walk in the word
7Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land that the LORD has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall put them in possession of it. 8It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” —Deuteronomy 31:7-8
You can dress fear up in all kinds of costumes or drive it undercover, but it is never very far away. Many people are afraid of their shadow, but more people know their fears are their shadow. The Bible recognizes that fear is one of our greatest problems, addresses it, and provides the antidote.
In his words to Joshua, Moses put an anti-fear prescription around his declaration of God’s promises. His directions were both positive, “Be strong and courageous,” and negative, “Do not fear or be dismayed.” Moses was instructing Joshua to exercise strength and courage because he was going “with this people” as their leader, but he also reminded his younger associate to always remember that God would be going “before you” and would be “with you.” With his calling and God’s promises in mind, Joshua needed to face his fears. We need the same wise counsel.
Fears come in predictable patterns. No one’s afraid of the past. The past creates other problems—like regrets and consequences. And no one is really afraid of the present. You might be upset about the present, but you don’t fear it because you know it. However, you may fear the future. You may fear now what will happen next—experience anxiety, which is dread of the future. You may feel panic provoked by the unknown. However, fear is about as accurate and reliable as the local weather forecast. Yet somehow, both can create a frenzy.
Along with anxiety about the future, you may fear loss and pain. You may be afraid of losing people, possessions, or even your position. It is natural to recoil from physical pain and be fearful of emotional pain. And who doesn’t fear failure?
As you recognize the predictable patterns of fear in your life, have the prescription at hand: the promise of God’s presence. God is with you. Or as Moses put it, “The Lord goes before you.” God stays with us and scouts the road ahead. “For he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5-6, emphasis added). God is with you wherever you go. You do not need to be afraid.
Let the calm, strong assurance of this great and precious promise settle down in your soul: God is always with me. Therefore, I will not fear.
Father, I realize that fear interferes with my fellowship with You. I can’t focus on fear and focus on You at the same time. Forgive me for how often I choose to focus on fear when I know You have promised to always be with me. Thank You for Your faithfulness in calling me again and again out of the quagmire of fear and into Your presence, where I find peace. Continue to train me toward a more continuous alertness to Your constant presence in my life. In Jesus’ name, amen.
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