Fear is everywhere. As I listen to Christians talk, fear comes up over and over again. We fear the collapse of the economy and the loss of our financial ease. We fear the wrong party winning the election. We fear Isis or Muslims in general. We fear the loss of our Christian liberties and social ostracization. We fear change. We fear being contaminated by the world. Some fear being lead astray by bad teachers. Fear, fear, fear. Yet fear is so unbecoming on a Christian.
In the Robert Murray McChene Bible reading plan this morning we read Joshua 1. Those familiar with this text know that God repeatedly exhorts Joshua to be strong and courageous as he leads the people in the conquest of Canaan. Yet as I read this text, I was struck by the source of his strength and courage. It was because God promised to be with him.
Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you (vs. 5).
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go (vs. 9).
By the world’s thinking, Joshua should have been afraid. He was leading an inferior people into battle against fortified cities and experienced armies. He could die on the battle field. Yet he was not to fear because the God who had destroyed Egypt and lead Israel in the wilderness for 40 years was promising to be with him. His presence guaranteed their success.
I believe all the fear that is circulating in our culture and in our churches is sinful. Fear is not one of the fruit of the Spirit. If God is for us, then who can be against us? The same God who was with Moses and Joshua has promised to never leave us or forsake us. Why are we so scared? I think it is because we have placed our hope on the wrong things. This world is not our home, and our hope does not rest on the things around us. Our hope is in the Lord. If that is the case, then we can say with the Psalmist “The Lord is for me; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” The answer is NOTHING!
Yes, life can be challenging and hard. I do not want to make light of people’s concerns. Yet if the eternal God of the universe is the sovereign God He claims to be, then I have no need to fear. He will bring me safely home to my eternal reward.
Consider the exhortation of the hymn Be Strong in the Lord:
Be strong in the Lord, and be of good courage; Your mighty defender is always the same. Mount up with wings as the eagle ascending; Vict’ry is sure when you call on His name
So put on the armor the Lord has provided, And place your defense in His unfailing care. Trust Him for He will be with you in battle, Lighting your path to avoid every snare
Be strong in the Lord, and be of good courage; Your mighty Commander will vanquish the foe. Fear not the battle for the vict’ry is always His; He will protect you ever you go.
Be strong, be strong, be strong in the Lord; And be of good courage, for He is your guide; Be strong, be strong, be strong in the Lord; And rejoice for the victory is yours.
We can trust our God.
Therefore, be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7