit.
Our role is to resist allowing fear to hinder us. Often “fear” is simply an inadequate “trust” in God which He is seeking to develop.
This issue of trust is at the center of our heart’s natural, sinful bent. A lack of trusting God for circumstances in our lives and ministries reveals our depravity. This is why the Lord will continue to test us, over and over, in this area of trust and overcoming fear.
As we abide with Jesus, He imparts an inward confidence to overcome our tendency to be paralyzed by fear. This doesn’t mean we don’t have any fear in our hearts. It means we do not allow fear to hold us back from faithfully serving God and living according to His will.
Though we may feel very real fear about making a certain decision to follow the will of God, we don’t focus on the things that could go wrong. We “trust” more in the importance of obeying and trusting then on the potential problems.
Satan enhances fear by sowing deceptive thoughts in our minds. “What will they think if you do that?” “How will your boss react if you don’t go along with what he is doing?” “You are being awfully risky with your family by trusting God?” “Who do you think you are by thinking you could do something like that?” “Is that unpopular stance really loving and tolerant of others?” “What if you trust God and He doesn’t come through?”
Paralyzing fear is a massive roadblock hindering many of God’s people from participating in the will of God. Too many withdraw from following God’s leading because of perceived risky unforeseen circumstances.
These are usually related to finance, physical safety, reputation or fear of failure. Facing and overcoming fear in the situations we face is part of growing in faith in Christ.
This starts by consciously living with the transforming awareness that “God is with us.” Living with the reality of God’s powerful presence in our midst changes everything. We grow in being steeped in what God thinks and it empowers us to respond rightly in fearful situations.