Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Fear. Fear is such a powerful emotion. When I look at the basis for so many actions in this world, I see fear at the heart of those actions. I see fear both as motivator and paralyzer. Proof of fear being so prevalent in human nature can be noticed through its frequent mention in the Bible. There are those (through tongue and cheek) who note that the phrase, (or some variation of the phrase) “Do not fear” shows up hundreds of times in the Bible. Although that is hard to verify, it does show up a lot.
The frequency of the phrase tells me two things. First, it is common for humans to experience fear. Second, God is aware of our fear and is there at our side as we walk through our fear. Sometimes in my life, I look at the Bible as being uncommon, an ideal life somewhere in the distance. But, when I dive in and look at things like fear, I see where great men of the Bible had fear. I see where Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, David, Elijah, and many others acted out of fear. God saw their fear and walked with them through it. He showed them that He was in control. This makes the Bible come alive for me.
So, God tells us in many ways and many times, “Do not fear”. I believe that many times I read this phrase (or one similar) and feel shame for my fear. Instead of admitting my fear to God and to others, I hide my fear…for fear of not being aligned with God. Therefore, I hide or deny or even repress my fear. But does it really go away? Not by doing one of those three acts. When I deny my fear that I am truly feeling, I am out of integrity with myself. I am not living in truth.
As I think about this and how God reacts to fear, I notice that God does not express that I will not fear…He says, “Do not fear”. Therein lays the difference. God allows for my fear yet tells me do not fear. Wait a minute, did I contradict myself? Not really. God knows I will have fear. In fact, I think Jesus even felt fear prior to the physical pain he was going to suffer and the separation from God he would endure carrying our sins to the cross. God knows I will have fear, but He tells me to not fear to remind me who is in control. Verse
9 of this passage points this out for me. God tells Isaiah that he is chosen and not rejected by God. Doesn’t God tell me the same if I am in Christ Jesus? That is what God reminds me when He tells me, “Do not fear”. God knows the end game.
So, what do I do with my fear? First of all, I must admit I have fear. If I repress it, it does not go away. In fact, many times it will leak out of me in the form of unhealthy anger. By admitting my fear, I can do something with that fear. Better yet, I can let the Holy Spirit of God help me through my fear. Secondly, I look for the source of my fear. Does it come from within me? Is it tied to shame? Is it tied to a wound from my past? By examining what it is tied to, I can better manage the fear. Third, I use my fear to drive me. There is energy in fear. Most of the time, I use this energy to repress my fear. However, if I turn that energy toward action, I can push through my fear. Finally, I must remind myself that God has my back. Even if I fail, which I fear, God has a plan. Despite my shortcomings, God’s plan will prevail.
I want to conclude by re-quoting a passage we use in in a group exercise from The Crucible Project from the book A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson:
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?” Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world."
Fear not, for God is with you!
1. What do you fear the most?
2. Where do you think that fear comes from?
3. What do you gain out of that fear?
4. What is at risk for you to give up that fear or fight through that fear?
5. What have you feared in the past that God saw you through and you recognized such?
6. This week, ask God to reveal to you His leading through your fear. Pay attention to how God helps you through that fear.
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