¡°WHEN FEAR INTRUDES LIFE¡± By Pastor YAU
Text: Psalm 34:1-10 April 29, 2012.
1) Fear of a nation: In his inaugural speech in 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt, the newly elected president of the US, addressed a nation that was still reeling from the Great Depression. Hoping to ignite a more optimistic outlook regarding that economic crisis, he declared, ¡°The only thing we have to fear is fear itself!¡±
2) Fear of a person: Fear often shows up in our lives when we are at risk of losing something or someone----our job, health, wealth, safety, family, friends, etc. It reveals our innate desire to protect the things or persons that are so important to us. It will double its size and power when we feel helpless to avert its coming plus the imagined or possible devastation.
GETTING TO KNOW FEAR:
1) Definition of fear: According to the Web-Dictionary, ¡°fear is an emotion experienced in anticipation of some specific pain or danger, usually accompanied by a desire to flee or fight.¡± The gift of emotion is precious, but to protect our emotion from fear can be the greatest challenge of life.
2) The nature of fear: Fear may come from real life condition or from our imagination and/or exaggeration. The root of fear is from the ¡°unknown.¡± If we know what is coming and are prepared to handle it, fear may subside or even disappears. Some had suggested that knowledge can be an effective anti-dote of fear.
3) The power of fear: The power of fear on people varies from person to person and subject to subject. Usually the level of the power of fear is closely related to the level of seriousness of the matter and the level of our ability to tackle it. We feel more fearful when facing a serious situation plus the inability on our side to tackle the situation.
4) The reality of fear: Fear is real to all of us regardless of race, education, wealth, life experience or personality: we all have some kind or degrees of fear in our own life. One thing may not be fearful to someone but it could be very fearful to some one else. No one on this planet earth is totally immune from fear. So, it is not shameful to admit: ¡°I am afraid.¡±
WHAT CAN FEAR DO TO US?
1) Fear cripples reason power: Most of us are endowed with the power to reason and we make decisions based on that power. But when we have fear in our emotion, the reasoning power is reduced or blocked so we can¡¯t make reasonable or intelligent decisions. Many people made major mistakes under the pressure of fear because at that moment, emotion takes control of reason.
2) Fear creates illusions: Fear doesn¡¯t stop at the issue we face; it creates irrational illusion of negative outcome that in turn puts us in paralyzed condition. When fear attacks our emotion, we tend to imagine the worse is yet to come and this heightens the level of fear because we don¡¯t know how bad things could become. The spiral of illusion can paralyze or incapacitate us.
3) Fear focuses on negative: When Elijah was threatened of his life he fled to the wilderness with so much fear and cried to God on his failure of not measured up to his ancestors in terms of being faithful to God. He completely ignored the fact that the Lord had just answered his plead by a miracle of fire and his elimination of 450 false priests of the idol Baal. When we have so much fear, we can¡¯t see facts. We can only see the dark side of the issue and ignore the bright side, and the more we focus, the worse things become.
4) Fear changes life course: When Abraham had so much fear of his life, he lied about Sarah as his sister, not his wife. When Mark feared the troubles of a mission trip, he changed course and abandoned the team. Many Christians fear ridicules from their non-Christian friends, they hide the faith in Jesus and live like everyone else. They fear failure of witnessing and never witness. They fear to be seen as religious nuts, they dare not even say grace at mealtime or talk about God in their casual conversations. Fear has been a strong stumbling block for many Christians which stops them from follow God and serve Him.
HOW TO HARNESS FEAR?
1) No one is fear-free: We need to live in the real world and have reasonable understanding about life: We all have fear of something or someone at some point in our life. This is because we are all human and there are things and situations we can do nothing to avoid or eliminate. It is good to know our limitation in dealing with fear: we cannot destroy fear, but can learn to control or harness fear. Even though we cannot totally eliminate fear, but we can¡¯t live in fear all the time. Here are some of the steps which are very effective to control or harness fear.
2) Try this 4-P formula: This formula is not man-made, but God- made. It has been proven to be very effective for millions in the past 2,000 years.
a) God¡¯s presence: In time of life storms, remember God never forsake you and his presence is promised each day and every moment. Jesus promised to be with us to the end of the world. (Matt 28:20)
b) God¡¯s power: Fear can paralyze us because we realize how powerless we are. But when God is with us, his power is more than sufficient to carry us through. Ask yourself: Is there anything too difficult for God? ¡°He said to me: My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.¡± (2 Cor. 12:9)
c) God¡¯s protection: When we feel we are vulnerable with no one or nothing to keep us from harm, remember that God can protect us from all harm. As long as we stay in side his tent of mercy, God won¡¯t allow anything or anyone to hurt us. ¡°The Lord will keep you from all harm, he will watch over your life.¡± (Psalm 121:7)
d) God¡¯s provision: In this economical hard time, we may face problems in needs of daily bread. This is a real and scary problem when we don¡¯t have resources to pay the bills, food on the table, etc. We also may have needs in our hearts: we need love, care and support. Even in all these material and emotional needs God promised not to leave anyone in hunger, physically, emotionally and spiritually: ¡°The lions may go weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.¡± (Ps 34:10)
3) Let¡¯s learn from the best: King David is one of the best, if not the best, on facing and conquering fear of life. In the text today, we can learn a few things from his experience:
a) First seek help from God: ¡°I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.¡± (34:4) Before we seek help from anyone else, we need to seek help from God. Don¡¯t put seeking God the last resort after all other resources we try to seek have failed.
b) Then be humble before God: ¡°This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles.¡± (34:6) Being poor is to acknowledge we are in a helpless situation and we cannot solve our problems unless God intervene and deliver us out. If we continue to rely on our strength, God will wait.
c) Hold up faith in God: ¡°Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.¡± (34:8) If we stay under the wings of God, we will not be afraid of anything or anyone. ¡°The Lord is with me, I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?¡± (Psalm 118:6)
1) Peaceful time, thank God: This is one of the five points Rick Warren gave in his interview. Too often, we take peaceful time for granted. In fact, peaceful time is exceptional in this turbulent world. We need to remember, it is the Lord and His protection that we have peaceful time to enjoy life. So, never brag or be too proud of good times. God provides us peaceful life so we can serve him and others to lead them to know God. That is the purpose God has in mind: we are his messengers to bring Hid love to others.
2) Trouble time, seek God: Do not be panic when fear intrudes your life. Jesus said, ¡°In this world, you have tribulations, but be of good cheers, for I have overcome the world.¡± (John 16:33) If the Lord can overcome death, is there anything too difficult for him? Trouble time is the best time to put our faith to test if it is real. Job has gone through troubles of life before all of us, and here is what he testified: ¡°He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.¡± (Job 23:10)