Saturday, April 14, 2018


Fear is a stalker. It stalks me at night, in my dreams, in the sunlight, and even as I sit at my computer. It terrorizes me with visions of danger, thoughts that are too heavy to bear.

I cannot lock them away in my drawer or flush them down the toilet. They are merciless. No kind words will coax them to leave. Nor will they tolerate distractions. Fear pushes them aside like a sheet blowing on a laundry line.

What hope do I have? Fear laughs at my defenseless estate. It oppresses at will. But my Savior is at hand. Without Him, I can do nothing (John 15:4-5):

·           Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine. Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you. (Psalm 33:18-22)

What can I do to oppose fear? There are certain truths that we must bear in mind. Fear is a loser. Our God transforms fear into His servant by working even this malevolent tormentor into our good (Romans 8:28). Consequently, we need not fear. For even when we are overrun by fear, He turns our weakness and vulnerability into strength (2 Cor. 12:7-10). How does He do this? Paul had explained the process in the first chapter:

·           For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. (2 Corinthians 1:8-10)

Our afflictions wean us away from our reliance on ourselves. This leaves us with only one viable choice – God.

How do we trust Him? By knowing that He is our only hope! While hiking, a man fell off a cliff but caught a root in his fall. Dangling, he cried out, “Is there anyone there to help me?” God responded, “Just let go, and I will catch you.” Not satisfied, the man continued to cry out, “Is there anyone else there to help me?”

When we realize that God is our only hope, trusting Him becomes effortless. Unfortunately, we are distracted by an assortment of false hopes. Foremost among them is self-reliance.

But how do we trust in the Lord. First, it helps to remember what He has done for us in the past. If He has delivered us before, He can deliver us again.

We should also not be surprised that we will be afflicted “beyond our strength.” If we could handle the affliction on our own, it wouldn’t teach us how to trust in God alone (Psalm 62). Therefore, Peter warns:

·           Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. (1 Peter 4:12-13)

Not only will affliction – and I think that fear is one of the worst – wean us away from self-trust, it will also wean us away from a love of ways of this world and its comforts so that we will long for Jesus. Comfort sees little use to make any changes.

We need afflictions. For the first years of my Christian life, I would read the Bible for those passages that would make me feel good about myself and validate my worldview. However, affliction has taught me to distrust my ways and to value only God’s ways.

Nevertheless, fear has condemned me to many sleepless nights. How then have I overcome fear? Well, I haven’t, but I am able to stand. How? I endure by knowing my Savior and His promises:

·           Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:13)

My eyes are on Him. In Christ’s good time, He will deliver me and bring me home to be with Him for all eternity. Meanwhile, I am assured that He has a purpose for our afflictions. King David even thanked Him for these afflictions:

·           It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes. The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces. (Psalm 119:71-72)

What seems negative is really positive. It was my afflictions that drove me to God. In Him I have found comfort, instruction, and even the glory of serving Him:

·           Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:20-21)

As “ambassadors for Christ,” we have been entrusted with an ennobling commission and a life-changing message. As we keep our eyes on this prize, we can endure.

·           I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. (Psalm 34:4-7)

If you haven’t noticed, it is these afflictions that have made me love His Word and to glorify Him by demonstrating how His truth are so essential.

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