Between Fear and Faith

Fear can be a powerful motivator or hinderance in our commitment to following God, particularly when we are called to go to a new and unfamiliar place. The most difficult part is often the journey, the transition between your old place and the new place. There is a tension between the uncertainty about where you are going and the familiarity of where you have been. It is this in-between place where doubt and fear can take hold of us, where faith and facts compete with one another. This is where the Israelites were as they approached the land God promised them.

In Numbers 13 and 14 God instructed Moses to “send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites (Numbers 13:2, NIV).” The spies spent 40 days exploring the land and reported that the land “does flow with milk and honey (13:27).” But they also reported that “the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large (13:28).” This is the moment where fact and faith present themselves to the Israelites.

God has laid out a plan for your life, a journey that will lead you to “a land flowing with milk and honey (14:8).” With each new step, he asks us to follow him in faith. The challenge is to not do what the Israelites did and take your eyes off God, to not let fear take hold of you. In Numbers 13:33 there is a telling phrase where some of the spies say, “in our own eyes.” They could only see that they looked tiny, like grasshoppers, compared to a foe who appeared “stronger” and “of great size (13:31-32).” They were scared they would be crushed like bugs even though God assured them they would take the land.

God asks us to view things through his eyes, not the world’s eyes of things like power and riches. Sometimes he asks us to take a step of faith even when the challenges look insurmountable. That’s when we need the advice of faithful followers of God like Joshua and Caleb. In Numbers 14:6-9 they tell the Israelites not to be afraid, that the Lord will give them the land; that it is a good land; that the Lord is with them and they should not be afraid. Numbers 14:24 tells us that Caleb “has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly.” This is the type of counsel we need to encourage us on the path that the Lord has laid before us. If we let fear instead of faith dominate our actions, we may miss what God has in store for us.

Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun. As for your children that you said would be taken as plunder, I will bring them in to enjoy the land you have rejected. – Numbers 14:30-31 (NIV)

© 2018 CGThelen

#Retrospective: This post originally published July 3, 2018.

10 thoughts on “Between Fear and Faith

  1. Well said. We must draw our strength from God and follow His lead. There are so many things that can discourage and distract us from following Him. May God grant us the sight to clearly see His path. Thanks for sharing your insight. Blessings.

  2. C.G. Thank you! Yes, if we look with our human eyes and think with our human reasoning, we can talk ourselves out of obeying God out of fear of all the “what ifs.” But faith is the opposite of fear, so we cannot allow fear to overtake us, but we must remain faithful to our Lord and to obeying him even if things don’t look so promising from a human standpoint. We must rest in the Lord, and keep moving forward in his strength, putting on his armor daily so we can fight off those darts of the enemy.

  3. So true. We need to stand up to fear — turn around and tell that stray dog to go away! May we trust more fully in God. Thanks for the comment. Blessings.

  4. Great reminder. Fear has a way of following along behind nipping at our heels like a stray dog unless we stand up against it fully trusting God fully on the issue. God bless!

  5. Oh, so true! Fear can kick us out of a place, can freeze us in the transition, and can send us off in the wrong direction. No wonder God’s Word so often tells us to fear not. Thanks for posting.

  6. Timely message, especially as we move my husband’s mother to an unfamiliar new home. Thanks for the reminder!

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