Facing Our Fears
One of the trends most of us have observed is
putting warning labels on everything. It started with cigarettes
which was a very good idea. From there it spread to all kinds of
medicine, electric gadgets, tools and appliances. Today, it is so
widespread that we can sit down to breakfast; grab a box of
cornflakes and written on the side is "Consult your doctor first."
This trend is the result of another trend called
"sue-happy-Americans." Powerful manufacturers have been put out of
business or drained of millions and even billions of dollars as a
result of court judgments for product liability. The corporate
business world has become to afraid of being taken to court that
they are putting warning labels on everything. The land of
opportunity has become the land of safety first.
We are told that these trends come from a desire
to have a risk free society. We want cradle-to-the-grave security
where all the risks have been removed.
The fact is that it is impossible to remove all
the risks from society. When a baby takes his or her first step, the
taking of risks has begun. It increases when they strap on roller
skates and again, when they climb on a bicycle. When they get 16 and
start driving a car the risk factor sails right off the charts. It
is impossible to live our lives without taking risks. Sometimes the
risks we face grip us with fear and paralyze us from going forward.
This is what happened to Israel when they came out of Egypt to the
edge of the Red Sea. Pharaoh, the ruler of Egypt, had a change of
heart about letting Israel go. He mobilized his army and pursued
Israel. He said, "They are wandering aimlessly in the land; the
wilderness has shut them in." "Then the Egyptians chased after
them with all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh…and they overtook
them camping by the sea…And when Pharaoh drew near, the children of Israel
lifted their eyes and behold, the Egyptians marched after them.
were very afraid,…" Exodus 14:3, 5, 9, 10. Israel was
hemmed in by wilderness on either side and the Red Sea lay before
them. What would they do?
If you check verses 1-3
in chapter 14, you find that God was the
One Who led Israel into this situation. Why did God do this?" For
the same reason He allows us to get into similar situations. He
wants His people to learn to live by faith. Israel’s first response
to having their faith tested was fear. Our first response to
having our faith tested is often the same.
WHAT FEAR DOES TO US
It makes us skeptical
"Then they (Israel) said to
Moses, ‘Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you
taken us away to die in the wilderness?" Exodus 14:11. Fear caused
Israel to doubt and lose hope. They doubted Moses, God and
themselves. Fear makes us skeptical.
Fear makes us focus on self
In effect, Israel was saying to Moses, "Just look
at the terrible mess you’ve got us in." When we are facing something
that causes us fear we tend to react by saying, "Poor me, somebody
got me into this awful situation." We start looking for somebody to
blame and begin laying accusation on the most likely candidate.
Fear makes us resent change
"…We told you in Egypt, saying, ‘let us
alone that we may serve the Egyptians’" Exodus 14:12a
Never mind that we had been slaves for
generations. Never mind that we had been abused, overworked, beaten
with whips and had no rights. At least, we know what to expect. Now,
we don’t know what to expect and it scares us to death." No matter
how terrible the past or how wonderful the potential of going
forward, fear will cause us to resent change.
It makes us have a negative attitude
"…For it would have been better for us to serve
the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness."
They felt there was nothing that could keep them
from being killed in the wilderness and their negative attitude made
their bitter lives of hard labor and bondage in Egypt look like "the
good old days."
When we consider that God commissioned Moses to
bring Israel out of the bondage of Egypt; that God performed ten
miracles that made the Egyptians willing to let Israel go; that God
promised to give them the promised land of Canaan and god’s presence
was with them this very moment in a pillar of cloud and fire it is
clear that God’s will was to lead them on to freedom. And yet fear
threatened to vaporize the faith to go forward with what God wanted
them to do.
The sad thing is that God’s children still face
situations which threaten to paralyze them by fear and keep them
from going forward to do what God wants them to do.
HOW DO WE MAINTAIN FAITH IN FRIGHTENING
There are five principles that will enable us to
keep our faith:
The principle of information: Get the facts.
The principle of evaluation: Count the cost.
The principle of preparation: Plan our steps
The principle of declaration: Announce our goals.
The principle of initiation: Let go and launch out.
The Principle of Information - Get the facts.
Any undertaking that requires faith has an
element of risk about it, be it an accomplishment, a problem, an
obstacle or a threat. There are those who say, "I don't spend the
time, effort or money gathering information. I just trust God." The
scriptures reveal that attitude is not faith, but presumption and
probably stupidity. From Proverbs 10:14 we read, "Wise
up knowledge, but with the mouth of the foolish, is near
"Every prudent man acts with knowledge, but a fool lays open
Proverbs 13:16. "The heart of the prudent acquires knowledge, and the
ear of the wise seeks knowledge". Proverbs 18:15. "Buy
the truth, and do
not sell it…." Proverbs 23:23.
