President Franklin D. Roosevelt made famous the statement, “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.” These words were spoken during the height of the Great Depression and were a reminder that it was fear that was stoking the fire of the economic turmoil.
I wonder if FDR would have survived the political fallout today of suffering from polio. He was 39 years old when he contracted the
disease and the paralysis in his legs would have sidelined many folks today, some because of public opinion, others because of fear. Roosevelt overcame his fears, resumed his political career and achieved the highest office in the land.
Fear is also one of the greatest enemies of the faith. It paralyzes us from taking important steps of obedience. It hinders preachers from proclaiming the fullness of the Gospel. It overshadows our personal decisions in wanting to follow God’s plan for our life. For some, the fear of our economic security might paralyze us from pursuing the ministry or from investing financially in the kingdom of God. If we are afraid of rejection, we may be paralyzed from sharing the Gospel. The prescription to fear is faith expressed in acts of obedience. It is when we take steps of faith that we realize the Lord is powerful and faithful.
The Bible is filled with stories of people who fear. Fear drove the Israelites toward disobedience on the eve of their entering the Promised Land (Joshua 11-12). They believed that their future was in their own strengths and feared that God would not be with them, even after all of their needs were met by God’s mercy. Fear overwhelmed King Saul when he refused to wait for Samuel to offer the sacrifice before battle and ultimately cost him his crown (1 Samuel 13). Fear overcame Peter when he was asked if he knew Jesus (Luke 22) which led him to fulfill Jesus’ foretelling that Peter would deny him three times.
In Charles Shulz’s comic strip, Peanuts, Charlie Brown is tricked by his friend Lucy every time he tries to kick a football that she is holding for him. Each time, as Charlie Brown runs to kick it, Lucy pulls it away at the last moment. Charlie Brown wavers despite Lucy’s assurance that this time she will really, really hold the ball. Unfortunately, he never learns. We all have experiences with other people who have made empty promises and we end up falling down while they seem to never care. Those who have experienced this sort of abuse can grow to distrust everyone instead of just the Lucys in our life. Sadly, many take this same distrust to their relationship with God. What is the solution? It is easy to answer but can be difficult to act on. By God’s very nature, as a truthful, faithful and sovereign God, God can always be trusted. We simply need to be obedient.
During the temptations, Jesus told Satan to get behind him; that is, to go away. We would do well to simply tell fear to go away. Discouragement, go away. Weariness, go away. God is faithful. God will lead you to and through every situation in life. Ensure that you are pursuing God’s will. Pray deeply, search the Scriptures, seek counsel from godly friends and church leaders. Then, act in faithful obedience. God is always faithful.