Fear Vs Faith
Fear and faith are two sides of a coin, one in light and the other in darkness but we have the choice to keep whichever side we want to keep up and once we do that very side dominates and guides us.

Fear Vs Faith

         When two or more people, due to any reason, feel any sourness in their relationship, instead of working to resolve the issue most people tend to draw away. Most of the time the reason is insignificant but pride does not allow either one to reach out to the other. Like Adam and Eve, once we sin, fear leads us to hide from God rather than seeking forgiveness and getting reconciled. The way back is usually blocked by a small pebble that appears to be a great mountain, difficult to move.

          Why fears fills us at the start of anything? – God commanded Abram to move from his country, his people and his father’s house to ‘a place that I will show you’ (Genesis 12:1). For our good and to help us in overcoming our fears, God never reveals His entire plan in one go but it is like peeling an onion, layer by layer. God created Adam and Eve, blessed them with all the authority over everything but they were not made aware of the tempter also being there (Ezekiel 28:13). It is not that God is not aware of the capability of the individual who is entrusted with any task but it is to encourage one to move forward in faith in Him. Abram ‘believed in the LORD and He accounted to him as righteousness’ and the promise to the one who had no heir, was about his descendents to be as numerous as the stars (Genesis 15:4-6). In addition he was also blessed to inherit all the land of Canaan, a promise that was fulfilled much after his death.  

          Moses is considered the greatest prophet by the Jewish people ‘whom the LORD knew face to face’ and the LORD sent him to lead His people, the Israelites into freedom from slavery in Egypt (Deuteronomy 34:10-12). He did this ‘by all that mighty power and all the great terror which Moses performed in the sight of all Israel’. But before he agreed to obey, he raised innumerable doubts about his ability to do so, saying, ‘who am I that I should go to Pharaoh’ to why would the people believe and accept him as their leader (Genesis 3:11 to 4:13). The final excuse was that ‘I am not eloquent’ and in anger the LORD permitted the use of Aaron, his elder brother, as his ‘prophet’. It is believed that the LORD wanted to place both the office of prophet and priest in Moses but due to his repeated insistence, Aaron became the priest and this passed on to his generations. On the other hand Moses’ descendents inherited nothing of that glorious role.

         Why was Moses reluctant? After forty years, tending to the flock of Jethro, the Midianite priest, and daily interactions with him, Moses had learnt of the nature of man to resist all efforts of control over their ways. Once the Israelites were led out of Egypt, they were to go and occupy the land of abundance, then occupied by various communities (Exodus 3:8).    

        People initially laughed at Dashrath Manjhi, a landless laborer of Bihar, now known as the Mountain Man, who single handedly with a hammer and a chisel worked for 22 years to carve out a road through the Gehlour Hills, through a 300 foot high mountain. Earlier, his people had to travel 70 km to get medical attention and his wife died for she could not be taken there in time. Any challenge that we face in life always appears to be daunting but chip by chip the mountain is conquered to give the way. 

          The LORD had chosen Joshua as a successor to Moses, but he had seen all that the great prophet had suffered due to the unbelief of the people. God’s promise to him was, ‘Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you’ (Joshua 1:3). He was encouraged repeatedly by the LORD, Moses and the Israelites with the comforting words, to not be afraid. The Israelites crossed over the flooded Jordan River, for the LORD stopped the water flow till they had crossed over on dry land. Joshua thereafter circumcised all the males at Gilgal to make them understand that their new freedom was to serve the LORD God (Joshua 5:7-9). God confirmed to him about rolling away the ‘reproach of Egypt from you’ for only then could they be really free.

         The hindrances to our starting off are many but the most prominent is fear and there are various aspects to this fear. First, fear of the unknown future – Abram must have felt this but he overcame this to move out with full faith in God and His promise. Second, Fear of being mocked by others –God chose Noah and his family to make an Ark, in a location far from the sea, when no rain had ever fallen on the earth (Genesis 6:12-17). Till then the earth was watered by the mist and dew (Genesis 2:5-6). Noah worked for 40 to 75 years to build the Ark, yet he continued undaunted. Third, Fear of failure, Moses gave various excuses to slip out of the task of leading Israelites out of Egypt for he was afraid of failing. Four, Fear of retaliation by opponents, was the reason that the disciples fled from the Gethsemane Park and only Apostle John was there. This reaction of the disciples was despite the urging of Apostle Thomas to others, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with Him’, for the Lord was returning to Jerusalem, area where the Jewish elders were planning to kill Him (John 11:16). Five, Pride is another reason that holds us back from taking up something and this also affects our confession of sins to one another (James 5:16) as well as about seeking help. Six, breaking old tradition – There are many who are convinced about the truth of the Gospel of Lord Jesus, but are afraid to surrender for fear of breaking the old traditional faith of their parents.

           The Ten Commandments ‘tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God engraved on the tablets’ (Exodus 32:16). The Jewish Rabbis read the Hebrew word ‘charut’ meaning engraved as ‘cheirut’ meaning freedom. God commanded Moses to tell Pharaoh ‘Let My people go, so that they may serve Me’ (Exodus 8:1). When we pray to God to set us free from whatever we are slave to, joblessness, debt, sickness, bad relationship or anything else, the purpose must be that we serve Him, thereafter. Everyone is aware of this but most people want to be free from God also and this is the stone that is the most difficult to remove. When we are enslaved behind the stone of our imprisonment to circumstances, we are fearful of what awaits on the other side. The psychologists believe that most people who get kidnapped start compromising with their situation and after a time even tend to justify the work of the kidnappers, with reluctance to escape. Apostle Peter was freed from his chains and led out of the prison by an angel through ‘the iron gate that leads to the city’; for the LORD God still had work for him there (Acts 12:10). His freedom was for serving God and not for his own self and the one who submits to this becomes free indeed.

