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 31:6 (NIV)
When I was in seminary, I took a personality profile test. It identified me as a people pleaser. A people pleaser is one who will adjust their words and actions to accommodate others. The motivation behind this is the need to be accepted; to be liked. Throughout my life I have struggled with this. I have often failed to say something that I should have said out of fear that the other person will not like it. People pleasers usually struggle with the fear of not being accepted by others.
Fear is one of Satan’s most powerful weapons for immobilizing Christians. Out of fear people will follow the crowd and do things they know are wrong. Out of fear people will isolate themselves. Out of fear people will stay in a negative situation rather than make significant changes in their lives. Fear can cripple an individual believer or a whole church.
Over 60 times in the Bible we are told not to be afraid. Before Joshua led the people into the Promised Land, God told him, do not be afraid. When God called Jeremiah to be his prophet, God told Jeremiah, do not be afraid. While Daniel was in captivity, God told him, do not be afraid. When Jesus sent out the Twelve as his ambassadors he told them, do not be afraid. After Jesus rose from the dead, he met his disciples in the upper room and told them, do not be afraid. When Jesus called Paul to be the apostle to the Gentiles, he told him, do not be afraid. The message of God is very clear; he does not want us to live in fear. God’s words to Joshua give us some clues about overcoming fear in our lives.
We can overcome fear because we know that God will never abandon us. At the beginning of WWII Great Britain stood alone against the onslaught of Nazi Germany. All of Europe had fallen. Only Great Britain remained free from Nazi occupation. The United States made a choice to make its resources available to England. It was the knowledge that they were not abandoned that gave the Brits the courage to keep going. No matter what the circumstances are that we face, we know that the resources of God are always available to us. He will not leave us to fend for ourselves. The resources of God are inexhaustible, so we can trust him with our future.
We can overcome fear because we know that God is standing with us. When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, America entered WWII as a full participant beside Great Britain. Instead of just making resources available, America actively stood beside Britain in battle. It is one thing to know that we are supported from a distance. It is something completely different to know that someone will face our situation with us. The last promise that Jesus gave to his disciples before he ascended into heaven was I will be with you to the very end of the age. Jesus is standing beside us to fight every spiritual battle we face. We are not alone in our struggles.
We can overcome fear by being strong and courageous. When Timothy was tempted to give in to fear, Paul wrote him words of encouragement. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV) There is a difference from being apprehensive and being dominated by fear. When fear takes over, we run away. Courage is the strength to take our stand in the face of our apprehension. The ability to do that comes from God and not from us. We can overcome fear because Christ has empowered us.
In Ephesians 6, Paul challenges us to tap into the power of Christ as we face our enemy Satan. Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Ephesians 6:10-13 (NIV)
We do not have to live in fear. We have the power, through Christ, to face every challenge of life. Through Christ, we have already won the ultimate victory. Our life is secure in Him for all of eternity. We can stand firm in his mighty power.
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33 (NIV)