Week of Monday, March 8 ­– Sunday, March 14
Fight Fear – Man as a Defender

“But fear not, O Jacob my servant, nor be dismayed, O Israel, for behold, I will save you from far away, and your offspring from the land of their captivity. Jacob shall return and have quiet and ease, and none shall make him afraid. 28 Fear not, O Jacob my servant, declares the Lord, for I am with you. I will make a full end of all the nations to which I have driven you, but of you I will not make a full end. I will discipline you in just measure, and I will by no means leave you unpunished.” — Jeremiah 46:27-28 ESV
Guess how many times the word fear is in the Bible. If you’re using the newer ESV translation, the answer is 437. But if you prefer the old King James, it is 501! If you include the word afraid in your search, you have to add another 189 to your count. Do you wonder why God brings up fear hundreds of times throughout His word? Fear can be one of our greatest barriers to trusting Him. We fear the unknown. We fear things we can’t control. We fear disappointing the people we love. We fear failing. We fear criticism from others. Get the idea?

It’s easy to think that if we could just see what is coming our way, then we wouldn’t be so worried about the future. Yet, time and again in Scripture, God gave clear messages about the future, but His people were still fearful. Moses knew the plan for leading Israel out of Egypt, yet he still questioned God’s call, fearing he wasn’t up to the task (Ex. 4). Israel knew the plan for their future in the Promised Land, but the majority report after doing a reconnaissance of Jericho and the land around it led them to question God’s power and His goodness (Num. 13). They embraced fear because they were worried about their future.

It was the same for God’s people in Jeremiah’s day. God explicitly laid out what was going to happen in their future. While they would be disciplined for their disobedience and sent into exile in a foreign land, a return and restoration were promised in their future. Yet, the Jewish people remained fearful. The proof? Well, the word “fear” appears a couple of those 500 times right here in this passage.

Their fear comes as no surprise. Let’s be honest. Even if we knew what was waiting for us 10 or 20 steps down the road, most of us would still find a way to doubt God’s good intentions about our future. The natural response is to listen to the fear that keeps us from trusting and obeying Him. Part of our role as Defender is to help our families assess threats for what they are, an impediment to fulfilling God’s will, and respond with faith instead of fear. Defenders seek to cultivate a mindset that anticipates challenges and overcomes them, instead of passively falling victim to them. We need to help our own defend against discouragement and embrace God’s providence with faith as it plays out in our circumstances. As God told the Jews in exile: “Fear not…”

But also be realistic. God doesn’t soothe our fears with the promise of a smooth path. He doesn’t promise us there won’t be pain. He doesn’t guarantee that we won’t feel the weight of our sin. What He does promise is His presence: “For I am with you.” For that reason, we don’t have to fear the endless unknowns in life. We aren’t alone. God’s chosen people were not alone, even in exile. Because He won’t leave us, we can trust that He will be faithful to His word. Even when He feels far away, when pain is followed with pain, when plans change and dreams die. Even when our present difficult circumstances feel like they will last forever. Even then, He is still with us, working and redeeming for our good and for His glory.

As Defenders, reinforce that message and fight fear. Remember that courage is not the absence of fear. Rather it is overcoming fear. For the Christian man, we overcome that fear because we know the word of God and we trust Him to fulfill those promises.

  • What fears speak the loudest in your life? Acknowledge to God the fears that keep you from trusting Him and walking in faith.
  • In your role as Defender, what are some ways you can cultivate a mindset in your family that anticipates challenges and overcomes them with faith instead falling victim to fear?
  • Thank Jesus for not acting in fear but for sacrificing His very life to stand as your Defender. Ask Him to remind you of His presence in the midst of all your challenges.