The Antidote to Fear
No One Really Saw This Coming.
Just a few weeks ago our economy was booming, the stock market was soaring to record heights, people were spending money and making plans for the approaching spring break. In a matter of days our economy came to a screeching halt as schools were canceled, major sports leagues were called off or postponed, and now many are sequestered to the confines of their homes. All because of a new virus spreading across the world. How long will this continue? No one really knows.
A friend told me this coronavirus crisis reminded him of the terrorist attacks on 9/11 in 2001. In some ways, yes. But in many ways, no. The surprise attacks from airplanes in the skies hit our country like a gut punch. Having two oceans on our east and west coasts as security from foreign enemies were stripped away from us. But most people went back to work or school on September 12th. The stock market and sporting events were postponed, but only temporarily. Although dazed, life in America moved on. Now it seems like life in America is potentially going to be completely different than it was two weeks ago.
The question facing many of us is simple: What do I do when I don’t know what to do? What do I do about my job? What do I do about my children being home from school and I still have to work? What do I do about my retirement in the future? What do I do now that I just retired and lost a boat-load of money? The questions go on and on.
There is a king in the Old Testament who can relate to not knowing what to do. His name is King Jehoshaphat. One day he was surprised to hear the news that three enemy nations were on the march toward Jerusalem. Without the aid of radar or satellite imaging the king also found out the armies were just around the bend and within a day’s journey of the capital. He had no time to rally his army to fight.
First Step: Humility
What did he do? He cried out to God and said, “We have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do…” (2 Chronicles 20:12)
Jehoshaphat was humble enough to state the obvious – he didn’t know what to do. The problem was too big, too overwhelming, and too surprising for him. Can you relate? Our pride wants to say, “I’ve got this” when we really don’t. It takes humility to say, “I don’t know what to do.”
Second Step: Focus
After King Jehoshaphat was honest about not knowing what to do, he said, “but our eyes are on you.” Jehoshaphat’s best decision in this crisis was to put his eyes on God. His eyes were not on his government or his army or his human advisors. His focus was not even on his impending problem. His eyes were on God.
Where are your eyes with this coronavirus crisis? Of course we should read good information, receive counsel, and roll up our sleeves to do whatever it takes to survive this crisis. But trust me in this, having our eyes on anyone or anything else besides God will lead to more stress and anxiety than we are already experiencing. Having our eyes on God for deliverance, for wisdom, for hope, and peace is our only answer for when we don’t know what to do.
Strangest Military Battle Plan
What takes place next in this story has to be the most unique military victory in human history. A prophet came to the king with these words:
This is what the LORD says to you: “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.” 2 Chronicles 20:15-17
King Jehoshaphat shared his military battle plan with the people. The plan didn’t call for everyone to run and hide. The plan wasn’t to strategically place snipers on the cliffs above the enemy. The plan didn’t involve high tech machinery. His battle plan was simple: worship God. Say what? Here is what scripture says happened,
Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying, “Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.” As they began to sing and praise, the LORD set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. The Ammonites and Moabites rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another. When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert and looked toward the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped. 2 Chronicles 20:21-24
Antidote for Fear
King Jehoshaphat had legitimate fear. A surprise invasion had come into the land. Fear is real. Fear can be paralyzing. But fear that is paralyzing is not compatible with faith. Why? Because this kind of fear doesn’t come from God. It comes from Satan. Fear does all sorts of things to us: it negatively affects our body, it causes us to lose sleep, and it robs us of our peace and joy. So, what is the antidote to fear?
Pastor Louie Giglio wrote a great book called Goliath Must Fall: Winning the Battle Against Your Giants. I highly recommend this book. The very first giant he talks about is fear. Louie says, “It shows up as anxiety or nervousness or worry or stress or dread or tension or stomach problems. Fear chews away at our lives and erodes our sense of confidence and well-being. It robs us of our sleep and rest. Fear binds us and steals our praise.”
The best part is the solution to fear Louie gives: “The antidote to fear is faith and the soundtrack to faith is worship.”
When my wife, Candy, was surprised with a dark and scary diagnosis of cancer, fear raised its ugly head. Her mind began racing with fear at the thought of not being alive to see our daughter Holly getting married, not being around to witness grandchildren, and not growing old with me. I was weighed down with the fear of being a widower in my early 50’s, losing my best friend and lover, and the dreaded thought of loneliness without her. Fear brought sleeplessness, tears, discouragement, and doubt.
But all that changed when we began to worship – out loud. Yes, actually worshiping out loud. Why? Satan cannot read our thoughts and our private meditations. He is not God who knows all things. But when people begin praising God, Satan finds an exit because he hates God and everything about God. Think about it. Satan hates it when his enemy is receiving praise. And when Satan leaves, he takes his #1 tool with him: fear. And in the absence of fear, guess what enters in its place? Peace and Joy.
Let me finish this blog with a video of my wife sharing her experience with cancer and what worship did to conquer her fear.