Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. (Isaiah 41:10, NLT)
A few months ago, I competed in the live version of Fear Factor at Universal Studios, Orlando. I’m not sure exactly what prompted the casting people select me, but they did mention that the five of us competing were the only ones who filled out the paperwork correctly.
We didn’t have to eat bugs or lie in a box with scorpions, but we did have to make it through three physical challenges. I learned that you don’t have to be the strongest physically to compete; being mentally strong is more important.
The entire experience got me thinking more about fear. In the bible, the command to “fear not” shows up more often than any other. While fear is a common human condition, it is one that is contrary to putting our trust in God. When we fear, we believe that our circumstances are bigger than His power. Even though we may think that we have turned over our lives to Christ, fear and worry are signs that we are still trying to control things through our own strength and focusing on what we see, rather than trusting the unseen hand of God.
So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. (2 Corinthians 4:18, NLT)
For we live by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7, NLT)
What does it look like to walk by sight, rather than by faith? Here are three examples:
- A fearful life. Everywhere we look, we see potential danger. We think, “My plane could crash. I could get sick. Something could happen to my family.” By focusing on all the things that could happen, we become paralyzed and never live the life that God has planned for us.
- A self-sufficient life. Here, we see potential danger and think, “I’m big enough, smart enough, brave enough, strong enough — good enough — to handle this on my own.” We don’t rely on God because we believe that we can take on anything through our own strength.
- A cautious life. In our lives, we see potential danger and work to minimize any risks. We believe that we can manage our fears through proper planning.
In each of these three ways of dealing with fear, we look at what we can see and then try to control the outcome on our own. But if we have an eternal perspective, we have no fear concerning the things of this world. We know that God is in control and that His plans for us are perfect.
When we walk by faith, we don’t seek out pain, but we do not fear it. We do not seek to exalt ourselves and we have no fear of being thought unimportant. We do not seek out risks for their own sake, but we do not fear when God leads us into risky situations. We believe in planning, but understand that it is more important to let God guide our steps.
When we walk by faith and put our trust in Christ, we will often take steps that make no sense from a practical point of view. We are confident that God is in control, and He will exert His will for our good and His glory. We are willing to risk our relationships, our health, our finances — even our lives — because we have an eternal perspective.
So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? (Romans 8:31-33, The Message)
Oh, by the way, I came in second on Fear Factor. For anyone who knows me, that really did have to be a God thing, because there’s no way that I did that on my own.
- What fears hold you back from fully obeying God?
- How can fear keep you from richly experiencing God’s hand in your life?
- What steps are you taking to overcome your fears and trust God?