Listen to the Full Audio Version Here
Fear is common to us all. In fact, fear is so pervasive that we are told “Do not fear” 365 times in the Bible. “Do not fear” is the most used phrase in the Bible and it’s no coincidence that the 365 times it is mentioned is indicative of the fact that we daily need to remind ourselves of this objective.
As humans, we process information using our senses. What we can see and hear become our reality and inform our brains how we should react. The underlying danger with this reality is that we often rely too heavily on our senses. We forget that there is more to the situation than what meets the eye. And when we rely too much on what we can physically apprehend, we run the risk of letting fear gain ground in our lives.
But I’m here to tell you that what may seem obvious is not always truth. The darkness of our circumstance, regardless of how overwhelming it may feel, does not mean that we are without hope. It doesn’t mean that light does not exist.
To experience light even in the darkness, one must seek truth and find it outside of the realm of our senses. And as dangerous as this may seem, consider the last time you were hungry, or extremely tired, how capable were you of making the best decision in that moment? When we step outside the realm of the physical, we tap into the absolute truth of God and make decisions using the judgement of His Holy Spirit rather than our weak flesh. Even when we’re hungry or tired, if we choose to allow ourselves to be guided by God’s truth, we can choose to be kind, loving, diligent, and faithful.
You might be thinking…doing the right thing and keeping heart when I’m hungry or tired is a piece of cake!...I’m here to tell you that faith can be had even in the most bleak circumstances…even in the face of death, even when your heart feels like it’s being torn in two because of a loss or failed relationship, even when your financial situation seems like it’s never going to be stable, even when you feel like you don’t have the strength to even stand…I speak from experience. Having faith in these moments was hard for me, and I failed at it miserably. But each time my faith failed I was reminded that it was that only thing that would keep me going. It was the only way I could experience light even in the darkness.
Fear is the opponent of our faith. Today, I'd like to share two stories from Matthew 14 that illustrate how we can overcome fear and have faith despite our circumstances, as well as 3 practical ways we can implement the truths from these two accounts in Matthew 14 in our own daily lives.
- John the Baptist dies. (vs.10-12)
- One of Jesus’ relatives and the greatest prophet to have ever lived. (Matthew 11:11)
- In His grief, Jesus isolates Himself in the desert. (vs.13)
- Jesus faces his humanity. Like many of us when we face turmoil and depression, we seek isolation.
- But when the multitudes surround Him, Jesus selflessly is moved with compassion and ministers to their needs before His own. (vs.14)
- What sets Jesus apart is even though He faced His humanity, He was able to overcome the feeling of despair and refocus His attention towards the needs of others. He was able to overcome His circumstance and do good.
- The disciples then dare to tell Jesus what to do by telling Him to send the multitudes away. (vs.15)
- Jesus doesn’t rebuke or yell at them. He simply states the truth and then redirects them to what they should do. He tells the disciples to feed the crowd. (vs. 16)
- The disciples show doubt and make excuses. They tell Jesus it's not possible to feed the crowd because the amount of food they have is not enough to feed the thousands that were present. (vs. 17)
- Jesus again simply tells them what to do. (vs.18)
- Jesus prepares the stage of His miracle. He sets the multitude on the grass, blessed the bread, and break the bread, and then distributes it to His disciples. (vs.19)
- The disciples are the ones that give to the multitudes. What a blessing and experience for them! Jesus can carry out miracles in any way He sees fit, and through any one He wants to use.
- Jesus then sends His disciples away, while He (Jesus) gets rid of the multitude! (vs.22)
- Jesus then goes to pray alone. Jesus seeks God before His next move. (vs.23)
- Jesus then sends His disciples into a storm He knew would test their faith. (vs.24)
- This test of faith came right after they were actively involved in carrying out one of God’s miracles!
- Fear of circumstance is the opponent of complete faith and trust in God. (vs.26, 30)
- We fear the unknown and peril that resides within our circumstances.
- Jesus again shows the miraculous outcomes associated with having faith in Him. (vs. 34-36)
How We Can Overcome Fear of Our Circumstance
1. Act in Faith –
- Just like Peter took that first step out into the unknown.
- What does acting in faith look like for us? It might not mean we physically begin to walk on water, but we can embody that same faith by taking the time to pray, choosing to rely on the Word of God and His truth rather than our feelings, letting ourselves be led by His Word rather than the opinions of the world around us, or praising God with our voice and actions even in the midst of tribulation.
2. Be Willing and Obedient to Do What God Tells You to Do –
- Just like the disciples took the loaves and fishes from Jesus and distributed them. The disciples questioned Jesus. They even dared to tell Jesus what to do! But after Jesus redirected them, they were faithful and obedient in carrying out His will…and as a result, thousands were blessed! When we choose to obey God rather than the instinctual reaction to our fear, we rise above the physical circumstance and into the realm of God’s infinite blessing. We open up the door for miracles! We allow God to do what only He can do, and I promise you, He will!
3. Keep Your Gaze on Jesus –
- As soon as Peter noticed the wind, fear crept in. It was when he removed His gaze from Jesus that he began to sink. When we focus on what we see and hear more than we do on Jesus, we begin to give our flesh control. This is when fear begins to take hold and permeate throughout our thoughts and even into our body. We feel our heart rate speed up, we begin to lose our breath, and our thoughts become a racecar going 800 miles an hour without a driver behind the steering wheel. Don’t give fear control. Rather, talk to Jesus. Verbally express to Him your fears and doubts. Pour out your heart to Him and give Him control over your next thought, word, and action. Let Him guide you towards the light of resolution. This is something that you will need to do over and over and over again. It’s not easy. But as your give Him room to work, you will find yourself reaching out to Him in the darkness as your first response. Once you let Him work and see what He can do, you will desire His truth and His will each and every time.
A Prayer for Faith
Lord, help my faith in your presence be stronger than the experience of my circumstance. Please help my trust in You be greater than the reasoning of my doubts. I don’t have to know why or how; I just need to know that You ARE and You WILL.