In this strangest of years, we’ve had to deal with restrictions on our activities, our jobs, our churches, our contact with family, and a bizarre election. Some have seen loved ones pass away. Others have struggled through Covid itself. We’ve all been touched.
I’m sure many of us may have asked, or heard others ask, “God, where are you in all of this? Why did you let this happen?”
The Bible tells us we will have trouble in this world. Not one of us is immune. We’re not wrapped in bubble wrap, much as we might like to be. We live in a broken world, and we are broken people. Not one of us is perfect. And we have an enemy who is out to destroy us any way he can. Satan attacks our thoughts, our finances, our relationships, our families, our homes, our jobs, our churches. He doesn’t care which weapon works. He’ll keep attacking until he finds the one that pulls us away from God.
Even if we call ourselves Christians and profess to be saved, we will not escape storms. But God has equipped us to handle any storms that come our way. If we trust in him and not our own understanding.
Storms and tough times are going to come in life. They are the opportunity to see how strong our faith is and how strong God is. Storms are a way for him to produce much good.
And God is right here with us. Psalm 23 tells us God is with us as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death. We will experience evil, but we do not need to fear it because Jesus is there. The key word in this verse is “through.” With God by our side, we go through the valley of death. We don’t stay there, unless we choose to give in to the fear and let it paralyze us.
Recently, I heard a minister preach that fear is a choice, not an obligation. Fear is optional, like having Brussels sprouts on pizza is optional. And about as appetizing.
There is a verse of Scripture I believe can give us much strength during this most abnormal year. It is from the book of Isaiah in the Old Testament: When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. Isaiah 43:2 (New Living Translation).
God is with us in the deep waters, in the difficult rivers, in the fires of oppression. We will not drown or be consumed by flames if we trust in him. Even when we don’t understand, please don’t choose fear.
The lack of fear is not the absence of trouble. The lack of fear results from an abundance of faith in God. Fear shrinks when faith grows. And faith grows when we listen to God and walk in his presence. Faith is a muscle we need to exercise.
Fear is an emotion. We can’t always control our emotions, but we can choose how we respond to them. Can we just choose faith over fear? Not in our own strength. We need to be daily building our faith so we don’t cave into fear when it raises its ugly head. We build our faith muscle by spending time with God, conversing with him and his Holy Spirit through prayer, meditation, and studying his Word. One of the most important verses for this is 1 John 4:18 (New King James Version), Perfect Love casts out fear. Pondering God’s perfect love helps shrink the fear in my heart.
How can you exercise your faith muscle today?
This blog is inspired, in part, by Preston Morrison, Senior Pastor of Gateway Church Scottsdale, AZ, from a sermon he gave at Gateway Church, Southlake, TX. Here is the link: Don’t Be Afraid.