Summary: Sermon 2 in series on fear

The Fear Factor


One of my favorite passages of Scripture is 2 Corinthians 4:8-10 because it speaks of the struggle of life and at the same time the ultimate victory.

2 Corinthians 4:8-10

In every way we’re troubled but not crushed, frustrated but not in despair, persecuted but not abandoned, struck down but not destroyed. We are always carrying around the death of Jesus in our bodies, so that the life of Jesus may be clearly shown in our bodies.

Fear of Failure

Christians are not normal people. We don’t think like normal people. We aren’t cynics or optimists. We are people who see life from an unearthly perspective. Normal people see life rooted firmly in the human view – which is most often dirty, messy, and broken.

Listen to Stephen Pile’s comment on human success…

Success is overrated. Everyone craves it despite daily proof that man’s real genius lies in quite the opposite direction. Incompetence is what we are good at. It is the quality that marks us off from animals and we should learn to revere it.

Stephen Pile, The Incomplete Book of Failures

Stephen Pile chronicled some of the biggest failures in modern history.

There was the teacher who said that Thomas Edison was, "too stupid to learn." And of course there was Albert Einstein’s teacher who said that little Albert was, "mentally slow, unsociable and adrift forever in his foolish dreams."

Do you think that big companies are always successful? Remember the “Edsel”? It was noted for a door that wouldn’t close, a hood that wouldn’t open and horn that wouldn’t honk. There is not on record of anyone every stealing an Edsel!

Then there was the Decca Records executive that rejected the Beatles because they wouldn’t amount to anything and the newspaper editor who fired Walt Disney because he lack ideas. And of course it’s only to be expected that the Disney executives years later would be the ones who rejected Star Wars, claiming it would flop at the box office. And then there was “New Coke”. That lasted all of 6 weeks!

Then there are the little failures…

During 1978 during the fireman’s strike in England, the British army took over emergency firefighting. On January 14 they were called out by an elderly lady in South London to retrieve her cat. They arrived with impressive haste, very cleverly and carefully rescued the cat, and started to drive away. But the lady was so grateful she invited the squad of heroes in for tea. Driving off later with fond farewells and warm waving of arms, they ran over the cat and killed it.

Fear of Failure

We all mess up, fail, and make bad choices

but this doesn’t mean that we should fear failing or that real success is at worst impossible and at best elusive to all but the lucky elite.

But most people today are so afraid of failing or so cynical about the possibility of success that they don’t really try to do much of anything. They are paralyzed by fear and hopelessness.

It is true that we fail…

Even at our best, we fail. Welcome to the human race! I hope you’ll see your failures as something less than fatal and certainly not to be feared. Don’t be afraid of Failure! Overcome it! Use the failures to become a better person and a stronger reflection of the reality God painted in you when he imagined you.

One of mankind’s most remarkable failures led to remarkable progress.

Have you ever heard of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge? It was also known as “Galloping Gertie”! The first Tacoma Narrows Bridge was built in 1940 to connect the city of Tacoma and the surrounding Puget Sound with the Peninsula area and thereby not only encouraging growth, but making a fine shortcut to the Olympic Mountains. Certain design flaws were to be the bridges undoing however as it collapsed a mere 4 months and seven days after dedication.

The bridge soon became a regular tourist attraction. People came from all around the area to pay their toll to ride the roller-coaster that was called Galloping Gertie. At times the rolling was so severe that you couldn’t see the car in front of you.

From the day of its opening the bridge began to experience oscillations. Strange as it may seem, traffic on the bridge increased tremendously as a result of its novel behavior. Starting at about 7:00 on the morning of November 7, 1940, the bridge began undulating persistently for three hours. Segments of the span were heaving periodically up and down as much as three feet. At about 10:00a.m., something seemed to snap and the bridge began oscillating wildly.

At one moment, one edge of the roadway was twenty-eight feet higher than the other; the next moment it was twenty-eight feet lower than the other edge. At 10:30 a.m. the bridge began cracking, and finally, at 11:10 a.m. the entire bridge came crashing down. Fortunately, only one car was on the bridge at the time of its failure. It belonged to a newspaper reporter who had to abandon the car and its sole remaining occupant, a pet dog, when the bridge began its violent twisting motion. The reporter reached safety, torn and bleeding, by crawling on hands and knees, desperately clutching the curb of the bridge. His dog went down with the car and the span - the only life lost in the disaster.

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