Five minutes of watching a news program or reading a newspaper and one thing pops out about people. Americans are drunk on worry. The list of what we fear is long and varied: climate change, illegal immigrants coming over the borders, terrorist cells popping up like tares among the wheat. We worry about the rising costs of health care, housing, food. Californians worry about the drought, while other areas of our country are suffering record snow fall and floods. We fear pain and discomfort. Just watch the commercials coming at you during your favorite shows. Feeling a little pain, pop a pill. Have a drink.
Over the past month, it was fear of public speaking that haunted me. I’ve heard I’m not alone in that fear. Some claim the fear of public speaking is second only to the fear of death. I always want God to be glorified and listeners to take something away from my personal story that will encourage them to trust in God. Still, I have sleepless nights, tightness in my chest, butterflies in my stomach. Reminding myself that what I am called to do doesn’t hold the risk of countless missionaries around the world, soldiers going to Afghanistan (for the first time or fourth), people facing terminal illness and pain. I feel shame in my fear. Is it a sign that I lack faith?
Moses worried about speaking to Pharoah. He worried the Israelites wouldn’t believe God had sent Him. Gideon worried he was too young and from the smallest tribe. He didn’t think he could rally an army to defeat the Midianites. David worried about King Saul and spent years on the run. Peter feared dying on a cross and three times denied knowing Jesus.
God responded to their fears. He said to each: “I will be with you.” God gave words and signs and wonders to Moses. God cut Gideon’s army down to 300 and gave him the military tactics to defeat thousands of trained Midianite warriors. God made a shepherd boy into a warrior-king. God gave Peter the Holy Spirit and turned a frightened fisherman into an on-fire preacher who won three thousand souls to Christ with his first sermon.
We are all afraid at times. Sometimes the fear is real. Sometimes it’s imagined. Satan knows where we are vulnerable, where to aim his fiery arrows. Even so, God responds when we cry out to Him. He reminds us of what we already know: I will be with you to the end of time. You are my child. I love you. I am your shield and strength. Your future is secure.