Faith in the Presence of Danger
Fear is defined as “an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.” Most often we fear situations that are far from life-or-death, and thus, we hang back for no good reason.
Are you paralyzed by fear? Perhaps you’re hesitant to act in faith because the math just doesn’t add up and you’re afraid of losing something you’ve worked really hard for?
Maybe fear doesn’t paralyze you. Rather, you find yourself like King Saul (I Samuel 13), activated by fear and you keep yourself busy because you know that when you fail to act, fear overcomes you.
Nehemiah was a man of intense and proven faith. He understood what it was like to be overcome with fear (Nehemiah 2:2). He could sympathize with the fears of the people he led in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, who in the face of physical destruction and war confessed to him, “the strength of the burden bearers is failing, yet there is much rubbish and we ourselves are unable to rebuild the wall” (Neh. 4:10).
When he saw the fear of the people, he shared his faith, publicly urging the people not to be afraid. He was there with them in the moment, equipping them, encouraging them, leading them to go farther with the Lord than they thought they were capable of going. In Nehemiah 4:14 he recounted this moment writing, “When I saw their fear, I rose and spoke to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people: “Do not be afraid of them; remember the Lord who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives and your houses.”
Remember the Lord
He believed that fear is conquered by reflecting on the sufficiency of God: Remember the Lord he encouraged the Israelites. Isn’t it shocking that in the midst of such incredible conflict and crisis that the people would need to be encouraged to remember the Lord? Their environment was changing, the work made more difficult, and the enemy more active. Nehemiah’s reminder was simple, the Lord was exactly the same. We too need to be reminded that when trouble comes, Scripture’s great realities can be temporarily displaced by anxious thoughts. We as believers often need that timely reminder.
We are not just to casually think about God, and in remembrance of His existence cast off fear, Nehemiah encourages us to focus on two very specific attributes of the Living God.
- The first attribute we are to remember is God’s Greatness
- The second attribute we are to remember when we are afraid is God’s Awesomeness
In a sermon on Psalm 86 John Piper said “God’s greatness makes him stronger than all the gods of the universe and God’s greatness makes him stronger than all the nations of the world. He rules the gods and he rules the nations, FOR he is great and does wondrous things; he alone is God. God over all gods and God over all nations.”
It is in the power of God’s Spirit that we overcome fear, doubt, and worry. It is by the power of God’s Spirit that we serve, and it’s the testimony of God working in our lives that helps us to stand when we need to.
The Goodness of God Overcomes Our Fear
Moments of physical, mental, and spiritual anguish offer an incredible temptation to doubt the Lord’s goodness and fear He doesn’t care about our situation. Consider the nation of Israel after God delivered them from Egyptian bondage. It wasn’t disbelief in God’s existence that got them into trouble. What fueled God’s anger and wrought His judgement was when they doubted His goodness and grumbled against Him in fear. Don’t we have the same propensity?
It is in fellowship with Christ and His Church that we learn to think rightly about the situations before us and apply Biblical truth. Over the course of our lives, suffering, adversity, and triumph teach us dependence upon God in Christ. In the end, God reveals that though our mind breaks, “Greater is He who is in you than He who is in the world.”
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Dennis Call joined the Army as an infantry officer shortly after the 9/11 attacks on our country, serving fourteen years on active duty. During his Army service, Dennis deployed for thirty-three months to Iraq and Afghanistan in support of the Global War on Terror. Prior to joining the Army Dennis served as the Director of College Ministries at First Baptist Church in Texico, N.M. where he mentored students at Eastern New Mexico University in Portales, N.M. Dennis and his amazing wife Katie live in Colorado Springs, CO with their five children (four boys and one super sweet daughter).