“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Deuteronomy 6:31, NIV
From Genesis to Revelation, God exhorts believers not to be afraid. Join me this week as we venture to be fearless in a world packed with reasons to fear.
Don’t Enter Fear
“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”
Isaiah 4:10, NIV
Our nation was in the throes of the Great Depression when President-Elect Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered a message of hope in his 1933 inaugural address: “This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”
Roosevelt couldn’t have articulated it better. Fear paralyzes. It keeps us from moving forward regardless of the fact that most of the things we fear never happen.
According to a 2014 study by the National Institute of Mental Health, public speaking remains the long-standing number-one fear on the list of the nation’s top ten phobias. It makes sense: I’ve taken the platform in front of others throughout my life; I’ve acted in school plays, sung in choruses, chaired organizations, delivered keynotes, facilitated Bible studies, led spiritual retreats, participated in dramas, and presented monologues, yet there are still times when I hesitate to step into new speaking opportunities because of my fears.
A few years ago, I was asked to perform a role in our church Christmas drama. In spite of the queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach, I accepted. Although I’d acted before, I couldn’t shake my fear. I had nightmares about forgetting my lines and dreaded the two upcoming performances.
The first night, I breezed through my lines in spite of my fear. The second night, despite my previous success, fear plagued me. Listening for my cue, I paced the hall outside the church sanctuary and prayed. Frustrated with my inability to shake the nerves, I asked God, “What’s the matter with me? You’ve proven yourself faithful. Why can’t I trust you?”
His reply was quick. “You are trusting me.”
“How am I trusting you?” I said. “This doesn’t feel like trust to me.”
“You’re here, aren’t you? You’re doing it. You’re doing it afraid.”
He was right. (Of course He was. He’s God.) On cue, I stepped out into that auditorium filled with people and delivered my lines. They were flawless. I did it. I did it afraid!
Trust is seldom comfortable. Trusting God doesn’t mean we’ll never be anxious or fearful. Trust is walking in obedience in spite of our fear―believing in God’s ability and relying on His strength when we can’t muster our own.
Does fear hold you hostage? Does it sabotage God’s best for you? God wants to protect us from unwarranted fear. Trust Him, even if you have to do it afraid. He knows what He’s doing. He will lead us to victory.