June 4, 2016

Fear can control our lives

In reading the book of Job today, I remembered an early statement he made about “the things he feared had happened.” He said this after losing almost everything, including his children. He did not know, and was never told, that his faith was being proven to Satan who had challenged God. This was spiritual war at the highest level. Job’s situation went far beyond his fears and calamities.

Chambers’ topic today is fear. Both his devotional and Job got me thinking. Did the people in Fort McMurray fear their city would burn? Did the family of the victim in a gun fight fear that their son would die in a hail of bullets? Did the woman just diagnosed with lung cancer fear that she would get this terrible disease? I know that many people are fearful about many things.

This kind of fear is a powerful controller of lives. It isn’t merely being anxious that something bad will happen. It is more like a lack of courage that can drive normal, intelligent people into abnormal and foolish behavior. Yet this fear is not from God “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7). In this verse, some Bible versions call this ‘timidity.’  

Often being timid is related to concerns that other people can harm them. For this, God says to His people: 

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6)

Others, like Job, were more concerned about what God could do or allow to happen in their lives. I relate more to this fear. Like Job, this is a spiritual war because the more I determine to obey the Lord, it seems that the more Satan determines to challenge God about me. “She only believes because You put a hedge of protection around her. Take that away and see what happens. She will give up trusting You . . . .” (see Job 1:8-11)

God promises to never forsake me or fail me, yet He makes no promise that life will be like heaven — without any pain or perversities, without anything that will stretch me, or put my faith to the test.

People have remarked on my vast experiences and unusual events, but do not realize that much of those were tests of faith and came at a cost. When God wants to prove that I will trust Him no matter what, then I’d better determine to hang on tight, rely on Him as my helper, and not waste time or energy listening to my fears or any fear-mongers who try to analyze what is going on.

As for the verse in Hebrews, love of money equals trusting money. Not only that, love of information and education equals trusting brain-power. Love of being in control equals trusting my own might and power. The Bible tells me:

Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 9:23–24)

Fear is the direct result of setting aside God as all that I need. Some say the things that we fear never come to pass, but Job and my own experiences prove otherwise. Sometimes they do happen, but even then, I am to trust the Lord who is with me, loves me, and is my helper.

These thoughts are timely. A family matter has me fearful — another test. Will I trust God? Or will I go around with a knot in my stomach because I’m afraid of what could happen and afraid that my faith will fold under this looming test? I’m thankful that God will help, and will not forsake!

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