In the first lesson, we talked about fear and where it begins. Well, we all know it doesn't begin with God. The Bible tells us 365 times 'do not fear'. That is one time for each day of the year. We usually think of these verses as written to comfort us. I'm sure they are. But what if there is much more to these verses? Is God commanding us to not fear? Are we being disobedient when we fear? Let's be clear that we are talking about irrational, debilitating fear. Let's look at that kind of fear.
So where does fear begin? In our minds. Fear has been described as beginning with a small trickle and expanding minute by minute until it is so wide that all of our thoughts fall into the gully. Like erosion wears away the earth, fear wears away our ability to use logical reasoning and trust in God. You remember from science class that small creeks grow into streams, streams into lakes, lakes into rivers, and rivers into oceans. That is what we allow fear to do to our minds. It goes something like this:
- I sure am coughing. (Awareness)
- I hope I'm not getting sick. (Concern)
- It could be a cold. (Rational thinking)
- What if I am getting an infection?(Worry)
- What if I have a virus? (More worry, blood pressure rises)
- What if I have COVID-19?(Extreme worry, blood pressure rises, heart beat races)
- What if I have to go to the hospital? (breathing labored)
- What if I can't get to the hospital? (dizzy)
- What if I die? (call for help)
- Medical personnel examines you. (Diagnosis--Allergies and extreme stress brought on by worrying about your cough)
Years ago, there was a man in our church that had a heart attack. He was treated in the hospital and given instructions on how to be safe and healthy. Yet, every time we had a storm or there was a loud noise in the neighborhood, he thought he was having another attack. After several trips to the Emergency Room, a doctor told him, "Look, you are causing your pain. It's not your heart, it's your fear that is hurting you." Wow! What a great statement.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. My fear is real and telling me that the Bible says not to fear doesn't help. Now what do I do with my fear?
I'm glad you asked. I will answer that--later. For now, let's look at one thing that fear does.
Fear disregards God's plan. In Deuteronomy, God had a plan to give the Israelites the Promise Land. They knew that. Yet, they decided to disregard God's plan and stay in the wilderness. God wanted to bless His people. Because of they feared rather than trusted God, they didn't receive God's blessing.
We do the same thing. God still wants to bless His people. We fear we won't get the job we want, so we accept a lower position. We fear we will spend our life alone, so we accept a marriage proposal from someone who doesn't love God. We fear our children will be upset with us, so we fail to discipline them.
When we make a decision based on fear, we are disregarding God's plan. Fear based decisions are not rational, logical, or reasonable. But worse than that, it is faithless. It robs you of your faith in God and His blessing for you.
Just yesterday, I had to do something I didn't want to do. I had to speak to another Christian about some issues that were hindering her growth. I feared she would turn away from me. Of course, I decided to forget it and not talk to her. You don't think God let me get by with that, do you? No, He let me know that I had to speak to her. So, I spent some time on the internet with preachers that I trust, learning about how to admonish and edify a fellow Christian. Then spent time in prayer. When I did speak to her, God gave me loving words to say that built her up instead of hurting her. I can assure you that what I said is not what I wanted to say. But, they are the words that God gave me. I was able to get the point across and show the love of Christ at the same time. Had I let me fear control my thinking, I would have failed to learn from the pastors, allowed a fellow Christian to flounder, and missed a blessing that God had waiting for me.
What do you do with your fear? We will talk about that in more detail in later sessions. However, here are a few questions that will help. Ask yourself:
- Is my fear rational?
- What are the odds that this will happen to me?
- Am I failing to trust God?