        Overcoming fear – Nicodemus came to meet Lord Jesus at night for fear of the Jewish elders, for he was a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish council. But later, he joined Joseph of Arimathea to help in the burial of the Lord’s body. On the other hand we see Apostle Peter always ready to meet any challenge, even to walk on the water.Finding the disciples struggling all night against the storm, Lord Jesus walked on water to help them (Matthew 14:28-31).  Apostle Peter was the only one who sought the Lord saying, ‘Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water’ and he did walk on water.

          Very early in the morning, Mary Magdalene with the other two women brought spices to anoint the body of the Lord and the only question facing them was, ‘Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?’ (Mark 16:1-4). But when they ‘looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away’ already. God does not lead us into a situation without providing a way out beforehand, but we find this only through faith. It was only Mary Magdalene who stayed back at the empty tomb, while everyone else went back and she was blessed to be the first to meet the Risen Lord (John 20:11-18). She moved out early in the morning in spite of the problem of the heavy stone at the entry to the tomb and the presence of Roman soldiers and was blessed for her determination.

            Lord Jesus was well aware of the laws of nature, yet He asked Apostle Peter to step out of the safety of the boat into the turbulent sea. Likewise all others in the boat knew the situation yet did not stop him from stepping out nor volunteered to move out, for all of them were aware of the Divinity of the Son of God and His power and authority over all of creation. The miracles recorded in the Scripture are not to document the deeds of various prophets that they performed in the power of God but to help us grow in faith. Elisha asked for a double portion of the spirit from Prophet Elijah, his mentor, and after picking up the fallen mantle from the ‘chariot of fire’, he never doubted that his prayer has not been granted and lived in faith (2 Kings 2:9-10).

          Jairus, the Synagogue ruler, sought the Lord for healing his daughter and  was desperate to take Him home (Mark 5:22-42).  Before they could move any further, the case of the woman with the flow of blood came about and Lord Jesus stopped to enquire and finally bless the woman with complete healing. In the meanwhile, Jairus received a message from his house about the death of his daughter but the Lord asked him, ‘Do not be afraid, only believe’. The sick woman had moved on in faith, removing the stone of discouragement of past failures with physicians, and touched the tassels of His cloak and was healed. Lord Jesus did not permit anyone else to follow Him except Peter, James and John and even at Jairus’ house, He only took the mother of the child into the room where the child lay. Our faith is affected by the people around us and they make it difficult for us to move forward.

         Martha was asked to get the stone removed from Lazarus’ tomb and like her, it is our reluctance to question the laws of nature that deprives us from receiving new life. The prophet defined the life of a righteous person as one who lives by faith (Habakkuk 2:4). The righteousness of God is revealed ‘through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe’ (Romans 3:21-22). The widow of the student of Prophet Elisha was commanded to borrow empty vessels, all that she could, close the door and start pouring oil into the vessels from the jar of oil (2 Kings 4:1-7).  She could have doubted and suffered. Naaman, commander of the Syrian army, was commanded  by Prophet Elisha to go wash himself in the Jordan river seven times but he became furious (2 Kings 5:10 -14). His servants asked a simple question, ‘If the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it?’ He washed and was healed.

        Our pride, unbelief and fear prevent us from believing and removing the stone from our heart and invite the Lord in and enjoy the bounties that He desires to give us. We are not to look at the storm but to Lord Jesus, for He alone can still storm of our lives.

         What to do after prayers? Archangel Gabriel informed prophet Daniel, ‘At the beginning of your supplications the command went out’ (Daniel 9:20-23). Daniel had not stopped ‘speaking, praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people’ though he would definitely be sure of an answer. There may be many reasons for delay in receiving the answer to prayer and one of the main reasons could be our being unprepared to receive it yet. We tend to forget that between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, there is also Saturday, when the Jewish elders put guards on the tomb to prevent resurrection and the disciples went into hiding for fear. Probably both were praying to the LORD God but all waited and observed Sabbath though they were far from resting under such great turmoil in their hearts. After offering prayers we also must learn to wait patiently for an answer.

           Obedience to whatever we receive through a vision, word of God, a messenger or prophet of God, dream or any other means that the Lord may decide to use, may be the answer. Be prepared to receive and answer and ready to listen to the ‘still small voice’, while thanking Him in anticipation of the answer. We are to ‘pray without ceasing’ and in everything give thanks (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18).  We receive many calls where complaints are made about no answer despite their regular church attendance and prayer. God is not obliged to answer and give me all that I desire; it is His will, grace and mercy. God is perfect in every way and we can add nothing to His glory. Our journey on earth is referred to as a race that we run while earnestly ‘looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith’ (Hebrews 12:2). When we look at the stars, they appear very small but in reality the size of each star is quite large and we learn this by looking through a telescope. When we look at Lord Jesus through the spiritual telescope, His power, authority, love and grace is beyond comprehension. Also when we look at the mountain blocking our way from His position it appears as small as a dust particle.

         The LORD God provided us with a comparison of a man who depends on man with the one who depends on the LORD. ‘Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the LORD. for he shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when good comes, but inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land which is not inhabited’ (Jeremiah 17:5-8). As compared to him, ‘Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose hope is in the LORD. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit’. 

        God has given each individual free will to choose their own paths and one can stay put behind the self or devil created prison of isolation and self dependence or remove the stone of unbelief and listen to the call of Lord Jesus and let Him give new life in Him. Choice is ours but the result is eternal life in His presence or damnation in eternal fire. On the morning of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus, we are blessed with two lives, one of abundance on earth and another eternal life thereafter. But we cannot receive either without removing the stone of unbelief and receiving Him into our hearts as Lord. He has completed His part and now it is up to us to step out of darkness and embrace the Light of His glory.

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