Do you think that fear is the lack of courage or is courage the lack of fear? I have always heard, and agree, that courage is when we overcome our fear.
Fear is an instinct, it is designed to help us survive, but when we let our fear rule us that is when we have lost ourselves to the enemy.
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The enemy of God uses fear: fear of loss is the strongest of all fears, but there is also fear of pain, fear of death, fear of loneliness, fear of success, and there is even fear of being afraid. When your fears are controlling you, they are called phobias.
Courage is how we overcome the basic and instinctive fears that we have. There are different ways that people can find courage, and I believe the best way is through faith in God.
Humans want to be in control of themselves and what happens in their life, and I think when people don’t believe in God or believe he exists but they don’t think it is important to follow his instructions, they believe that way because they don’t want to cede control to him. They fear losing control and that fear is why they have no faith.
I also know people who say they believe in God and are faithful but go through life afraid of everything. They won’t drive on the highway, they won’t take a plane ride, and they won’t try to improve their condition or even try to do something different. These people are afraid of living.
And yet, they believe they are in control. Oy!
The Bible is rife with verses that should encourage us, meaning to literally put courage into us. Verses such as these:
Psalm 32:8…I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
Romans 8:31…What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
Joshua 1:9…Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.
Psalm 23:4…Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Psalm 27:1…The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?
And this is just a small sampling.
To place our faith in God means, more than anything else, to accept his sovereignty and to trust him to always take care of us. That doesn’t mean we will never have tsouris in our lives: we need to have trials and tribulations because gold is only made pure after going through the fire. We can be anxious and even afraid of the suffering, but we must not be ruled by that fear. Again, fear is normal and we cannot help but feel it. That doesn’t mean we should be afraid of the fear or allow it to rule us: we gain the courage to overcome and control our fear through our through faith in God, knowing that even as we suffer he is working towards reducing or relieving that suffering.
Suffering, loss, and emotional trauma can, and often does, overwhelm people; we can find the strength to survive from our steadfast knowledge and faith in God, believing absolutely that he is always there to prevent our destruction.
Faith is not something that God will give us, and the kind of faith that comes from some miraculous event is fleeting, and (I believe) dangerous because a faith that is the result of a miracle is a faith that could be turned to Satan, who is capable of performing miracles. In fact, aren’t we told in Revelation that the prophets of Satan will perform many miracles and that many will be turned from the true faith?
Faith is a choice; it is a conscious decision to believe. It isn’t something we can see or feel (Hebrews 11:1), and our faith is strengthened when we follow the instructions God gave us in the Torah (James 2:14.)
When we choose to cede control of our lives to God and faithfully trust God to always take care of us, no matter what, we can be confident and encouraged because, well… who can beat up God?
(I just thought about something: when I said to “faithfully trust”, that’s actually redundant, isn’t it?)
Too many people today put their faith in technology or in someone in politics, or even in a sports figure or a newspaper. They trust quickly in what they hear and what they see, not thinking for a moment how easily those senses can be fooled.
Trust in God, choose to believe in what you will (probably) never see in this lifetime, and stick to that faith no matter what anyone else tells you. When you trust in God and demonstrate that trust through following his instructions, you will be given confirmation that your faith is well-founded.
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Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!