Summary: Message 12 in our Judges series. This is the third message dealing with the topic of fear.
Judges Series #12 Life Cycles
“Understanding and Handling Fear” Pt 3 (Trust More Fearless)
In our study of Judges, we have discovered that God powerfully enlists the most unlikely to accomplish the impossible, even the fearful and timid. Some of the words associated with fear.
The Bible translates several related words -- trembling, shaking, shuddering, or cringing, fear, honor, fearful, terror, awe, worship, disheartened, dismayed, be in dread, reverence, or respect, disturb, terrify, cowardice, timid.”
Fear is a tangible involuntary reaction to a perceived or actual threat to my well-being that is either present or potential that requires some sort of intentional response.
Fear is a physiological reaction triggered by actual events or circumstances that threaten my well-being i.e. Earthquake, dangerous environment, rejection. Threats to our well-being come from all directions in all levels of intensity.
Here is just a brief summary of threats in the Bible that triggered feelings of fear.
Fear of destruction, death, and conflict.
Fear of bodily harm.
Fear of uncomfortable circumstances.
Fear of loss
Fear of rejection, ridicule, retaliation or retribution.
Fear of the unknown
Fear of hurting others
Fear of people
Fear of false accusations
Fear of sudden fear (Prov 3:25)
Fear of conspiracy (Isa 8:12)
In addition to real life threats, fear can be triggered by a perceived threat (exists only in my thoughts) to my well-being.
Fear that I have cancer
Fear something will happen to my family
Fear of losing my job
Fear of getting sick
It is a waste of emotional energy to obsess on possible threats. We need to focus our energy to deal with what IS not to waste energy on what might be. These perceptions trigger an emotion anywhere from a slight uneasy feeling to a full-blown incapacitating phobia.
As I mentioned previously, our instant connection to events and threats from around the world by way of media connection only fills our mind with a mountain of previously unimagined danger. New enemies, new diseases, new wars, new tragedies, new conspiracies, new bubble bursts, global warming, global freezing, polluted water, governmental threats to our freedom all displayed before us in living color or dying color in some cases. Such emotions we call fear, anxiety, stress and worry require tremendous amounts of energy. God designed us to physiologically react to threatening situations. Fear readies us for action against a threat.
I mentioned previously that fear and trust are incompatible. I need to qualify that statement.
The feeling of fear is involuntary. My system automatically reacts to a threat to my well-being or to the well-being of loved ones. That adrenaline rush prepares me to act on the threat. There are any numbers of actions resulting from fear. It is the fear related to imagined or future threats that are incompatible with trust/ faith. God specifically instructs not to fear what might happen tomorrow for today has enough problems of its own. Threatening situations WILL materialize all through our life. How we respond determines whether we grow in faith or grovel in fear.
The first thing to do is to analyze the fear-triggering event.
Ask some pertinent questions.
Is the threat real or imagined?
Is the treat happening in the present or am I worried about some future possibility?
What are the chances of this calamity happening to me?
Is there anything I can do about it?
If I can’t do anything about a situation, worry and fear is not going do anything either.
Real threats require specific action. Imagined threats require specific thinking and perspective change.
The Second step is to consider an intentional response.
I think this is what Scripture means when it says they strengthened themselves in the Lord.
We need to listen for God’s instruction.
If God tells you to fight – fight.
If God tells you not to fight – don’t fight.
If God tells you to run – run.
If God tells you to stand – stand.
God told Elijah to flee after he confronted Ahab. He went into hiding for several years until the word of the Lord came to him again. This time the Lord instructed him to go back stand and confront Ahab.
Sometimes the strength of the emotion triggered by the threat paralyzes us. Sometimes God tells us to stand still and see the salvation of God.
Constant fret over a real or perceived threat is NEVER healthy. It keeps us in a perpetual state of fear. It keeps the adrenaline flowing without an outlet or action. Paul told the Philippians to STOP worrying or fretting. Rather than deal Biblically with the real threat with appropriate action, we stew and fret.
4. Faith -- TRUST
The primary response to fear must be faith. By faith, I mean trust and obedience. In the face of the threat that triggers the fear, we must first affirm our trust in a faithful Creator and purpose to respond correctly.