So. Much. Fear.
Fear that feels like a heart pounding too fast, stomach dropping to the ground, insides turning to jelly, or a sharp pain.
Fear that looks like a furrowed brow, shaking hands, trembling knees, or dead eyes.
I see so much fear all around me. It’s crackling in the air everywhere I go. Judging by the looks around me, you see and feel fear as well.
We feel the sensation of fear when we:
- watch prices rise and question what changes we should make.
- hear of bombs and war in other countries and wonder how long before the conflict reaches our soil or touches us more personally.
- see men and women beside us in line with worry visible in their eyes and etched on their face.
- hold children who don’t know to be afraid.
- watch mothers and fathers, grandparents and grandchildren hugging each other a little extra tightly.
- don’t know what the future holds, but our gut tells us that future does not look like we expected or hoped.
I can’t control the changes that scare me or events around the world. But I know and talk to the One who does.
The Old Testament tells us of a whole nation of people who were afraid and the one man who remembered God was in control. I Samuel 17 tells of the Philistines and Israelites, camped on mountains on either side of a valley. A giant of a man named Goliath, described as a champion with vast armor and a mighty spear, heckled the Israelites, asking for a man of Israel to fight him to settle the outcome of the battle. Verse 11 reads “When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.” (ESV)
Along came David, the youngest of eight sons. While his older brothers were at the battle site, David went back and forth to feed his father’s sheep. When his father sent David with food to check on his brothers, David heard the shouts of Goliath the Philistine. David watched the people allow Goliath to taunt them and their God while they ran in fear. He asked who the man was who would defy the armies of the living God and what would be done for the man who killed him.
When David asked these questions, he was mocked by his brother, who angrily accused him of neglecting his duties. David’s brother thought the worst of him, telling David his motives and heart were evil. David turned from his brother and continued to show his earnest faith, still questioning and expressing disbelief that a man would think he could stand a chance against the people helped by God.
When word made it to Saul, the king of Israel, Saul sent for David. David volunteered to go fight the Philistine. When told he was too young to fight, David trusted God. He told Saul the Lord had saved him before and would continue to deliver him. David was offered the armor of Saul but rejected it and fought in only the armor of God.
When David approached Goliath, the giant “disdained him”, taunted him, and cursed him. David was not deterred. He responded: “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.” (I Samuel 17:45). “For the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hand.” (I Sam 17:47b).
Most of us know how the story ends. David ran toward Goliath and dropped the giant with a single stone to the forehead, then killed him with his sword, all the while giving God the glory. Was he afraid? I’m guessing yes. How could he not be? But he knew who was in control. The battle was not his, but the Lord’s.
So, when I’m afraid, what can I do? How can I defeat the giants of fear, anxiety, temptation, and difficulty in my life? I don’t have a literal battle, but there are spiritual and practical tasks that can help me overcome.
I can whisper to myself the words stored in my heart. “When I am afraid, I put my trust in You.” (Psalms 56:3)
I can go outside, run, walk, or play, and notice creation proceeding, remembering God’s care for His creation includes me. (Matthew 6:25-34)
I can kindly and lovingly overlook words or actions that discourage my faith or malign my motives, continuing to search for those who encourage me to make God bigger than any circumstance. (I Thessalonians 5:11)
I can put on the armor of God, while remembering who the real enemy is. (Ephesians 6:10- 18)
I can focus on helping those in need. No matter my troubles or fear, there is always someone who needs something I can provide, even if that is just encouragement, teaching or reminder of a better way, a kind word, or a simple gesture. (Galatians 6:1-2)
I can pray and give thanks. I have access to communicate with the Creator of the universe and King of Kings, the God who sees and knows all. (I Thessalonians 5:16-18)
I can trust God and His will, even when I don’t understand. (Isaiah 26:3-4)
Then I can rest, knowing the Lord who controls all nations and holds the universe in His mighty hands is winning the war and in control. So I don’t have to be.