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It’s amazing how encouraging and comforting hearing the phrase “me too” can be.
I’ve had the opportunity to say “me too” many times over the past year as friends have told me of their fear, weariness and discouragement concerning their work, their calling and their future.
I use to think that the fear and discouragement I was feeling was more particular to me because of the way I’ve done things over the years and my lack of faith. Now I’m realizing how prevalent this really is.
Jesus, knowing the story we would be brought into said, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled and don’t be afraid.” (John 14:27) Or, as the Amplified Bible translates it, “Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and don’t permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly.”
Whoops, that’s exactly what I’ve allowed my heart to be many times – disturbed and cowardly. There is ample reason for us to feel this way with everything so unstable, unpredictable and unreliable…and that’s exactly why Jesus said this.
But, there is something more profound, more core to our troubled and fearful heart than our circumstances.
Paul Miller wrote in A Praying Life, “Increasingly, we are returning to the world of pre-Christian paganism, where evil seemingly has the loudest voice and the last word…Our modern, secular world has removed the Good Shepherd from Psalm 23…We are left obsessing over our wants in the valley of the shadow of death, paralyzed by fear in the presence of our enemies…Weariness and fear leave us feeling overwhelmed, unable to move.”
Our culture has made ingenuity (mankind’s ability to be perceptive, brilliant and innovative) the good shepherd. And while this is an aspect of the glory of God that He deposited into His creation, it give us very little comfort or assurance. The beginning of Psalm 23 might sound something like this:
“Because of my and mankind’s ingenuity, I lack nothing, my soul is refreshed and I am guided to the right paths. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil and am comforted.”
Wow, with this cultural belief hovering around our heart, no wonder we feel troubled and fearful about the present and future.
In addition to this cultural belief or trust system that we live in, there is a “spirit of fear” that visits us all. It’s that paralyzing fear that overtakes us in a moment with no immediate justifiable reality confronting us. In an instant, we have become a retreating coward.
Walter Scott said, “To the timid and hesitating everything is impossible because it seems so.”
Scripture say, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7
Of the three characteristics of God’s spirit, “power” is the ability to accomplish what God wants, “love” is the focus of and end result of power, and “self-discipline” is sound judgment to know how to combine power with love in a time of crisis.
We can do this…we can live this way. We must – other’s need to see our genuine courage and faith in order to hold on to theirs.
We must hold on to the real, living Good Shepard. We must stand against a spirit of fear. We must stand with others, for courage is most vulnerable when it is isolated. We must tackle each moment with the truth that God knows the plans He has for us, plans to prosper and not to harm, plans to give us hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11); that God works in all things for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Rom. 8:28); and that Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33).
Let us stand together in the admonition of Paul, “Do not become discouraged (utterly spiritless, exhausted, and wearied out through fear). 2 Cor. 4:16 (Amplified Bible)