Third Promise for Fighting Fear
So not only are we still living in fear of Covid killing us, we have the added reality of living in exhaustion — relationally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. These are combustible pressures on our lives, which if left unattended will explode into breakdown and tragedy.
In my articles on Fear, I have been asking us to consider Paul’s letter to his friends at a church he had started, explaining to them how he had to deal with his own sense of fear and exhaustion.
“We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers” (emphasis mine) 2 Corinthians 1:8-11.
I noted that one night in Corinth, Jesus met Paul in a vision. I don't know how afraid and full of despair he would have been to require Jesus to show up in a vision, but he was that afraid and exhausted. He needed Jesus. And the Lord said to him, “Do not be afraid, keep on speaking, do not be silent…I have many people in this city" (Acts 18:9-10 NIV).
In my first article about fighting fear, we considered dealing with our fear of death, sickness, loss, attacks, job loss, with having faith in promise God is with us — HIS PRESENCE. Living by faith means we live on the specific promise of God that he is Present: “I am with you always.”
In my second article about fighting fear, we also learned to activate faith by the Promise of His Power. I may be powerless, but I rely on God’s power. When fear is blowing hard on my soul, Jesus promised you, “My power is perfected when you are weak with fear. I have the power over death.” So our Fight is by Faith — not a matter of renewed will, but renewed faith. Every Christian deals with this issue. It is central to not listen to the lie, but to believe God & His Gospel. “He Loved me and gave himself for me.” Love is the antidote to Fear.
Now let me add the third reality in fighting fear that Paul told to his church family. We need a renewed Perspective to fight fear.
No matter how difficult it is, how unfair, how overwhelming, we can ask for wisdom to see the way God sees; to see his Perspective or you may say, His plan.
In Paul’s context, as a church planter who may see possibility of failure, Jesus said in effect, “What you don't know is that I have many people in this city…”
What’s remarkable is that Jesus addressed Paul’s fear with “I have a mission that will be fulfilled here, so keep sharing, speaking, and meeting up with people. You are part of my mission to renew all things. This city, my people, my world.”
Paul later would say, “Doesn’t matter then if I get shipwrecked, sit in a prison cell, the plan is still the same." The context may be different, but God wants to engage me as a character in His Story, to renew all things. Even if I am afraid. Paul was part of renewal of all things; things that are still going on today. So, are you.
God rescued you from this dark world, not simply to make you a better person — though he will. Not simply to make into the “wife of a happy husband” or the “husband of a spiritual wife”, etc.
If we become preoccupied with self-improvement like that then Christianity is reduced to another religious system. That isn’t the plan of God for you. That isn’t God’s Perspective of life.
God, in Christ, came to rescue.
The Gospel of Jesus removes us from the self-centeredness of legalism, nationalism, racism, and individualism, and restores us to a family relationship with God and his people. As you involve yourself in mission, Gospel qualities will be developed.
Do you see yourself on mission — to work well, create great products, teach others, produce music, or art — and to discuss Gospel Story with Non-believers and other Believers? Do you consider engaging with classmates (if and when you get back school)?
My friend Kenny, a Church Planter I was coaching, said once, “I am terrified. Most mornings I wake up and I'm scared.”
“Of what?” I asked.
“What if this thing doesn’t work? What if all the work I am doing is delayed? What if there is no fruit? What if no one shows up this week?”
Kenny had lost Perspective. He had no power to make anyone come to faith; no matter how good his preaching, all the coffees, all the networking, all his wife’s hospitality, etc.
“I came to you with fear, much trembling...this may not work out,” Paul feared.
Jesus’ vision/perspective is, “I have people in the city so keep on speaking.” This is a Promised perspective.
I don’t know what this looks like in your context, but I do know you have a context where this will happen; a place where God the Spirit takes action.
How do we build up faith in God, in His promises?
1. Worship, Word & Prayer. Worship realigns our lives back to the One we were made for; His Word makes specific promises to us about areas of our life; Prayer.
2. Rely on Spirit, not self. We turn specifically away from relying on self-efforts.
3. Community of faith. You need others to point you in faith. Remind of Presence and Power and Perspective.
4. Mission. Fear may be constant companion, but you can’t let fear freeze you from engaging. He is engaged in our culture, your neighborhood, job site, career, and family life. Keep a God perspective.
Remember, you don’t have to work through the issues in your life or ministry alone. A Gospel Coach can come along side you and point you to Jesus in the context where God has you every single day.
Click here to learn more about Gospel Coaching today!
excellent reminder Tom! man's adversity is God's opportunity.
Many thanks for a timely, very helpful & practical series on living by Faith in the gospel of Jesus in the midst of our fears especially in our current situation. Need this reminder for myself & those I minister with and minister to especially as a coach.
Thanks Tom for these good words. Most of the church planters I work with are also wondering what is going to happen. I plan on sharing this with them .
Very encouraging message. We are not alone. God is working in our contexts. Thanks for CMM. I benefit from one of your coaches.