Fear is a natural part of life, but it wasn’t part of God’s original design. In the Garden of Eden, Adam had no fear of lions and tigers and bears—or of cockroaches, if there were any before the fall.
Today, fear can be useful, providing a sudden surge of adrenaline that makes us acutely aware of dangerous situations so we can take appropriate actions. However, chronic fear can paralyze us from moving forward into the blessed life God intends for us.
Fear is not only destructive it is contagious. Just like radiation or chemotherapy is used to destroy cancerous cells, God knew he had to take radical action to eradicate the spiritual cancer of unbelief.
The Problem With Fear
- Fear distorts the size of our problems.
I read somewhere that a fog covering seven city blocks doesn’t contain enough water to fill a glass, but it will stop you in your tracks. In the same way, it doesn’t take much fear to fog our thinking and our ability to function. Fear distorts the size of our problems.
That’s what happened to the Israelites. I’m sure if you and I were part of that spy network, we would have said to Moses, “Look, there are giants in the land. And they are, well . . . gigantic!” This is what we say to the Lord whenever difficulties block our path and separate us from the blessed life. We look at them and think about what it’s going to take to deal with those problems.
Like a funhouse mirror, fear distorts our perspective, fooling us into believing that the terrifying shapes we see reflect reality. They do not. Were there giants in the promised land? Yes, there were. But giants compared to what—compared to whom? Size is relative. Compared to the Israelites, the giants were huge. Compared to God, the giants were tiny.
- Fear utilizes the wrong standard for analyzing our situation.
If you measure your problems according to your abilities, you’re going to feel like a grasshopper in your own eyes. But if you measure your challenge by God, your problems aren’t eliminated, but they are put into perspective.
- Fear forgets the power of our God.
Interestingly, all twelve spies in Numbers 13-14 agreed on what they saw in the Promised Land: land flowing with milk and honey and giants roaming the countryside. But they came to two very different conclusions: ten said the obstacles outweighed the benefits and the two said the benefits outweighed the challenges. The majority allowed fear the guide their decision and two allowed faith the guide their decision.
Memory and experience should have empowered the Israelites, but it didn’t. They weren’t being asked to trust in some unknown voice from above; God had promised them that land. Yet the Israelites convinced themselves that the same God who had taken care of them in the past would not do so in the present.
Eight times throughout Scripture we’re assured that nothing is too hard for God. Check out these verses: Genesis 18:14; Job 42:2; Jeremiah 32:27; Zechariah 8:6; Matthew 19:26; Mark 10:27; and Luke 1:37 and 18:27.
I looked carefully into the Hebrew and Greek texts to see what nuances the word “nothing” has to teach us. Do you know what I found? “Nothing” means nothing—not a thing; not a part, share, or trace; not anything; in no respect or degree; nada; zilch—is too difficult for God.
The Israelites knew all this intellectually. But they couldn’t put it together practically. They let fear rule their hearts.
- Fear destroys the promise of our future.
Fear brought the nation of Israel to a staggering halt. It paralyzed them, keeping them from moving forward and inheriting the land God had promised them. The same can happen to you and to me. Fear will render us incapable of moving forward in the pursuit of God’s plan for our lives. It will blind us to the future.
The Antidote To Fear: Faith
Two words define faith: assurance and conviction. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Assurance has to do with our beliefs and conviction has to do with our actions based on those beliefs. Faith is believing that God will do what he has promised to do, and conviction is acting accordingly.
How do you develop that kind of faith that allows you to act courageously?
- Realize that fear is a normal reaction (Psalm 3:1-4).
Fear may be your first response, but it doesn’t have to be your final response to challenging situations.
- Reflect on the promises of God (Psalm 34:4).
Google “Bible promises from God” and read and memorize those verses.
- Remember and recount God’s faithfulness to you (Psalm 34:1).
We should constantly be reminding ourselves and those around us of God’s faithfulness. Parents and grandparents should pass on to their children and grandchildren stories of God’s faithfulness. God does not change. His power is never diminished. The same God who was available to grant the Israelites success 3500 years ago at Kadesh Barnea is able to grant you success as well. That is why you never need to be afraid.
The same God who gives us victory is the same God who is able to remove the mountain you are facing and is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond what you ask or even think.