When we are making a major decision about any
course of action we should gather information first. Talk to some
one who has been there and done that. Information can also be found
in books, videos, cassette tapes, seminars, and on the internet.
Studies have shown that most new businesses fail because of
uneducated enthusiasm. Most marriages fail for the same reason. Get
The Principle of Evaluation - Count the cost.
Jesus commented, "For which of you,
intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the
cost, whether he has enough to finish it---…" "Or what king,
going to make way against another king, does not first sit down and
consider whether he is able with ten thousand to
meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand?" Luke
What's it going to cost in time, effort, and
money? What's the upside…the advantages? What's the downside…the
disadvantages? Is it necessary? Is it worth it. What are the
It's easier to get into debt than get out of it.
It's easier to fill your schedule than fulfill your schedule. It
easier to get into a relationship than it is to get out of it. It's
easier to start something than it is to finish it. Count the cost!
The Principle of Preparation - Plan your steps
"….The prudent considers
well his steps."
Proverbs 14:15. It's the person who takes time to think about the
details of their undertaking who is usually successful. They list
the ingredients or supplies needed…the people they need to
enlist…the orderly steps they need to take, etc. They think things
through; anticipate problems and have solutions ready before the
problems even come up. They don't blindly stumble from problem to
It is necessary to point out something very
important. We must follow these principles in harmony with and
reliance on God. In any undertaking there is man's part and there is
God's part. Last Sunday we talked about great expectations based on
faith in God. We were emphasizing God's part. As we talk about
"Facing Your Fears" we are emphasizing man's part. For a believer to
be truly successful these two aspects must not be divorced from one
another. Let's consider how the scripture binds these two aspects
also in the LORD; and He shall
give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD,
Trust also in Him, and He will bring it to pass." Psalm 37:4, 5. "Trust
in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own
understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct
your paths." Proverbs 3:5, 6. "A man's heart plans
his way, but the LORD directs his steps." Proverbs 16:9.
As we plan and prepare we pray and count on God
to direct us. He promises that He will.
The Principle of Declaration - Announce your
We should let it be known what we are setting out
to accomplish. The book of James, 4:15, tells us how to do this.
"…You ought to say, 'If the LORD wills, we shall live and also do
this or that.'".
So why is it important to announce your
- It is a statement of your faith as to what you are trusting
God to enable you to do.
- It builds your faith because your positive words make a
positive impact on your.
- It makes you accountable. When the going gets tough it's
harder to have a relapse of faith and say, "Nobody knows about it,
so I'll just quit." (Have you experienced those trying to lose
- It attracts support. People who agree with your goal will say,
"That's a good objective and I would like to have a part in it."
Announce your goal.
The Principle of Initiation - Let go and launch
Letting go is the hard part. Note that Israel had
the opportunity at the Red Sea to exercise faith in God and march
forward to freedom. Instead, fear took over and they said, "We've
made an awful mistake. We should have stayed in Egypt." At this
point slavery looked better than uncertainty.
Why do people stay under the control of
destructive habits?…remain in destructive relationships…continue in
destructive practices? because fear holds them in bondage to the
past. It's painful, but it's predictable.
How do we get the courage to let go and launch
out when we know an undertaking is God's will and leads to better
things? David made a statement in Psalm 56:3 that gives the key: "When
I am afraid, I will put my trust in Thee." Courage is not the
absence of fear. Courage is going forward and doing what you know
you ought to do even when you have fear. We get this kind of courage
when we keep trusting God even when we have fear. Paul wrote, "I
can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me." That included
the times he had fear.
. It was at this instant that God said to Moses,
"Why are you crying out to me? Tell the sons of Israel to go
forward." (Exodus 14:15). Moses did, and the people started
marching. Then God told Moses to lift up his staff toward the Red
Sea. When He did, God went into action and divided the sea so Israel
could go over. The best definition of faith is belief in action.
When our faith is real we act on it. That's when God goes into
action for us.
What undertaking should you be going forward on
today…in your personal life…your family life…your social life…your
vocational life…your spiritual life?
Let me encourage you to take these principles to
heart and put them into action. Move out of the land of defeat and
go forward into the land of freedom and fulfillment.
Copyright © 2002 Thomas E Berry
All Scriptures quoted from NKJV unless otherwise noted
Copyright © 2008 Truth Helpers Inc.