Definition of FEAR (noun)
1 a : an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger
b (1) : an instance of this emotion (2) : a state marked by this emotion
2: anxious concern
3: profound reverence and awe especially toward God
We recently wrapped up a summer series at church on the subject of faith. The study was an exposition of Hebrews 11. If you haven’t taken the time to really study that chapter, I’d highly recommend doing so.
As described in Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Faith is the foundation of our relationship with God. We have hope for/in a world that we’ve never personally experienced (heaven) and steadfast belief in the supreme creator whom we haven’t seen with human eyes.
In my time of prayer today I started thinking about faith and its enemy – FEAR (the human kind). It would be great if the only definition of fear we experience is the one noted in number 3 – the Godly fear. Proverbs 1:7 and numerous other verses in the bible make it clear that we should fear the Lord.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7)
The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, In those who hope in His mercy. (Psalm 147:11)
Though a sinner does evil a hundred times, and his days are prolonged, yet I surely know that it will be well with those who fear God, who fear before Him. (Ecclesiastes 8:12)
Do not let your heart envy sinners, But be zealous for the fear of the Lord all the day; (Proverbs 23:17)
And Moses said to the people, “Do not fear; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin.” (Exodus 20:20)
Unfortunately, the fear that I am writing about today is not reverence. It’s the fear that slowly erodes faith. You don’t think fear undermines and damages faith? How can it not when the very heart of faith requires us to fully trust in God? How can you fully trust in God who is all the things noted below AND more, yet still be afraid?
Jehovah: The one who possesses all authority. (Exodus 3:13-15)
Infinite: The one with no beginning, no end, and no limits. (Romans 11:33)
Omnipotent: The one who has limitless power. (Jeremiah 32:17, 18, 26 and 27)
Love: The one who cares so much for us that He sacrificed His ONLY Son for our eternal salvation. (1 John 4-7-10)
Jehovah-Jireh: The one who provides. (Genesis 22:9-14)
Omniscient: The one who knows all that existed before, what exists now and what will exist in the future. (Psalm 139:1-6)
Holy: The one who is absolutely untainted. (Revelation 48:11)
The questions are easy to ask, but not as easy to answer – at least for me. What answer can I possibly give that would make sense? I proclaim immovable faith in God, yet I am “anxiously concerned” everyday about matters as simple as daily provisions and trying to find another career. Through human eyes these issues seem insurmountable. I sit and I sweat thinking of all the ways that I will never succeed and of all that it means to leave a job that is secure (or as secure as any job can be in this economy) for something unknown. Even typing it out to share with you has my heart racing and my blood pressure rising.
Where is the faith in that fear? I’m scared of not having provisions, yet I serve Jehovah-Jireh. I’m scared of the unknown, yet I serve the one who is omniscient. Do you see something wrong with this picture? I have this image of God sitting there for the last several months shaking His head and patiently waiting for me to come to this conclusion. You can’t serve Jehovah and fear. It’s one or the other. Either I have faith in Him being the ONLY authority and the one who is THE provider and the one who loves me completely, or I don’t. For the past two years I’ve been on this journey to really know God and one thing that’s been made clear is that He doesn’t accept a double-mind. James 1:6-8 says “6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”
I’d love to say that I don’t have days like today when I’m scared out of my wits about the future career and how that ties into my Godly purpose. Lying is a sin so I won’t say that. What I will say is that God, knowing my human weakness, prepared for the fact that I would have fear. In preparation for it, He has armed me with countless stories and verses in the bible to remind me of all the reasons why I shouldn’t fear. He’s done His part. Now it’s my job to meditate on those words before I start to allow fear takeover my faith. Remembering that James 1:6 says “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting…,” I will pray this simple prayer for me (and for anyone reading this and struggling with whatever your personal fear might be).
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your many attributes. Even if we had forever we could never capture everything that You are. Thank You God that You have all those magnificent attributes but still choose to associate with us who are lacking so much. We glorify Your holy name Lord because You deserve all the glory and praise. We know that without You there would truly be a lot to fear. But thank God we don’t have to experience that because we do have You. Thank You for Your saving grace Lord. Thank You for Your saving grace that not only promises us a future with You in eternity, but also promises to transform us here on earth. Lord, for those of us who are in need of a transformation from fear to faith, we pray with faith truly believing that You will make a change. Help us Lord daily to seek You and request from You a spirit of courage: the courage that can only come from knowing who holds our future, who held our past and who is holding our present. Lord, we are sorry that we’ve been a people who are double-minded. What an insult it is to You to be so. Forgive us this sin Lord as You’ve forgiven us many others. Let us have a mind that stands firmly planted on the side of faith. One that knows that if we keep our hearts set on You, all the other things will follow. Help us Lord to be so focused on You and in glorifying You that our faith is strengthened daily so that it can eventually leave no room for fear. Remind us to trust in Matthew 6:33 “ But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” We pray all this in the holy name of Your Son Jesus. Amen.
As always, your thoughts are appreciated.
Names and Attributes of God by The Navigators
The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer; 6
Names of God by Nathan Stone
My favorite lines from the song In Christ Alone:
No guilt of life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
‘til He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand
God of Glory by Kenneth Landon