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“The Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid of them, because by this time tomorrow I will hand all of them, slain, over to Israel.” (Josh 11:7)
The story of Joshua is one of recurring themes. And one of them is “Do not be afraid”. Ten chapters earlier (or approximately 250 verses), before any blade had been blooded and the soldiers alongside Joshua were all naive novices in the art of war, God had spoken to Joshua about the powerful debilitating effects of fear (see verse 9). Now, at this crucial juncture in the campaign, when massive gains were about to be made, God reconfirms the importance of not allowing fear to strangle the faith-life out of Joshua.
What about you? What about me? Does fear play a debilitating role in your life? It’s easy to put on a super-spiritual ‘mask’ and say “well of course not”. Yet, when I talk with people and I look in my own heart, I know that fear seems to be very present! I suspect that we are much more like Brennan Manning when he said: “When I get honest, I admit I am a bundle of paradoxes. I believe and I doubt. I hope and get discouraged. I love and I hate.” And here’s the rub, if a courageous and pioneering leader like Joshua needed reminding to not be afraid, then maybe just maybe so do we!
How do we live lives that are not suffocated by fear? I think Psalm 56:3 does a pretty good job of describing how to live a life freed from fear: “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” Here in this verse we see:
- Honesty about the presence of fear – “when I am afraid”
- The need to actively thrust our hearts into a trusting posture – “I put my trust in you”
If you know that fear plagues you, can I encourage you to make the following prayer a daily (or maybe even hourly prayer) in your life.
Dear Father, I acknowledge that my heart frequently gets troubled and overwhelmed by fear. I don’t want to try and avoid this, but rather lift these fears up to you right now. At the same time, I choose not to be paralysed by fear but rather to put my trust freshly in you. I look to you for hope and help. I also ask that you would take these fears from me and replace them with a quiet peacefulness. Amen