I still remember those mornings laying in bed, paralyzed with fear, staring at the creaks coming from the ceiling over my head. We’d just purchased a 30-year-old home in the country, and my husband left for work by five each morning. The attic creaks had me “convinced” (though I would regularly rationalize myself back into reality) that a homeless man had taken up residence in our attic, and meant us harm. (Maybe a similar plot line I’d seen on CSI helped convince me, too… ugh!)
That fear was irrational, and fueled by fixing my mind on something fearful (the TV show).
But not all fears are irrational. Sometimes they “make sense” to our human brains. There are fears that many would say are “natural” for us to feel. But, “God has not given us a spirit of fear.”
Instead, we are called to have faith… so what is it that moves us from fear to faith?
This morning, I read through the Hebrews 11 chapter, sometimes called “The Hall of Faith.”
It begins with, “Faith is…”
The whole thing starts with the definition: “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
What I noticed on this read-through was the thing that moved each one of them toward God.
It wasn’t that these men and women didn’t face truly fearful things:
- A coming deluge that would wipe out the world
- The death of your only son
- Having a baby at 91 years old (I mean, put down your Bible knowledge & actually THINK about that. Have you ever seen a ninety-one year old woman? Now imagine it– A BABY… at NINETY-ONE years old. Labor… at NINETY-ONE years old. That is terrifying.)
- Giving up riches and power for identity with a hated, enslaved people
- Your back against the sea, and a fearsome army on your heels
- The city and civilization you love and know falling down around you
They faced really fearful things.
But yet… they were commended for their faith. (In fact, in 1 Peter, we are told that we are Sarah’s daughters if we, “do not fear anything that is frightening.”)
How did they do it?
We’re given glimpses of it throughout the chapter:
- “By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark…”
- “[Abraham] went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise… For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.”
- “By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered Him faithful who had promised.”
- “By faith Abraham… offered up Isaac… He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead.”
- “By faith Moses refused to be called the son of Pharoah’s daughter… He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.“
And then the author of Hebrews brings it home for us:
“Therefore, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)
We will stop operating in fear, and move into faith, when we set our eyes and fix our hearts on future joy in God.
It’s a matter of where we’re looking.
If we are laying in bed with our eyes fixed on the ceiling… a cancer diagnosis… a broken relationship… our lives in rubble around us, our throat constricts and fear rises. If we’re looking to the immovable, dependable God who saves… the One who makes beauty from ashes… who offers eternal reconciliation and peace… who has built a future city where joy will be ours, we can, like Christ, “endure” the crosses put in our path, “for the joy” set before us.
When you look at the events of your life, especially those things that threaten to drown you in a sea of fear, where are you looking?
Are you looking at the frightening thing, or are your eyes (and is your heart) fixed on the joy-giving God who is bigger than anything that is frightening?