By Christopher Burgan
Fear and faith
What do these words mean?
What is fear?
Merriam Webster: An unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation of danger. To be apprehensive
Hebrews defines it as: the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
1. Firm belief in something for which there is no proof
I prefer the second definition
2. Complete Trust
I like this definition because it is simple and faith really is simple. If you say “it is the substance of things hoped for” someone might look at you like you have 3 heads. Saying that you have “complete trust” just makes sense. No matter what happens, I have complete trust that God is in control, that he is looking out for me because He made me and loves me. Its that simple.
Im going to give you a bonus F word here. Free will. fear and faith both come down to free will. We have to make the choice. We either choose to trust God, his character, our relationship with him, and his word OR we choose to look at our circumstances and our feelings and let fear control us.
There are dozens of examples throughout scripture of situations where people had to deal with this crossroads, whether to fall to fear or have faith. There are hundreds of little moments every day in our lives where we have to make this decision. Whether its something as simple as sitting in a chair, to more complex issues like dealing with finances or health issues.
Just a couple weeks ago I was in what felt like a big situation. Isaac got the stomach bug, we thought it was just a 24 hour virus, but 5 days into it, and he was still having trouble keeping food down, fear definitely started to creep in. I started to have those “what if” thoughts. I couldn’t figure it out and I was forced to make the conscious decision to trust God to take care of him. Just things like that that are so simple and mundane when you think back on them, but it was a big conscious decision at the time to have to choose to trust God. It wasn’t something i could cure medically, it was a stomach virus that you just treat symptoms and wait for the body to take care of it.
Now lets take a look at one of my favorite stories in the bible that shows a perfect picture of faith vs fear.
God has just delivered the Israelites from Egypt by the ten plagues, then they crossed the red sea, and now they are finally approaching the land that they have all known God has promised to them for generations. Moses sends 12 men in to check it out and they come back with this report:
Numbers 13:25-33 and 14:6-9
25 At the end of forty days they returned from spying out the land. 26 And they came to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation of the people of Israel in the wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh. They brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land. 27 And they told him, “We came to the land to which you sent us. It flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. 28 However, the people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large. And besides, we saw the descendants of Anak there. 29 The Amalekites dwell in the land of the Negeb. The Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the hill country. And the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and along the Jordan.”
30 But cCaleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.” 31 dThen the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are.” 32 So ethey brought to the people of Israel a bad report of the land that they had spied out, saying, “The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and fall the people that we saw in it are of great height. 33 And there we saw the gNephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the gNephilim), and we seemed to ourselves hlike grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.”…
6 pAnd Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes 7 and said to all the congregation of the people of Israel, q“The land, which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land. 8 If rthe Lord delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, sa land that flows with milk and honey. 9 Only tdo not rebel against the Lord. And udo not fear the people of the land, for vthey are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them.”
They let the fear of giants get the best of them
The Israelites did not have faith… they missed out on God’s promises because they did not take him at his word. God still accomplished his plans, he just didn’t do it with them because they let their fear win over faith.
God responds to faith. Caleb and Joshua stepped out in faith, and as such, they were the only 2 who were able to go into the land with the next generation.
Fast forward 40 years and we have that same spy who had faith leading Israel toward Jericho
“This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
God won’t tell us something that we don’t need to hear. He wouldn’t have told Joshua “Do not be afraid” if Joshua wasn’t afraid. Joshua was afraid, but unlike the Israelites 40 years ago, He CHOSE to take God at his word and had faith.
God took care of him and all the people who were with him. They marched into Canaan and took the city of Jericho in miraculous fashion
Lets look at another story
Luke 8:41-55 “41 pAnd there came a man named Jairus, who was qa ruler of the synagogue. And falling at Jesus’ feet, he implored him to come to his house, 42 for he had ran only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she was dying.
As Jesus went, the people spressed around him. 43 And there was a woman twho had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and though she had spent all her uliving on physicians,6 she could not be healed by anyone. 44 She came up behind him and touched vthe fringe of his garment, and wimmediately her discharge of blood ceased. 45 And Jesus said, “Who was it that touched me?” When all denied it, Peter7 said, “Master, the crowds surround you and are pressing in on you!” 46 But Jesus said, “Someone touched me, for I perceive that xpower has gone out from me.” 47 And when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. 48 And he said to her, “Daughter, yyour faith has made you well; ygo in peace.”
