Summary: Life can be frightening; How do I follow God through my most overwhelming fears?
November 10, 2002
7But when Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabs, Ammonites, and Ashdodites heard that the work was going ahead and that the gaps in the wall were being repaired, they became furious. 8They all made plans to come and fight against Jerusalem and to bring about confusion there. 9But we prayed to our God and guarded the city day and night to protect ourselves.
10Then the people of Judah began to complain that the workers were becoming tired. There was so much rubble to be moved that we could never get it done by ourselves. 11Meanwhile, our enemies were saying, ¡§Before they know what¡¦s happening, we will swoop down on them and kill them and end their work.¡¨
12The Jews who lived near the enemy came and told us again and again, ¡§They will come from all directions and attack us!¡¨„T 13So I placed armed guards behind the lowest parts of the wall in the exposed areas. I stationed the people to stand guard by families, armed with swords, spears, and bows.
14Then as I looked over the situation, I called together the leaders and the people and said to them, ¡§Don¡¦t be afraid of the enemy! Remember the LORD, who is great and glorious, and fight for your friends, your families, and your homes!¡¨
15When our enemies heard that we knew of their plans and that God had frustrated them, we all returned to our work on the wall. 16But from then on, only half my men worked while the other half stood guard with spears, shields, bows, and coats of mail. The officers stationed themselves behind the people of Judah 17who were building the wall. The common laborers carried on their work with one hand supporting their load and one hand holding a weapon. 18All the builders had a sword belted to their side. The trumpeter stayed with me to sound the alarm.
19Then I explained to the nobles and officials and all the people, ¡§The work is very spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall. 20When you hear the blast of the trumpet, rush to wherever it is sounding. Then our God will fight for us!¡¨
21We worked early and late, from sunrise to sunset. And half the men were always on guard. 22I also told everyone living outside the walls to move into Jerusalem. That way they and their servants could go on guard duty at night as well as work during the day. 23During this time, none of us¡Xnot I, nor my relatives, nor my servants, nor the guards who were with me¡Xever took off our clothes. We carried our weapons with us at all times, even when we went for water. Nehemiah 4:7 - 23 (NLT)
There is a reality TV show called ¡§Fear Factor¡¨ that displays people facing up to their fears. Some things they have to do are really disgusting. They eat worms, bugs, and parts of formerly living creatures! I do not qualify [ever] as a contestant!
What is your greatest fear? Is it sickness, the unexpected big bill, an accident, growing old? Is it death, losing your good looks, spiders¡K¡K¡Kreally big spiders?
What exactly IS fear? There are many synonyms used to identify fear ¡V worry, nightmare, terror, phobia. There are all kinds of words to describe that most common life-paralyzing event called fear. There is fear of closed-in places, claustrophobia. There are people who are afraid to leave the familiar confines of their homes, agoraphobia. I used to love to climb trees as a kid; now I can¡¦t stand heights¡Kit¡¦s a phobia, a fear! I even heard a new one recently, audio-biblical-peda-phobia ¡V a fear of sermons that step on your toes! (Only kidding¡Kdon¡¦t be fearful).
Apart from the technical names, there is a less technical approach to understanding fear. We have all experienced what it feels like to fear. Dr. Walter Cannon, a pioneer researcher in psychosomatic medicine at Harvard Univ., describes what happens to the human body when it becomes angry or fearful: "Respiration deepens; the heart beats more rapidly; the arterial pressure rises; the blood is shifted from the stomach and intestines to the heart, central nervous system, and the muscles; the processes of the alimentary canal cease; sugar is freed from the reserves in the liver; the spleen contracts and discharges its contents of concentrated corpuscles, and adrenalin is secreted." (1)
Whatever the definition or correct terminology, fear can rob you of your life. One day in July, a farmer sat in front of his shack, smoking his corncob pipe. Along came a stranger who asked, "How’s your cotton coming?" "Ain’t got none," was the answer. "Didn’t plant none. ’Fraid of the boll weevil."
"Well, how’s your corn?" "Didn’t plant none. ’Fraid o’ drought."
"How about your potatoes?"