February 4, 2022
“I’m going to be brutally honest, Mary said in our recent Zoom meeting.
She cleared her throat. “Are Christians lying? Or are some of them faking or covering up the real truth? Even though we’re believers, how can we not feel fear, have moments of doubt and feel like screaming, God, this is enough?”
No one in the group answered. Could it be because we agreed with her?
In silence, we hid those same emotions deep inside. We managed to cover them under the I-have-enough-faith notion.
But who could blame us? We’re humans and although we’re believers in Christ, we’re afraid to open up and admit that yes, sometimes we wake up and wonder what will be next? Other times we can’t even receive God’s Word well enough to face all the ugliness this painful pandemic brought.
But what spreads more subtly than the pandemic is the number of Christians who face that battle between sinking in fear or standing in faith. Peter experienced the same dilemma When the storm came. He should have believed Jesus would protect him and kick fear to the side. But instead, he expressed fear and worry, contagious enough to spread to the other disciples.
We’re all in that same boat, buffeted by that same storm of uncertainty. And while holding on tight hoping we won’t be crushed, we must choose the group to which we belong. The one that will sink in the deep waters of anxiety, swallowed by fear. Or the group who looks to God for His wisdom and has the audacity to look beyond the circumstances and dare to invite confidence. And, even in the middle of the junk, choose joy.
Sounds unrealistic? Not so if we possess the boldness to avoid these four traps.
- Avoid following your feelings.
“I feel so out of control,” my neighbor said, “like I’m just floating along and not accomplishing anything. I feel frustrated and anxious, too. This has to end soon.”
She’s walking into the danger zone. If she feels strongly enough, she’s out of control, she will believe it as valid and true and will end up indeed out of control.
So where do those feelings come from? They begin in the mind. Thoughts are like the ingredients for a cake. Blend them all together and put them in the oven of your mind. After a while, you’ll be serving the results. Mixing in thoughts of gloom will serve feelings of discouragement.
Conversely, blending thoughts that align with God’s Word, the feelings of encouragement, of hope and reassurance will dictate a healthy journey.
If Abigail had entertained thoughts of self-pity when her people were threatened, feeling like a victim would have ruled her heart (1 Samuel 25:14-20).
If Joseph allowed thoughts of unfairness while in prison, feelings of failure would have put him in an emotional prison (Genesis 39:19-21).
Had David placed his focus and thoughts on the size of Goliath, his feelings of inadequacy would have brought defeat instead of victory (1 Samuel 17:45-46).
We’re all facing a giant today. Each is unique to our circumstance. And to come out victorious, we must first “Take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Prayer: Father, I commit to be obedient, to filter my thinking and to look beyond my feelings and instead bask in the field of truth found in Your Word.
- Refuse to remain in fear.
Are Christians lying when they say they don’t fear? Maybe. Fear knocks at every door, nothing wrong with that. It’s when we invite it to come in, offer a seat in our heart and feed it more negative information from news or social media that it becomes a well-fed monster.
But not all fear is destructive. Fear of disobeying God is justified. Conversely, the fear of a pandemic, of a virus, of a low bank account, of illness or even death is unreasonable. And it turns destructive when we remain in it, giving it life, causing it to grow until it paralyzes us.
And when it does, we’re stuck, unable to move forward as we allowed fear to rule us. Inadvertently, we gave it permission to block our wisdom, drain our energy and before we know it, we’re victims, not of the circumstance, but of fear’s claws.
We can escape only if we realize fear is a spirit, lurking around compliments of Satan. He feeds fear with lies, dark news and ever so subtly, from negative comments on social media.
But why do we receive that if “God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7)? For His power at work in us conquers fear. His love pushes back Satan’s hatred. And He gives us the sound mind to recognize irrational fear.
Prayer: Father, I thank you for helping me reject fear. Moments when doubt and worry try to come in, I count in Your power at work in me to win over them.
- Dare to look beyond the circumstance.
It’s in our face, how can we look beyond the mess we’re in? Here’s a test for you. After you read this article, will you ponder and see how it changed you?
Or will you be tempted to dash over and check out the latest post? So many have become members of the addicted-to-social-media club.
The membership requirements are simple—focus on the news, take in comments from social media, keep track of statistics detailing the number of deaths, read the dark prognosis from experts and finally believe all the negative headlines—subtly, the focus is on the circumstance and not in the certainty of the power of God.
We’re not alone. The Israelites also saw nothing beyond the bad that surrounded them. They complained because they saw the lack of food, but missed the power of God at work. They challenged Moses by doubting in his leadership, but forgot God’s divine guidance. They crafted their own idols to pray and trust, but dismissed God’s faithfulness.
As they shuffled on that hot sand, they wished to go back to Egypt. We also wish to go back to the way things were. And as we keep navigating through the COVID-19 desert, God has a message:
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43:18).
Prayer: Father, forgive me for keeping my focus on the events around me. Give me the eyesight to look beyond difficulties, problems and obstacles and, instead, help me to see the fresh beginning You prepared.
- Stop believing what the world declares.
“Some stores are running out of toilet paper,” a local station reported.
That bit of information exploded in a frenzy to grab as many rolls as would fit in the overflowing shopping cart.
Why did many go into panic dashing from store to store looking for something without knowing the reason? Because, like sheep, we followed others who also heard and believed a news reporter.
In the meantime, God is also telling us we’re running out of something—wisdom. The wisdom to compare what God says, what He instructs, what He promises, how He guides, how He protects and how He provides.
The best news is the shelves of His divine store will never run out of wisdom. In fact, he announces the abundant supply: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind” (James 1:5-6).
Could that be us? Tossed by the wind that blows from the world’s deceptions? Or will we follow the wisdom Habakkuk displayed when he declared: “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior” (Habakkuk 3:17-18).
When we become as audacious as Habakkuk, defeat turns to determination. And instead of discouragement, we become defiantly brave to declare that if God parted the Red Sea (Exodus 14:21), He’ll make the way for us too. As He sent manna from heaven (Ex. 16:4-6), He’ll provide what we need. And since He made dried bones come alive (Ezekiel 37:4), He’ll do the impossible for us to–bring back what we lost, take us higher and make us stronger.
Father, I pledge my allegiance to Your truth, to Your power and Your path. My heart and mind will not entertain fear, but instead, will increase faith to believe in the victory you promised. In Jesus’ name.
How will you avoid the fear traps?
Did you know I wrote a book filled with words of encouragement, uplifting thoughts and illustrations of real-life triumph to empower you? Its title, Trials of Today, Treasures for Tomorrow: Overcoming Adversities in Life. You can get it HERE.
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