Trials act as the initiating force to our transformation, but they also reveal our trust in God. This pandemic has revealed a lot about our country and our commitment to the one who sacrificed his life for us.
The New Living Translation of Mark 5:36 captures Jesus saying the following to Jairus about the apparent death of his daughter:
“Don’t be afraid. Just have faith.”
We often hear the phrase “Faith Over Fear” when we are entering and enduring a difficult season, but this can be difficult to apply at times. How can you choose faith when your spiritual space is dominated by fear?
Being an African American man in the United States is not the most comforting thing right now.
Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed in his neighborhood while going for a jog. Recently in Minneapolis, a police officer took the life of George Floyd by kneeling on his neck until he became motionless.
It’s difficult to forget Eric Garner that couldn’t breathe or Tamir Rice being shot while throwing snowballs and simply being a kid.
After reflecting on the death of these men, it made me ask the following questions:
Outside of these unfortunate situations, the world has been impacted significantly by a pandemic. Over 98,000 people have lost their life to the Coronavirus. According to an article published by The Washington Post, 20.5 million people became unemployed in the month of April (2020).
I could’ve finished my blog about breaking a soul tie, but I realized that people are dealing with more pertinent issues. Discussing and defining relationship goals might be a trending topic right now, but this isn’t the time to chase popularity.
There are people that have been shaken up by this pandemic and the continuous acts of police brutality.
So the question becomes, how do we apply the advice that Jesus gave to Jairus?
Advice: “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith.”
Faith Is The Result of Our Focus
We have to remember that God is in control of everything that we’re going through! God is greater than the Coronavirus, and the other pandemic that exists in our country, racism.
The New Century Version of John 1: 2-5 mentions the following:
“He was with God in the beginning. All things were made by him, and nothing was made without him. In him there was life, and that life was the light of all people. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overpowered it.”
This scripture reminds us that God is the light in our darkest moments. Although we live in a world where racism exists, we also live in a world where discrimination doesn’t possess the ability to dominate the one who created it!
It makes sense to express our anger, but we don’t have to accept it as our only response to racist activity. Don’t let the culture convince you that a private prayer is a public consent of what’s occurring in the world! We don’t have to be loud to be heard!
The Message Translation of Romans 12:21 states the following:
“Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.”
There’s nothing wrong with a peaceful protest, but we should be praying more than we are protesting. Praying keeps us connected to God, and has the ability to correct the heart of an individual that has a strong dislike for African American men and women.
Listen to how The Message Translation captures Romans 12:2
“...Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”
This scripture emphasizes the significance of our focus. Instead of conforming to the culture, we have to shift our attention to God.
Once our focus becomes fixed on God, inward transformation occurs and that's the true solution to ending racism along with the crime within our own communities. It may not be a popular approach but it’s an effective one!
Peaceful protesting has gained the attention of the world, but are we keeping the attention on us or shifting it towards God? We may have made them aware of our anger, but does it initiate a change within their heart?
As the final part of this scripture states, GOD has the ability to bring the best out of us and develop a divine level of maturity within us. God is the ONLY ONE that can transform racist thoughts into respectful ones for the people that he created in his image!
The late and great Martin Luther King stated the following: “A riot is the language of the unheard.”
You may be unheard by the world, but God hears and answers EVERY prayer elevated to him in faith! (Mark 11:24)
We also have to remember that God has the ability to turn any situation around. Listen to how the New Living Translation captures the encounter between Jesus and the daughter of Jairus:
“He went inside and asked, “Why all this commotion and weeping? The child isn’t dead; she’s only asleep.” The crowd laughed at him. But he made them all leave, and he took the girl’s father and mother and his three disciples into the room where the girl was lying. Holding her hand, he said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means “Little girl, get up!” And the girl, who was twelve years old, immediately stood up and walked around! They were overwhelmed and totally amazed.”
You may be in a dead or discomforting season right now, but God has already titled your next season, “Resurrection”.
Here’s the good news about being on the bottom: You can only ascend from here! Jesus went from the tomb to the throne, and that’s going to be your next testimony too!
Prepare for your “Talitha Koum” moment. Just because you’re down right now doesn’t mean that God doesn’t have a plan to get you back up!
Our faith is result of where we place our focus! Although we have a lot going on around us, we still have the greatest God within us.
If we revisit the story of Peter being commanded to walk on the water, he didn’t sink because of his ability to remain on the water. He ultimately sunk because of what he decided to focus on.