49 While he was still speaking, someone from zthe ruler’s house came and said, “Your daughter is dead; ado not trouble bthe Teacher any more.” 50 But Jesus on hearing this answered him, “Do not fear; only believe, and she will be well.” 51 And when he came to the house, he allowed no one to enter with him, except cPeter and dJohn and James, and the father and mother of the child. 52 And all were weeping and emourning for her, but he fsaid, “Do not weep, for gshe is not dead but hsleeping.” 53 And they laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. 54 But itaking her by the hand he called, saying, “Child, jarise.” 55 And kher spirit returned, and she got up at once. And he directed that something should be given her to eat.”
Jairus- Had faith to have jesus heal his daughter, then sees woman healed, then told that his daughter died.
Jesus reminds him to have faith and not fear and ultimately his daughter is brought back to life
Jairus chose, in the face of a terrible reality to still have faith that Jesus could heal his daughter.
Picture a child who is afraid curled up in a ball tense holding their knees to their chest, then they see their dad, all the fear goes away because they know they are safe with their dad. They stand up and throw their arms up to be picked up by daddy. That’s the way we should be. Our dad is always with us. We should never be curled up in a ball holding onto anything. Our father is the creator of the universe and can handle anything, all we have to do is trust him with it. Trust that he can handle it. That’s called faith. Knowing that no matter what happens as long as I go with Him, God will take care of me.
Fear traps us. Blinds us. Paralyzes us. Makes us feel like we are alone. As long as it keeps our focus, we are stuck in our mess.
God knows all too well the affect that fear can have on us, so he tells us over and over again how to deal with fear and why we shouldn’t be afraid.
Philippians 4:6-7 “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
Psalm 56:3-4 “But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you. I praise God for what he has promised. I trust in God, so why should I be afraid?”
2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”
The spirit of God is in us. We have Power to overcome any obstacle. God has given us the power do what he has called us to do.
He has put his spirit in us to accomplish his goals. So if we are afraid of stepping out in faith, we need to remember that God has not given us a spirit of fear. Fear does not come from God. God gives us a spirit of power to accomplish his plans, love to develop relationships with those in our lives, and self discipline to keep focused on the task at hand.
Let me tell you, self-discipline is something I struggle with. I easily get distracted. One of the only places I am fully focused is in the OR because there are no distractions. Everyone is focused on the same thing. When I study, I need complete silence. No music, no TV. Working out? i might do it for 3-4 days in a row, then I won’t for a week or two. I constantly need to remind myself that God has given me a spirit of self-discipline and self-control and refocus myself.
You know what happens when you start taking God at his word and acting on faith? He shows up! It becomes easier to have faith the next time, and the next time, and the next time. The more we have faith, the harder it is for fear to try to creep its way in, because we have a habit of faith. When you have a habit of faith, when a problem arises, your instinct is no longer to focus on the problem and what the consequences might be or the complications that could arise. Instead we see a problem and instinctively look to God and say alright, what are you up to? how are going to show up this time? The fear fades away because of our confidence and trust in him that arise from the habit of faith.
Faith frees us. Gives us confidence. Gives us hope.
I don’t need to tell you this, but our world is broken. Everywhere you look, people are afraid. The media lives off people’s fear. You turn on the news, open facebook or twitter, listen to talk radio, they all feed on fear and hatred, and anger. No one in the world can solve the problem’s of today’s society. Whether it is COVID, racism, terrorism, sexism, vaxers vs antivaxers, or whether the steelers should have resigned ben roethlesberger or not, there is fear everywhere. The only solution is God. Trust in him. Dont put your trust in Liberals, Conservatives, BLM, Police officers, Big Ben, or Mason Rudolph. Put your faith in God. Block out the fear. Faith frees us from the fear and allows us to shine the light to those in the darkness of fear.
We have been in a long season of battling fear and you may be tired of dealing with whatever you are facing, but the Lord is here for you.
Make the choice today and every day. Don’t be afraid. Pray(or exercise your faith.) Build your relationship with God. Take your focus off the problem and put it on the answer.
I believe I was supposed deliver this teaching so you could walk in freedom and grow in faith. God wants you to know his perfect love and joy, but fear steals that from you…your fears are real but God is more real…
Come and let someone agree with you that you will be free this morning….I made a choice to trust the Lord for Isaac. My fear was real but I fought to choose to trust the Lord…come today with whatever you are facing, and together, let’s put it in the Lord’s hands by faith.