Summary: How do we allow God to help us overcome our fears?
What are you afraid of? Spiders? Stink bugs? Snakes? Are you afraid of failure? Of losing someone that you love? Of dying before you get a chance to experience a milestone like seeing your kids get married? Are you afraid of being hurt by others or of hurting someone else? Here is a biggie - Are you afraid that you might do something to cause God to turn His back on you? Of being disobedient to Him and suffering some consequences?
How do we overcome these fears? I guess the better question is – how do we allow God to help us overcome these fears? Fears that keep us from taking chances on God’s behalf, fears that keep us bottled up inside ourselves, fears that keep us from living the best life that God has planned for us every day?
I believe the answer lies in realizing that God knows our end from our beginning. Isaiah 46:10 tells us this – “I declare the end from the beginning, and from long ago what is not yet done, saying: My plan will take place, and I will do all My will.” And Psalm 121:7 says, “The LORD keeps you from all harm and watches over your life.”
There you have it. No need to be afraid. Sermon’s over. Have a great day. Seriously, sometimes I feel like doing that – uncovering a problem, quoting the verse, and expecting that everybody will be happy with that and will take the Bible at face value and just live it out. But life isn’t like that – we need more proof!
Turn with me if you will to Joshua 1:1 – Joshua was Moses’ successor. At the end of the book of Deuteronomy, the book right before Joshua in the Old Testament, we learn that “Joshua son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him. So the people of Israel obeyed him, doing just as the Lord had commanded Moses.”
Now here we learn of the Lord’s charge to Joshua…
After the death of Moses the LORD’s servant, the LORD spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant. He said, 2 “Moses my servant is dead. Therefore, the time has come for you to lead these people, the Israelites, across the Jordan River into the land I am giving them. 3 I promise you what I promised Moses: ‘Wherever you set foot, you will be on land I have given you— 4 from the Negev wilderness in the south to the Lebanon mountains in the north, from the Euphrates River in the east to the Mediterranean Sea[a] in the west, including all the land of the Hittites.’ 5 No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you.
6 “Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. 7 Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. 8 Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. 9 This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.’
‘Joshua then commanded the officers of Israel, Go through the camp and tell the people to get their provisions ready. In three days, you will cross the Jordan River and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you.”
There is a lot of information in this passage, but there is one thing I don’t see. I don’t see anywhere that it says that Joshua was afraid. Nowhere do we read Joshua praying to God to help him ease his fears, saying that he is terrified, or hesitating to follow God because he is afraid to do what God called him to do.
But three times God tells Joshua to “be strong and courageous.” Why would he say this if Joshua never even said he was afraid? I mean, Joshua was no wimp! He had gone out as a spy when Moses sent him, seeing fortified cities and giants. He was a fierce warrior who lived for 40 years in the desert after the Exodus from Egypt. He was one of only 2 men who were willing to fight the giants and believed that they could conquer them. So why would God tell him three times to be brave?