If you’ve never been caught in the surf line at the beach, this picture may not carry the same impact that it does for me. But having spent some time on both coasts I can identify, although I am not and never will be an ocean person… I much prefer the mountains. However, I think you will identify with what this picture represents… fear!
All of us have at one time or another been caught in the surf line of fear. We want to be standing on the peaceful and secure beach of faith, but wave after wave of fear keeps pulling our legs out from under us. No matter how hard we struggle it seems as though we can’t make it out of the pounding surf and onto the beach. This is especially true at high tide when the force of the waves is even stronger and the struggle to stay upright becomes almost impossible. And the last thing you want is to be pulled under and dragged out into the surf by the receding wave. I’ve been there in the natural and I’ve been there in the spiritual, and the struggle in both can be intense. The waves of fear can begin as little ones that catch us off guard, and by the time we realize we’re caught they’ve become overwhelming and the struggle to get free becomes harder with each successive wave.
When we find ourselves being pounded and pulled by the waves of fear, there are only two options available to us, and one of them is not God’s option. Like the real world, we can continue to struggle and fight in our own strength and hope for a “low tide” to come in and take the fear away. This is a struggle that will wear us down and can even overwhelm us to the point of complete defeat, dragging us so far down in fear that we don’t even have the strength to call upon God for help. Which, by the way, if we had heeded His Word in the first place we wouldn’t have found ourselves being pulled under! His option is to walk in, live in, and pray in faith moment-by-moment.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about fear lately and how the enemy uses it so subtly to pull us under. It seems like every day the world around us is spinning out of control; out of our ability to control our personal world, the one we live in every day. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed by fear when all you read, see, and hear on the radio, TV, or in the newspaper is one major disaster after another, each one seemingly greater in magnitude. For the unbeliever, it can destroy even the strongest because they are without any hope outside of themselves and those around them to provide a way out. And for the Christian, it’s even a greater challenge because we “know” the answer and yet we often times fail to apply it to the situation, allowing the circumstances to overcome us. We simply stand and allow one wave after another to wear us down. I know I’m not alone in this battle because the Word of God tells me that all of us are challenged by fear, and I know I’m not the only one who has succumbed to the enemy and found myself stuck in the sand, unable to move.
Well, that’s not God’s way… but you already knew that. So why do we wind up being pounded by the waves of fear when we know we need to be standing on the beach. And more importantly, knowing that “faith” is our ticket to the beach, why do we fail to stand in faith in the One who can lift us up out of the pounding surf and put us on the beach. I think I know the answer, at least it’s the answer God has been pouring into me over the past several weeks. Perhaps, if you spend some time with Him, it will be the answer that He gives you for facing fear.
Our faith is weak in the face of fear because down inside we don’t believe God!
Think about that for a moment. I could fill the rest of this message with scripture where God has told us the answer to fear is found in Him, which we are to appropriate by faith. The same faith that would have kept us out the pounding surf in the first place. Our weak faith is the result of our not believing God. We fail to believe what He has told us about our faith, and we fail to stand on His Word in our prayer. Without faith our prayers are just empty words. Without faith our prayers never rise above the ceiling. Without faith we have no “right” to call upon God to be faithful to His promises. Consider the following examples and see if this rings true.
- We fail to turn to God in prayer at the outset: James 4:2… ye have not, because ye ask not.
- We don’t believe God’s promises: Ps 91:15 He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honor him.
- We don’t believe that Jesus is committed to answer our prayer: John 14:13-14 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
- We fail to understand that the “answer to our prayer” is what glorifies God. Elijah understood that when He prayed to God for a miracle… 1 Kings 18:37 Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the Lord God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again.
- We don’t believe that the secret to peace in our circumstances is prayer: Phil 4:6-7 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
I could add many, many additional scriptures, but I think the message is clear. We do not enter into true prayer because of our lack of faith in God’s desire or ability to respond to our prayer. We either fail to ask or ask “amiss,” just throwing up a hail Mary when its 4th and long (sorry, I’m a huge football fan). Oh how we so often let our circumstances generate the fear that we allow to overwhelm us when God wants to fill us with His perfect peace, hiding us from the pounding waves that would crush us. Paul said to the Corinthians, I would have you without carefulness. He didn’t want them to “care for” the evils that surrounded them, which would draw them in different directions, distract them, and cause them to be anxious. Jesus, in His Sermon on the Mount, told us that we are to take no thought for the morrow. Focusing on the worries of tomorrow is just borrowing trouble, and “fear is the interest paid on borrowed trouble.”
Phil 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Failing to believe that prayer covers “all” things that have to do with our body, our business, our family, etc. results in undue anxiety, causes great worry, and cripples our mind and our spirit. We can relieve ourselves of all of that if we just “believe” in prayer as the means God has given us to relieve those cares. And as a result, we will learn the secret of peace and happiness by casting “all” our cares in prayer on the Lord… the One who cares for us. It’s God’s promise to us, and we can’t call upon that promise enough, because it’s the very basis of our faith and the ground that we stand on when we pray.
Matt 21:22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.
In the words of E. M. Bounds, “The possibilities of prayer are the possibilities of faith; faith is always praying and prayer is always believing.” Satan knows that, and he knows that it’s the lack of faith in God and His promises that keep us from praying, which keeps us standing in the surf line, being continually pounded by our fears. Just remember… great faith enables Jesus to do great things! All we have to do is ask, believing that Jesus always hears our prayers and has promised to answer them. Not just sometimes but all the time… so God can be glorified.
The question is… do we know that?