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.   So they 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.


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."  
Exodus 14:12b.

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.


     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 people store up knowledge, but with the mouth of the foolish,  is near destruction". "Every prudent man acts with knowledge, but a fool lays open his folly"  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 facts!

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 14:28, 31.

     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 consequences?

     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 problem.

     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 together:

      "Delight yourself 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 goals

     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 goals?

  1. It is a statement of your faith as to what you are trusting God to enable you to do.
  2. It builds your faith because your positive words make a positive impact on your.
  3. 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 weight?)
  4. 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 out.

     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.