Trusting God with Our Fears
BY WOODROW KROLLHow much do you trust God today? Do you trust Him in raising your families? Do you trust Him in your finances? Keeping things straight at home? This message is on trusting God with your fears. Have you learned how to trust God with your fears? Have you learned how to turn your fears over to God?
There are various kinds of fears that you and I face every day. Some people face the fear of failure. Others face the fear of being alone. And most people face the fear of death. Those are some of the fears I want to talk about.
The fear of failureDo you fear that you are going to fail, and as a result you don't even try to succeed? To start with, I think failure needs some definition. William A. Ward said, "Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead-end street." Yet, today we have a tendency to look to failure as the ultimate embarrassment. We fail, and therefore we can't
look another person in the face.
Because we have the fear of failure, for instance, we don't witness for the Lord God. Because we have fear of failure, we don't tell our friends and our relatives about the saving faith of Jesus Christ. Because we have fear of failure, we don't do for the Lord what He wants us to do. The best way to avoid failure is to be nothing, say nothing, believe nothing and do nothing. The best way to be a failure is to try nothing.
Real failure is not to try and fail, but to fail to try.
Abram. Now think with me about some folks in the Bible who were afraid of being failures. Abram feared he had failed as a father. We read in Genesis 15:1,2: "The word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, 'Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.' But Abram said, 'Lord God, what will You give me, seeing I go childless?'"
God had promised Abram a good posterity. God had promised to make of him descendants like the sands of the sea and the stars of the sky. Yet, he had no children at all. He had no son to carry on his name. He feared that he was a failure as a father.
But just about the time his fear was the greatest, God appeared to him in a dream and said, "Don't be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward." You see, Abram had to learn to turn his fears over to God.
Israelites. The Israelites feared that they had failed to escape from Egypt. You remember the story in Exodus 14. The Red Sea was in their front and the Egyptian armies at their back. The people thought that they were hopelessly trapped. But Exodus 14:13 says, "And Moses said to the people, 'Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever.'"
I like the way the Bible says that. "You'll not see them again, no more forever." That's an impressive way of telling the Israelites that if they put their fear in the hands of God, God will take that fear from them. God will make them successful.
So, if you have fears of failure today, remember Abram: he feared that he failed as a father, but God said, "Don't fear." Remember the Israelites: they feared that they failed getting away from those who held them captive, but God said, "Do not be afraid."
Moses. But what about Moses? Moses feared that he had failed as a leader of the Israelites when he came upon Og, the king of Bashan. Og would not permit the Israelites to travel through his land on the way to the Promised Land. But the Lord appeared to Moses and said, "Do not fear him, for I have delivered him into your hand, with all his people and his land" (Num. 21:34).
You see, just about the time Moses thought he was a failure, God appeared to him and told him, "Don't be afraid."
David. When David was concerned that Solomon would fail to build the temple of God, the father challenged the son, saying: "Be strong and of good courage, and do it; do not fear nor be dismayed, for the Lord Godmy Godwill be with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you, until you have finished all the work for the service of the house of the Lord" (I Chron. 28:20).
You see, David was concerned about the potential failure of his son. He reassured him, "Don't be afraid. Just give your fears to God."
Now dear friend, if you have fear of failure today, don't. Even if you do fail, it's not the end of the world; it's not a dead-end street. Failure is what God uses to teach us how to be successful. So give your fear of failure to the Lord God today. Don't be afraid. Don't be afraid to serve Him. Don't be afraid to witness for Him.
The fear of solitudeNow, instead of a fear of failure, maybe your fear is a fear of solitude. You are afraid of being all alone by yourself.
Rejection. Sometimes you are afraid of the solitude of being rejected by others. If that's the case in your life, I think you can take comfort from the experience of Hagar.
You remember the story of Sarah and Hagar. There was trouble; it was inevitable that there would be trouble between the two. At the insistence of Sarah, Hagar was thrown out of the house and driven into the wilderness. She prayed that God would not allow her to see the death of her young son Ishmael.
