I’ve heard some state that fear is the opposite of faith. If you are afraid of something, then you don’t have faith, or your faith is weak.
I propose that learning how to overcome fear is part of having faith.
Why did God tell Joshua to be strong and courageous after Moses died? Joshua just inherited the leadership position of one of the greatest leaders in history! God said do NOT be terrified; do NOT be discouraged. Joshua must have been freakin!
Faith is not fearlessness.
Faith is not brash, overconfident, recklessness.
Faith is not looking the other way from danger…
…nor is it looking danger in the eye and laughing.
Faith is not bravery.
We may look at heroes of faith and describe their character as fearless, brave, and confident. When Adoniram Judson set off for Burma in 1812 with his young wife as the first American missionaries, he was described as brave, even foolish. In the one hundred fourteen days it took for him to reach India, then Burma, by sea; as he and his wife lost their first and second child to disease; as he faced the reality of slaughter by a hostile Burmese king; Adoniram was not fearless. Yet he did not turn back from his calling as a missionary and conviction to reach the Burmese with the gospel of Christ. His lifetime work of translating the Bible from the original Hebrew to Burmese is still the translation available in Burma (Myanmar) today.
Faith is not the absence of fear. Rather, faith is absolute confidence in the character of God. Faith is action based on certainty without physical evidence. Faith is overcoming fear of man, fear of death, fear of pain, fear of failure, fear of abandonment, fear of poverty…forsaking it for fear of God. Holy, Empowering, Obedient fear of God.
It is possible to grow in faith. If God tested Abraham, why shouldn’t he test us? He allowed Abraham to face his worst fear…losing his only son and failing to realize the promise of God to build a great nation.
Faith manifests itself in obedience, in spite of fear.
In September 2001, my husband and I were planning an overseas mission trip through Asia with a group of young adults. Then came the infamous September 11th attack on the Twin Towers and America was shaken to the core. Many people called for us to cancel our trip. How could we possibly risk flying on an airplane after what just happened?
But the righteous will live by faith.
A pastor we know well often speaks of moving his young family to a village in the Hindu kingdom of Nepal, deep in the mountains, accessible only by several days’ walk on a narrow trail. There they lived, surrounded by witch doctors. Hearing the chants at nighttime, he faced a crisis of faith: Is God really who he says he is, and is he able to protect me and my family out in the villages of Nepal? Is he really All-Powerful, able to protect me from evil?
Faith is confidence in the Most High God.
No matter where you go.
When my husband left for a weekend trip and left me on my own in South Africa, where crime is a prominent issue, I had to face my fears. The first couple nights I double and triple checked the locks on the doors and woke up to every rattle and shake of the wind gusting against the windows. The enemy made use of night time to amplify my fears. The next night, however, I strengthened myself in the Lord and declared Psalm 91 over my house and family.
Then, God spoke to me at church the next morning, in my insecurity, and delivered me of my fear through this word: