People often say that fear is the opposite of faith, but I respectfully disagree. The way I see it, fear actually relies on faith — it’s simply faith in the wrong things.
Fear is placing your faith in “what-ifs” rather than in “God is.”
It’s allowing your imagination to wander down a long dark alley of possibilities and get mugged every couple of steps. Almost everyone who allows themselves to be taken hostage by what-ifs discovers that the only thing binding them is their own imagination.
You know who really wrestled with this? Moses. In the Old Testament, when God first appeared to Moses, calling on him to deliver the Hebrew people out of slavery to the Egyptians, He chose to do so by talking from a burning bush. Now, that would probably get most people’s attention. And yet, following this encounter, we see Moses immediately start playing the what-if game with God.
In Exodus 3, God reveals to Moses His entire plan and Moses’ role in it, even assuring Moses that God Himself will be with him. Then, in the very next chapter, in Exodus 4:1, Moses responds by answering God, “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’?” This is the same game most of us play, especially when God calls us because He wants to use our lives to do something significant.
Rather than considering that God knows what He’s doing and trusting Him, we immediately roll out a long list of what-ifs. “Sounds good, Lord, but what if I can’t do it? What if the economy drops? What if I lose my job? What if I get sick? What if my spouse cheats on me? What if my kids get hurt? What if we get in a car accident? What if I never get married? What if I do get married, but it’s to a jerk? What if we can’t have kids? What if we have too many kids? What if our cat gets pregnant… again?” There are just so many bad things that could happen in life. It seems like we spend a huge amount of time brainstorming a list of everything that could go wrong, instead of better using that same energy to ask God for steps we could take that will help us meaningfully get in on what He’s doing.
Your what-ifs do matter, though. In fact, if you stop and analyze them, you can usually gain some vital insight. The first is that what you fear reveals what you value the most.
Examining what you fear can illuminate your priorities, which are always good to know.
For example, if you fear losing your marriage, that shows that you really value your commitment to your marriage. If you fear that something bad may happen to your children, that shows that you really value your kids. If you fear losing your job or losing your money, you value financial security and stability. While none of these are inherently bad things to place value on, focusing negatively on any of them can lead you down a poison path to worry rather than leading you to positive action.
When you have persistent fear in a given area of your life, it can be an indicator that you’re not depending on God to handle it.
In other words, what you fear reveals where you trust God the least.
And this usually means that you’re not asking Him for direction in that area, either. Let’s say that you’re constantly worried about your marriage. Have you asked God to make your marriage better — and then trusted Him to actually do it? If you pray, but then you keep worrying about it, your actions are communicating, “Sure, I prayed, but that’s not enough. I don’t need God to intervene on this one as much as He needs me to.”
Or if you worry that something bad might happen to your children, you’re essentially telling God, “I don’t really believe You’re good enough. I don’t believe that Your plan and Your purposes will come through for my children. So for my part, I’m going to contribute by worrying.” If you’re constantly worrying about financial stability, then your actions are saying, “God, I don’t really trust You to provide for me.”
In fact, in Matthew 6:27, Jesus makes it clear how much good all our angst does us:
Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
Obviously, the answer is no. So why do we do it? Because we’re afraid to trust God with every area and every hour of our lives. Because anticipating the worst allows us to believe we have some semblance of control; we won’t be surprised when something terrible happens because we’ve already imagined it and prepared ourselves.
So how do we find our way out?
I believe we have to face our greatest fears in order to reach our greatest potential. And the only way to do this is to allow God to lead you.
If you’re struggling to trust God in some area of your life, I believe you must first identify what you’re afraid of. You can’t know where to start to address it if you’re still pretending it doesn’t exist. So admit it. Identify it clearly. Until you do, it will continue to be that elephant in the room, that huge dark cloud hovering over you that you’re not willing to talk about. So do some name calling. Check the label and see the brand of fear you’re wearing.
Once you identify it, then you can surrender it to God. You can commit to trust Him to give you the power to overcome your fear once and for all. Let me clarify this. I’m not saying to just “give it over to God,” and then pretend like it’s not a problem anymore. No, what I’m saying is that you must allow God to give you strength, wisdom, and courage in defeating your fear once and for all.
Excerpted with permission from Soul Detox by Craig Groeschel, copyright Zondervan, 2012.
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Meditate on this statement for a moment: Fear is placing your faith in “what-ifs” rather than in “God is.” Are you putting your faith in the what-ifs? Are you laden with worries, anxieties, and fears even though God has promised for fight for you (Exodus 14:14) and Jesus has promised to be with you (Matthew 28:20) and uphold you with His righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10)? Identify your fears with the Lord and surrender them to Him! Come join the conversation on our blog! We would love to hear from you about placing your faith in “God is”! ~ Devotionals Daily