There are many people who love being scared. They go on rollercoaster rides, to haunted houses, through Halloween mazes, and even watch scary movies to get the “rush.” I am not one of those people. I tend to be rather skittish when I know that something is about to happen. I just want it to be over. This makes me a bad movie partner. I talk to the characters on the screen and tend to laugh at things most people don’t see as funny. Over the years my wife as learned to just deal with my movie-watching antics. This may also be a big reason we watch more movies at home than at the theater.
This past week, as our LifeGroup meeting was closing one of our members made the comment that when they start praying for God to be at work in their lives, almost immediately, they have fears pop up in their minds. As this member shared and we listened, a thought came to my mind. It was something I had thought about before but had never verbalized in quite the same way I did in our meeting. I told my LifeGroup, “Our fears are evidence of God’s grace in our lives because they reveal to us where the battle will be joined.” If we know where the battle will be fought it only makes sense to strengthen our defenses in that area.
We are created to experience fear. It is a truly remarkable quality to the human experience. It is a built in defense mechanism. However, what many of us do not always see is that our fears are warnings we are supposed to take notice of. We are overcome my our fears rather than learning what is causing them so we can stop being afraid.
I have started saying that fear is faith in the wrong thing. When we are fearful we have replaced the comforting truth of God’s word and God’s character and God’s promises with something that is unable to sustain us. That is why we fear. We become afraid when we realized that what we wanted to hold us up cannot support what we are entrusting to it–our lives.
I know that there are some things we fear that are not life altering, i.e., my own fear of heights and spiders. I can’t explain or control these fears, but they do affect how I live my life in some way. So, what do we do when we have a fear of greater import? How do we respond when we are afraid that we have failed God in some way? What do we do to overcome our anxiety of falling back an undesired habit or pattern? How do we overcome the feeling that God will not be able to do something we are asking his help in doing?
These are genuine issues we all face. I am sure we could all come up with a list of fears we have as it relates to our faith journey. The question we must ask ourselves is how can we trust God to help when we feel unworthy?
The place I go for encouragement and a reminder is 1 Corinthians 10:13:
13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
God provides a way of escape for every temptation we face in life. The choice we have to make is to take it. It is already there. Paul seems to indicate that the way of escape is apparent because it is tied to the temptation itself. When we are being tempted, the solution is right in front of us. We know what it is because we are the ones being tempted.
Our fear in whatever situation we find ourselves is the signpost pointing to the way out. We have to trust it and follow it. There are many reasons we fall prey to fear. But, the most prominent of them all is that we already know what we must do and many times we choose not to choose the path to freedom. If we want to overcome our fears we ought to put our faith in the right thing (i.e., God) and see our fear as a grace of God pointing me to the way of escape he has provided.