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Moving forward without fear

Ryan McGuire/CC0 Public Domain/Pixabay

For more than a year, fear has dominated our headlines. From a global pandemic to social and political unrest, people around the world have had plenty of reasons to fret, and Christians are no exception. Some of us are returning to life as normal — or close to it. But some are still struggling with moving on after the chaotic, uncertain and difficult season we’ve come through.

Jesus told us trying times like the past year are to be expected in this life. We’ve seen war and disease ravage the world time and time again. One hundred years ago, the Spanish flu alone wiped out at least 50 million people worldwide. Scientists now say COVID-19 may remain and more viruses will follow.

We often face challenging situations like the COVID-19 pandemic that cause us to panic and question whether God is as big and powerful as He says He is. We feel intense fear and uncertainty. Worry and anxiety threaten to overwhelm our faith. Sometimes we want to bury our struggles to repress hurt or hide behind Bible studies or worship services to press on despite our pain. Some grapple with a loss of control and doubt about who to trust — both of which cause stress and anxiety. We worry we won’t have enough faith, energy or resources to face these fears. While panic may be a normal human emotion, especially in times of serious uncertainty, it doesn’t have to be our new normal.

So how do we move forward when the world around us feels impossible to manage?

I believe we can have clarity amid chaos by knowing who we are, what we were made for and what has been given to us by God. We do this not by looking at ourselves but by looking at who God is.

We can have peace during difficult trials when we remember we are God’s beloved children— His adopted heirs. As Galatians 4:7 says, “So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then God made you an heir.” This is the heart of the Gospel — that God chose us, not that we chose Him. When we’re confused or feel like threats lie around every corner, we must not forget our sonship. Our adoption cost God the price of His son’s life. He had to satisfy His own justice and law to adopt us into his family, and He did so by the life, death, and resurrection of His son Jesus Christ. He not only adopted us, changing our status, but He also pours His Spirit into our hearts, embracing us as beloved children.

Paul expands on this when he says the Spirit helps us in our weakness. What is this weakness? It is the senselessness, frustration, death and disease we experience in this life as we wait for Christ’s return. When we don’t know what to pray or what to do, the Spirit intercedes for us.

We can also move forward without fear by remembering our singular purpose in this world: to glorify God. It’s easy to feel a sense of self-importance and find ourselves distracted by the culture, politics and general chaos around us. While God has given each of us unique gifts and talents, He calls us to use our abilities for one goal — glorifying him. Our everyday aim should be to follow Jesus. If we are focused on who we are and how we might effectively serve the world and reflect his glory, we will be better equipped to “fear not” in an unsettled world.

Brothers and sisters, God knows that we will all experience terrible events in our lives that will cause us to want to shrink back. But He has placed in us the faith and belief needed to fight our fears and walk forward with the whole confidence of God. More than that, we’ve been giving authority by the Holy Spirit who lives in us to call on Him for the supernatural power needed to persevere with hope. The apostle John tells us in 1 John 4:4, “The Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.”

When the enemy tempts you with doubts, threats and fear, listen to the One who says you are secure in his righteous right hand. You can make it through whatever this world throws at you. I don’t know what you will face in this world, but I do know we will all experience times of trials. If we remember who we are, what we’ve been created for and what has been given to us, then we can move forward not in fear but in courageous faith.

Gary Wilkerson is the president of World Challenge, a global ministry that aims to transform lives through the message and mission of Jesus Christ. Wilkerson is also the founding pastor of The Springs Church, which he launched in 2009. He has traveled nationally and internationally to speak at conferences and conducted mission ventures such as church planting, starting orphanages, clinics and feeding programs among the poorest of the poor and the most unreached people of the earth.

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