All of us have fears in our lives. For some, we deal with fear better than others. For some, fear overwhelms us and causes to shrink back. Personally, I fear many things, health issues, my wife’s health, familial loss, fire, some animals, violence, politics, failure, and more.
Some things we fear are good. We should fear being burned by the fire…it keeps us from putting our hands in it. Fear is a preserving emotion in many cases, and that is why the Lord gave us this emotion. It is protective. But for some, fear can keep us from moving forward, because we fear the “what if?” questions.
What if I fail?
What if I get hurt?
What if go broke?
What if I experience pain?
What if I hurt someone else?
What if I do something sinful?
Fear can keep us from receiving blessings planned for us. Fear can keep us from trusting in the promises of God…mainly that He has a future for us, not to harm, but to prosper, and that He is with us through all the ups and downs of life.
I am reminded of the Israelites in the Old Testament book, Numbers. Numbers 13 tells us right off the bat, “The Lord spoke to Moses saying, “Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the people of Israel.”
So, Moses sends out 12 men, one from each of the 12 tribes of Israel. It’s a forty-day adventure for these men. They are told to take stock of the condition of the land, the protection, and the fruits available in the land. Verse 20 pretty much says, “whatever the condition, don’t fear, just bring back some of its fruit.” (It technically says, “Be of good courage.”
These men went and watched, and even took some of the fruit of the land to being back with them. But, while there, they also noticed the men of the land were like giants, and the defenses are strong, along with all the different people living in the valleys and hill country there…all enemies of Israel. So they reported these things to Moses and the other leaders.
In short, these men returned with a warning of fear. One that told the rest of the Israelites, “The people are too big and too strong for us, so we shouldn’t go.” And in the next chapter we see where God punishes them for the faithlessness…really their rebellion…and most of them end up dying in the desert never to see the land for themselves again.
If you’re not familiar with the story, this was not too long after God had freed the Israelites from Egyptian slavery and they crossed the Red Sea miraculously by God’s power. He’d already protected them along the way, provided manna (bread from heaven), and lead them on their journey in a pillar of fire and smoke. They had witnessed, with no doubt, the fact that God was with them.
Canaan was the Promised Land. It was the land given to Abraham, whom the Israelites descended from, years prior. This was the goal of the journey they were on. But for fear, they did not receive it.
God had promised “I am giving you the land of Canaan,” before sending the spies. It didn’t matter what was in the land, or who was in the land. God had already said, “I am giving you this land.” The land was theirs! The blessings of the land was theirs!
But fear kept them from obtaining God’s promise. They feared for their lives. They feared harm. They feared failure. Their fear even made them cry and desire to go back to where “it was safe,”…as Egyptian slaves! They desired to trade the safety of living under God’s care, and His promises, for the life of slavery again. Fear enslaves!
What if they had believed God? How would their lives have been different? Who else would have been blessed?
Because of their disbelief, a whole generation perished in the desert, where they continued to basically walk circles for 40 more years.
How many of us are “walking circles” because we didn’t believe the Lord’s promises? I’m sure, like me, you can probably look back on life and say, “if only I had done…trusted…had courage to…” Where would our lives have been? What blessings did we give up because we feared?
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10 NIV
Here’s the thing, look back over your life. How have you seen God work time and time again? He has proved faithful right? If you’re reading this, I’m pretty sure that is proof enough of His presence with you. Remember what He has done, what He has brought you through, and then make a stand today on His promises.
One warning…don’t try to go back and do what He told you to do before. That was a folly of the Israelites too. Once He had pronounced His judgement, THEN they tried to go and take the land without His blessing. And…they were easily defeated.
Seek and listen now to what He wants you to do now. What is He promising you? When you hear it, when you see it, stop walking in the circle of fear and GO. If it is a promise from God, there are no giants big enough to stop you!