Fear and discouragement are two straitjacket emotions. Remember when Moses sent the spies into Canaan? Fear often paralyzes us at the very moment we should be taking the kingdom of heaven by storm. Instead, we see giants in the land or we fall prey to self-pity while rehearsing over and over again all the reasons we should feel sorry for ourselves. I can remember as a young child standing in front of a mirror while crying in order to keep the pity party going. Sob, sob, whine, sob, sob, whine and on and on it went. I shard this with a friend recently who informed me that his little brother did the very same thing—just more proof that foolishness truly is bound up in the heart of child. Sadly, childhood can sometimes extend a long shadow right into adulthood, only with a veneer of sophistication.
If I’m honest with myself and God, when I’m fearful or discouraged I soon see that there’s something I’m not believing that I should be believing. I need to preach the truth to myself and I need to believe it. Truth effects emotions. If I struggle to believe the truth, then I need to pray all the more that God would increase my faith and fill my heart with joy in believing His word. Since faith comes by hearing, I need to meditate on truth.
God knows our weakness. In His kindness He has given us so many precious promises following the words, “Fear not.” For example, Isaiah 41:10 says, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Here, “fear not” is followed by His promise to be with me, His promise to be my God, His promise to strengthen me, His promise to help me, and His promise to uphold me.
Another verse I love is Joshua 1:9. This is a verse my students in Sunday School and Vacation Bible School have both memorized and sung. “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” This verse is very precious to me as I think about moving to Prague. I need to know that God is going to be with me wherever I go in this world. When God gives us a command, He often supports that command with divine promises. The key to overcoming fear and discouragement is to believe God’s promises (all of God’s promises are ours in Christ), and to take it one step further, to believe God!
The Psalmist writes, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?” As we face fear and discouragement, it’s helpful to remember that these are trials. God has promised us His all-sufficient grace for every trial that comes our way. They are just more opportunities to see the power of Christ rest upon us in our weakness.