How to Avoid Fearfulness
‘If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all’ (Isaiah 7:9b)
To avoid fearfulness, we need faith – not faith in anything, but faith in a rock that can give firmness to our soul. But what is faith? And how do we know if the object of our faith is sufficient to support the weight of our trust?
1 – Faith Is the Child of Fear
It may seem odd to connect faith and fear, but the two are as closely connected as a father and a son. The fact is everyone fears something. There is some force at work in history, or in the universe, that is above and beyond all other powers. For some, this force is ‘chance’, for others, ‘politics’, for others, ‘death’, and for others, ‘mankind’, for others, God. What everyone has in common is faith that someone – or something – is sovereign over and above everything else.
This source of fear automatically becomes an object of faith. How could it be otherwise? Once a single sovereign is recognized as sitting on a throne, we only have one option: bow down and worship. To ignore such majesty is to court disaster.
Part of the beauty of the Christian faith is that our highest object of fear is not just a source of dread, but equally of love and admiration. Yes, the Living God is awesome in power and might. Yet, He is also merciful, just, faithful, and incomparably good. This means that love and fear unite in Christian worship in a manner that is unique and unparalleled in both traditional and secular religions.
2 – Faith Is the Father of Hope
Human beings naturally fear the future for one main reason: no matter how hard we try, we can’t control the future. In spite of all of our statistics, strategies, and defense mechanisms, the future is like Mars. It’s a realm that exceeds our ability to tame and colonize.
But this is where faith reenters the human experience. All of us look to our highest source of fear as our deepest source of hope. We need a ‘god’ in order to make good out of evil – someone who can give beauty for ashes and a garment of praise for a spirit of heaviness (Isaiah 61).
The wonder of the God of the Bible is that He reveals himself to be the very God that we are so desperately searching for. Consistently, He promises us that, if we will just turn to Him, He will give us a future of love and joy that will eclipse any suffering we may have experienced. He alone says to us, ‘For I know the plans I have for you, plans for welfare and not for evil to give you a future and a hope’ (Jeremiah 23:11). And to have such hope, all we need to do is turn from our self-centered pride and to seek Him with all of our heart.
3 – Faith Is the Companion of Faithfulness
Faith is only as good as the ground on which it stands. If we misplace our trust, we will one day discover that our source of confidence is a source of shame. But equally, our faith is only as firm as the amount of weight that we are willing to put on the ground of our trust. A lot of Christians live in fearfulness because they are only willing to put half of their weight on the promises of God. Their instability is not due to any deficiency in God, but a spiritual reluctance to place absolute trust in Him. The only way to avoid such teetering faith is to plant both of our feet solidly on the rock of divine faithfulness. The words of Isaiah are as true today as they were nearly three thousand years ago when he first wrote them: ‘If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all.’
To hear the full message, watch the sermon: https://youtu.be/x9pN4A5jllc