Several years ago, after a Church service one Sunday morning in Berkeley, California, my family and I were confronted on the street by a big, mean dog which started barking at us.
I grabbed the hand of my then youngest daughter who was afraid of the dog. The dog continued barking and barring its teeth, but it stood still. After a little while, my daughter thought she had a better idea. She pulled her hand off my grips and started to run away from the dog. The dog chased after her and I went after her while shouting at the dog. The dog abandoned the chase after I got a hold of my daughter again.
My daughter was overwhelmed by fear in that brief encounter with the dog. Fear clouds our judgment and leads us to act based more on emotions than on facts. Fear breeds negativity and has wreaked havoc in the lives of many people, including Christians. If we look critically into our past, many of us would find that we have allowed fear to gain control over our lives. Because of fear, we have not served God as we should and have not seized opportunities to share the Word of God with others in fulfillment of the Great Commission. Many of us have been afraid to make some personal, professional, or business decisions that would have helped us, including going back to school, changing jobs or careers, launching a business, starting a major project, traveling to or living in certain parts of Ghana or the world, having that medical operation, helping our parents and the extended family, or even getting married.
My daughter, at the age of five, could be one of those about whom the Lord spoke through the Prophet Hosea that “my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.” (Hosea 4:6). My daughter was too young to know that the safest and most secure position for her at that time was to stay as close to her parents and family as possible, and the worst was to run away from them to nowhere. She was too young to have known or read about Psalm 91: “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.” (Psalm 91:1-2). On a lighter note, my daughter was also too young to know that her father was not intimidated by the barking dog partly because his namesake in the Bible, Daniel, once upon a time, spent the night comfortably when he was compelled to be the special guest of honor at the lions’ motel surrounded by a bunch of hungry Lion Kings! God is still able to protect His children.
Like my daughter, many Christians run away from the shelter of the Most High whenever they feel threatened by the devil. They literally pull their hands from the Lord’s grips and leave the shelter of the Most High into the waiting arms of the devil whenever they face problems and challenges that are not resolved in their favor and according to their own time table.
They stop praying or attending Church services or fellowship, or reading the Bible. They begin to attribute their misfortunes to witches and evil spirits and would say that their own sickness is not the type that could be cured by medical doctors or that their own problems or troubles cannot be handled through ordinary prayers, but by some extraordinary powers. And so they run from pastor to pastor, and from one Church to another. Eventually, they run away from the Most High God, the Creator of heaven and earth, into the deceiving arms of fetish priests, native doctors, juju men and their gods, for healing or protection.
They become impressed by these powers of darkness and their ability to provide, in some cases, quick and easy solutions laced with traps. Note that the powers of darkness have been in existence in this world for a long time. They have some limited powers. For example, when Moses and Aaron appeared before Pharaoh in order to free Israel from bondage, the powers of darkness were able to duplicate some of the miracles God performed through Moses (Exodus Chapters 7 and 8). Idol worship was so rampant that the first two of the Ten Commandments speak against it; specifically, that we shall not have any other gods before God, and that we shall not make for ourselves an idol and worship it (Exodus 20:1-6).
Therefore, withdrawing from the community of Christians and going solo into idol worshipping make those Christians attract God’s wrath, and even more vulnerable to the devil’s ploys, just like how my daughter became an easy target for the dog when she broke away from the family. There is strength in unity. Those Christians and others do not realize that if they make the Most High their dwelling, the Lord will be their refuge and no harm or disaster will overcome them (Psalm 91:9-10). Nor do they know or pay attention to God’s Word that the righteous may be afflicted with many troubles, but the Lord delivers him or her from all of them (Psalm 34:19).
Many of us are too busy worrying about our problems and entertaining fears to appreciate the fact that we are special before the Almighty God. We are worth more than we think. As human beings, we were created by, and in the image of, God, and given custody over all of God’s magnificent creation. As Christians, we have been saved and redeemed by the precious blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and filled with the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ has prepared a place for us in heaven. Meanwhile, we are protected by the Almighty God through His Son, Jesus Christ, to whom all authority in heaven and on earth has been given (Matthew 28:18).
We have no good reason to live in fear because we have not received a spirit that makes us slaves again to fear, but the Spirit of adoption by which we cry, Abba, Father. (Romans 8:15). Maybe, we have been playing defense for far too long and it is time for us to switch to offense. Jesus has given as the weapons and the authority to trample over snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy, with the promise that nothing will harm us (Luke 10:19). We should rebuke the spirit of fear from our midst. Any spirit that makes us fear or worship any of God’s creations, rather than God, the Creator Himself, is not of God and must be rejected in Jesus name.
Therefore, let us stand firm and not fear when troubles or problems come our way. We should pray a little longer, sing a little longer, read the Bible a little longer, fellowship and stay in the Church a little longer, and exercise faith and patience a little longer. Soon, the power of the Lord would be revealed to us. If we pray a little longer, the Lord may open our eyes to see that the forces working in our favor are more than those working against us. (2 Kings 6:16-17). If we sing a little longer, we may come across the second stanza of the hymn, Onward Christian Soldiers, and find that we are on to victory because at the name of Jesus, Satan and his forces flee. Or, we may come across the hymn, Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus, which will remind us to let courage rise with danger; put on the Gospel armor, and to watch and pray; that the strife will not be long; and that one day the noise of battle, but next the victor’s song.
We should note that as soldiers of the cross, while no weapons formed against us shall prosper (Isaiah 54:17), we may be wounded in the battlefield once in a while and our faith would be tested many times, but we should pick ourselves up by the grace of God and press on the upward way, not minding those who will ridicule us by questioning the existence or power of our God and our faith in Him. In those times, we should keep in mind that Christ warns us that in him we will have peace, in this world we will have troubles, but we should be of good cheer because he has overcome the world (John 16:33).
If we read the Bible a little longer, we may find that the Word of God is powerful and sharper than any double-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). The answer to fear is faith. Fear is at war with our faith, but we can use our faith to conquer fear. Reading the Bible would help us to increase our faith because faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17). We may also come across an excellent demonstration of faith in Chapter 3 of the Book of Daniel where three young men — Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego – refused to bow down and worship the image of King Nebuchadnezzar. They were not overcome by the fear of death.
They told the King that God would rescue them from the burning furnace, but more profoundly, even if God did not rescue them, they would still not bow down to worship an idol. They were willing to die rather than disobey God and worship an idol, but God rescued them. And so even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we will fear no evil because the Lord is with us (Psalm 23: 4). We would also note Christ’s advice that even if those who threaten to kill us are successful, they can only touch our bodies, but not our souls. We should not fear them or their weapon of death. Instead, we should fear God who can destroy both body and soul in hell (Matthew 10:28).
Finally, dear Christians, remember that the battle is not ours, but the Lord’s (2 Chronicle 20:15). And the Lord says that it is not by might nor by power, but by His spirit (Zechariah 4:6). Therefore, let us stay as close to the Commander-in-Chief as possible, within the shelter of the Most High, and rest in the shadow of the Almighty. That means we have to be on the Lord’s side, not just in thoughts, but in words; and not just in words, but in deeds; and not just in deeds, but as a way of life. If we live the Christian life that way, we would be more than conquerors and nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8: 37-39). Once again, stand firm and fear not because the Lord is with you.
Prayer is the key. May God grant us the grace to seek Him daily through our prayers.