Monday, July 6, 2015

"Realized Reality"

    When considering the subject of fear in Biblical terms, we begin by transitioning our thinking from the emotional and the physical to the realm of knowledge and understanding.  Who is God, who are we in relationship to Him, and what does He promise to be and do for us?  Overcoming fear first requires our answering these questions in a depth that enables us to respond to fearful temptations in the realized presence and power of Christ.  

    "He shall not be afraid of evil tidings.  His heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord.  His heart is established, he shall not be afraid" (Psalm 112:7-8).

    Of course, we do not discount or ignore the emotional and physical realities of fear.  Our Lord made us to react to challenges and dangers.   Feelings and physical sensations play a role in protecting us from unnecessary harm.  We wouldn't want to lose these necessary capacities to respond, nor does overcoming fear in terms of Scripture mean that we must do so.  However, the recognition of danger, along with accompanying feelings and sensations of concern, is meant to be productive and beneficial to us, as opposed to torturing us within or leading to unwise and harmful actions.  Consider this account from the life of the Lord Jesus Christ.

   "Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.  And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith He unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with Me. And He went a little further, and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me: nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt. And He cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from Me, except I drink it, Thy will be done" (Matthew 26:36-42).

    In Luke's account of Gethsemane, he adds that the Savior's sweat was mixed with blood (Luke 22:44).  Physiologists tell us that such a condition only happens when a person is under the most extreme emotional and physical distress imaginable.  Thus, our Savior Himself was not beyond the possibility of troubled concern that threatened to overwhelm Him in the hour of His greatest challenge.  Thankfully, the Lord Jesus overcame the temptation through the power of the Holy Spirit, and by the knowledge He possessed of His Father's presence, truth and will.  We see this preparation for the stresses of temptation in the garden by numerous statements He made during His lifetime and ministry.

   "The living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father" (John 6:57).
   "There came a voice from Heaven, saying, Thou art My beloved Son" (Mark 1:11).
   "I and my Father are one" (John 10:30).
    "He that sent Me is with Me.  The Father hath not left Me alone" (John 8:29).
    "The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into His hand" (John 3:35).

    The Lord's convictions concerning His Father's presence and care played a major role in His overcoming the challenge of Gethsemane.  In similar manner, our growing knowledge and understanding of Scripture prepares and strengthens us to realize reality in times of temptation to fear.  "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" (Romans 10:17).  Problems with fear are actions problems with Truth.  Whatever my particular emotional constitution and tendencies to react, do I adequately understand that concern actually offers opportunity to act in a positive, proactive manner?   This may simply involve the removal of our hand from the hot stove as pain makes us aware of harm at hand.  Or it may lead us to act inwardly in times when no outward action presents itself - "What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee" (Psalm 56:3).  In both cases, the issue involves Truth and our proper reaction to realized reality.

    Challenges regarding fear offer blessed opportunities to remember and relate to our Lord in the light of His promises.  Thus, we thank Him for making us with the capacity for concern and its protective nature.  We determine to respond to feelings of fear by walking in Truth, that is, by either confronting manageable matters that lie just before us, or by looking to our Father in the light of His promised presence, care, and working on our behalf.  We choose to realize reality in the light of God and His Truth - "I will trust in Thee."   For the trusting son or daughter of God in Christ, threats and feelings of trepidation provide opportunity to do that which by definition believers do - to believe.

"Come ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lord."
(Isaiah 2:5)
"I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in Him will I trust."
(Psalm 91:2)

Weekly Memory Verse
   I will call on the Lord, who is worthy to be praised.  So shall I be saved from my enemies.
(II Samuel 22:4)

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