Franklin D. Roosevelt is famous for the quote, “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.” But for many of us, fear seems like a constant variable that we can’t control. And given the world we live in today, it’s easy to understand why. Just watch 5 minutes of any newscast and you will see a host of things happening around the world that have the ability to strike terror in our hearts. Disease, war, governments in chaos, natural disasters, poverty, persecution, just to name a few.
Concern and Worry
And we aren’t wrong to have legitimate concern about these and many other more personal issues. Is my spouse being faithful? Will I be the next one fired from this company? Will my child be healed from this disease? None of these are sinful concerns or questions that shouldn’t be brought to God. But, when our concern turns into sinful worry or anxiety, it happens, typically, because we have allowed legitimate concerns to get out of control in the way we perceive them. Simply stated, our fears become sinful when they become bigger than our God.
A Fearful Servant
Our example today comes from 2 Kings 6:8-23. The Syrian king had gotten wind that Elisha (one of God’s chosen prophets) had been receiving information about the king’s plans to attack. This was information God was revealing to Elisha in secret, and it was being used by the Israelite army to avoid Syria’s attacks. This obviously did not make the Syrian king happy, so he sent an army to capture Elisha. As the army is approaching, Elisha’s servant looks out and sees the city surrounded by the enemy. This would qualify as a legitimate concern. He turns to Elisha and asks (paraphrased), “We’re outnumbered and in danger. What are we going to do?”
Elisha’s response is at first curious as he says, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 2 Kings 6:16
He then turns to God and prays, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” 2 Kings 6:17a
A Vision of Strength and Hope
And all of a sudden Elisha’s servant is able to see the surrounding mountains full of horses and chariots of fire. For one brief moment he was privileged to see into the spiritual world as he saw the army of the Lord prepared to fight on their behalf. What confidence this had to bring to this fearful servant! But what a lesson for us all.
What are We Truly Fearing?
Concern turns into worry when it clouds our vision of who God is and what He can do. Much like Elisha’s servant, we need to learn to open our eyes in the midst of our fear and see the hope and strength that is ours. This isn’t because of anything we possess on our own, but because of who God is and what He possesses. When we become fearful, we are typically struggling with one of the following three aspects of God’s character —His sovereignty, His wisdom, or His love.¹ Here are three questions that may help you as you analyze where your struggles with fear may lay.
Do I trust that God is in control and will do what is best for me (sovereignty)?
Do I trust that God always knows what is best for me (wisdom)?
Do I trust that God deeply wants and will give me what is best for me (love)?
I’m sad to admit that in my life, as I look at those questions, I become fearful usually because I am doubting God’s love for me. I know He is ultimately in control and that He is most-wise, but if He truly loved me, I falsely think, then I wouldn’t be dealing with whatever is currently happening in my life. But the very opposite is true.
Open Your Eyes to His Love
He loves me so much that He wants to continue to make me into the image of His son (Romans 8:29). He allows these concerns to come into my life so I can learn how to trust Him more. As I trust Him more, I build up endurance which I so badly need as I continue to walk in this sin-cursed world. That is why James gives us the command that he does:
“Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1:2-4
James doesn’t tell us to have joy simply so we have a smile on our face when there is fear or sadness in our hearts. He calls us to joy because as we learn, like Elisha’s servant, to open our eyes to who God is and what He is able to do in the midst of our concerns, we learn to trust Him more and more. And that is something to be joyful about!
Fear doesn’t have to rule our hearts. Open your eyes and bring the sovereign, wise, and loving God into your circumstances. As you do, your fears will diminish. Not because your circumstances will immediately change, although they may. But because they will pale in comparison to the awesome greatness of our God.
¹This concept is discussed in Jerry Bridges book, Trusting God.
This blog was originally posted at CrossPoint Fellowship Church, view the original post here.