What are you afraid of? What is something that gives you chills or makes you feel uncomfortable when you see it, feel it, or even just think about it? When it comes to the population of America, there are a few fear or phobias that affect the majority of people. See if you fall into any of these categories:
Arachnophobia – fear of spiders. Affects as many as 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men.
Ophidiophobia – fear of snakes. Affects 51% of Americans (according to a 2001 study).
Acrophobia – fear of heights. It impacts an estimated 23 million people.
Glossophobia – fear of public speaking. A lot of people!
Countless others could be added to the list above. Some make sense – trypanophobia, fear of shots and plenty that don’t – arachibutyrophobia, fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth. We all have something in our life that spooks us or as my mom likes to say, “gives you the heebie-jeebies.” Maybe you’re not afraid of snakes and spiders, but the less tangible fear of failure, rejection, or being alone cripples you. These types of fears can affect us in our everyday life by holding us back from engaging in something new, accomplishing a goal, or even limiting what we think we can overcome. Fear like this, when unchecked, can rule over us and greatly influence our Christian walk with God. So how do we overcome these deep-rooted personal fears of ours? As always, God’s Word is where we go to find our answer to this question. Let’s look at a couple of men in the Bible and see how God helped them conquer their fears.
First up, we look to Judges 6 and the story Gideon and his fear of what he could accomplish. Judges 6:14-17, “The Lord looked at him and said, “Go in this your strength and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you?” He said to Him, “O Lord, how shall I deliver Israel? Behold, my family is the least in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father’s house.” But the Lord said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat Midian as one man.” So, Gideon said to Him, “If now I have found favor in Your sight, then show me a sign that it is You who speak with me.” The Lord tells Gideon to rise up and save Israel from the oppression the nation is under at the time. Instead of being encouraged and inspired by this vote of confidence by the Lord Himself, Gideon is too afraid to do anything. He believes he is a nobody who can’t accomplish anything. What we see happen next is a great example of God’s patience with man. Gideon repeatedly asks God for a sign to assure him that he, in fact, can lead Israel out of this. God’s messenger initially gives Gideon a sign by making fire come from a rock, but that only slightly helps Gideon see the truth. When it comes time to actually lead a group of men to battle, Gideon starts making his own request, “Make this rug wet and the ground dry in the morning! Make the ground wet and the rug dry!” Each time God goes through with the request. After all of this, Gideon finally realizes the message that God is telling him. I will be with you. You will not be alone in your ventures.
Does this remind you of anyone else in the Bible? Moses and God go through this exact same exchange. In Exodus 3, we see God telling Moses that he will be the leader who organizes and spearheads the mass exodus of Israel from Egypt. At first, Moses gives every excuse in the book to try and convince God he isn’t able to do this. It’s only after God gives him multiple signs and allows him to use his brother, Aaron, as a helper that Moses agrees to lead. If we take that picture of Moses, one who doubts himself and thinks he’s a nobody who can’t do anything and compare it to the picture of Moses we see later on in the book of Exodus where he is confidently leading the people to battle, it’s shocking it’s the same guy! What changed? Moses finally realizes, just as Gideon did, God was working right alongside him. He wasn’t alone in the fight.
We, as Christians today, need to realize that same thing. Whatever our fears are, we have God with us. Whatever things we have in front of us that seem too big to overcome or too great for us to accomplish, we have God with us. I look at someone who has arachibutyrophobia (phobia of having peanut butter on the roof of your mouth), and I think, “How in the world could someone be afraid of something like that?” I wonder if our God looks at us with the same type of confusion and thinks, “How could they be fearful when I am with them?”