While Hager was there alone with the little boy, an angel of God appeared to her and said, "Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is. Arise, lift up the lad and hold him with your hand, for I will make him a great nation" (Gen. 21:17,18).
There she was, out there in the wilderness all by herself. She had the fear of the solitude of rejection. But God said, "Don't be afraid. I haven't rejected you. I will make of your son a great nation."
So, if you are afraid of being rejected by people at church or by your own family members, give that fear to God. God says, "Don't be afraid."
Loneliness. Maybe the solitude of fear that you have is the solitude of the night. Perhaps you're a widow who must spend every night at home alone. You remember the days when there was a husband in your home and there were children running around. Now you're all by yourself and you have the fear of the night.
If you do, remember Jacob. When he was fleeing from Canaan, from his brother Esau, and was on his way to the old country he stopped off at a place called Bethel. You can find that whole account in Genesis 28:11-17. "He came to a certain place," says verse 11, "and stayed there all night, because the sun had set."
It was nighttime. He found some stones and used several of them as the pillow for his head. He laid down and there he dreamed.
You remember his dream. Jacob dreamed that he saw a ladder extending all the way to heaven. Ascending and descending on that ladder were angels. Standing at the top of the ladder was the Lord God Himself, who made certain promises to Jacobpromises about his family and how God would bring him back to the land, would not leave him, would not forsake him, but would do for him what He'd promised to his father Isaac and his grandfather Abraham.
We then read in Genesis 28:16, "Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, 'Surely the Lord is in this place.'" Folks, I think that's a very valuable lesson to remember when you're facing the fear of solitude. Remember that you are not really alone. Surely the Lord is in this place.
There was a time when David found himself all alone in the wilderness of Judah. But by then, he had learned to turn his fear to God. And so, he was able to write the beautiful Psalm 63, where we read in verses 3-6: "Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You. Thus I will bless You while I live;When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches."
If you're home alone and you're afraid, give your fear to God. When you're alone on your bed, meditate upon the Lord God. Let Him bring to you songs in the night. Psalm 91:4-5 promises, "He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler. You shall not be afraid of the terror by night."
The fear of deathThe fear that paralyzes people more than any other kind of fear surely is the fear of death. Henry van Dyke said, "Some people are so afraid to die that they never begin to live."
But remember the Lord God gives us exceeding great and precious promises in His Word that should cause us to give up our fear of death.
We read in Psalm 23: "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me."
No more sting. That's turning your fear of death over to the Lord God. That's asking the question, "0 death, where is your sting?" and giving the answer that Paul gave in I Corinthians 15:57: "Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
John Sutherland Bonnell in his book Heaven and Hell says, "Christians had lost all fear of death. Since, therefore, the fear of death is the mother of all fear, when it has been destroyed,
all other forms of fear are thereby vanquished."
Folks, I have good news for you. Jesus has destroyed the fear of death. He has vanquished the fear of death because He has beaten death. He's alive today. He makes it possible for you not to fear death. He makes it possible for you not to fear solitude. He makes it possible for you not to fear failure.
The fear of fearBut if there's any kind of fear that you and I have to deal with, perhaps it's the fear of fear itself. It was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt who said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Our greatest enemies are fears that paralyze faith. Fear has a paralyzing quality to it.
When you give your fears to God, however, the paralysis is taken away. You see, he who fears God needs fear nothing else, and he who fears not God needs to fear everything else. The fear of God kills all other fears.
You're building a trusting relationship with God. But if you're like me, you have many fears in your life. If you're like me, you need to learn to turn those fears over to God. You can trust God for your family. You can trust God for your finances. Today, folks, learn that you can trust God with your fears. Give them to Him. Let Him care for them. o
Dr. Woodrow Kroll is General Director of Back to the Bible, P.O.Box 82808, Lincoln, Nebraska 68501.
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