Listen to how the New Living Translation captures this moment:
“But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink.” (Matthew 14:30)
We can’t place our full focus on Jesus while trying to eavesdrop on the noise of the world. It’s has to be either Christ or the culture. Be cognizant of what’s going on, but don’t be consumed by it. The pandemic may have presented some difficulty in your life, but that doesn’t mean that you have to go through it in fear. When Jesus went through the wilderness, he didn’t go through it in fear.
“The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.” Jesus answered, “Scripture says, ‘A person cannot live on bread alone but on every word that God speaks.’”
(Matthew 4:3-4 GW)
Instead of focusing on what could feed him physically, he kept his focus on what would keep him fed spiritually. He understood that bread alone would leave him hungry, but he knew that the word of God would keep him full for the entire journey!
When we examine Jesus approaching the cross, it doesn’t mention him approaching it in fear.
Listen to The Passion Translation of Hebrews 12:2
“...Because his heart was focused on the joy of knowing that you would be his, he endured the agony of the cross and conquered its humiliation, and now sits exalted at the right hand of the throne of God!”
Instead of focusing on the humiliation of enduring death on the cross, he kept his focus on the joy of being elevated to the throne and having an intimate relationship with each one of us. He ultimately focused on completing his assignment more than the crucifixion on the cross.
So the question becomes...
How do we develop this mentality?
Faith and Fear Are Developed By Hearing
The New King James Version of Romans 10:17 states the following about faith:
“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
If we aren’t hearing the word of God on a consistent basis, it becomes easier for fear to make itself at home. The word fear can be defined as an unpleasant and strong emotion caused by the anticipation or awareness of danger.
This definition reveals that faith and fear are ultimately determined by what we anticipate. Let’s examine this with the God’s Word translation of Isaiah 54:17
“No weapon that has been made to be used against you will succeed. You will have an answer for anyone who accuses you. This is the inheritance of the LORD’s servants. Their victory comes from me,” declares the LORD.”
Fear makes us anticipate the anguish of the weapon formed against us, while faith shifts our focus towards having an answer for anything formed against us!
Fear leaves us intimidated by the weapons formed against us, while faith reminds us that we’ve inherited victory from God.
The only way to develop this level of faith is through hearing and studying the word of God on a steady basis. This sounds like a simplistic approach to developing your faith, but what happens when you’re reading the word and your faith is still be dominated by your fear?
We ultimately have to evaluate our spiritual space and what occupies the majority of it. If our spiritual space is dominated by fear, doubt and anxiety, that doesn’t leave a lot of room for our faith to grow.
We have to make room for what we want God to do in our lives. Listen to what Hebrews 12:1 (God’s Word Translation) says about faith:
“Since we are surrounded by so many examples ⌊of faith⌋, we must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially sin that distracts us.
In order to make room for our faith to grow, we have to eliminate anything that will stunt the growth of it. We don’t need more mustard seeds of faith, we need to make more room for it to grow. Here’s a fun fact about a mustard tree:
When it becomes fully grown, it can potentially reach of height of TWENTY FEET!
Keep this illustration in mind when you start to feel like more faith is needed in your season! Just nurture your mustard seed! Remember that one of the best nutrients is the word of God!
There’s a reason that God didn’t give us a spirit of fear. He knew that it would ultimately interfere with our faith. Faith and fear cannot reside in the same residence.
Fear presents confusion while faith provides us clarity. Our faith is based on the word of God and his instructions are clear, not confusing.
As The King James Version of 1 Corinthians 14:33 mentions:
“For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.”
When a message or instruction from God becomes confusing, that’s a sign that something else outside of him is potentially clouding your vision or influencing your decision.
This emphasizes the importance of only being cognizant of what’s going on around us instead of being consumed by it. When we become consumed with the world’s drama and cognizant of the word, we are more prone to becoming confused!
We also become more vulnerable to fear. As I mentioned earlier, our anticipation of both faith and fear are determined by what we hear. God doesn’t speak to us through the world, he speaks to us through the WORD!
So.. the final question becomes
How do I make more room for my faith?
Faith Is The Result of What We Fix
The New Living Translation of Matthew 15:13 states the following:
“Jesus replied, “Every plant not planted by my heavenly Father will be uprooted.”
This scripture emphasizes the importance of internal and intentional uprooting. Anything planted within us that wasn’t initially planted by God creates a defect in what he designed.
We also have to be intentional about our uprooting. If we aren’t intentional or deliberate about what we uproot, we may accidentally normalize the flaws within us.
This is the reason that some people accept being a toxic person instead of identifying what makes them that way, and the changes that need to be made internally.
In order to make room for our faith, we have to fix and remove anything internally that triggers fear. This process begins with doing an internal inventory. One synonym of the word inventory is list. In order to make the shift from fear to faith, we have to make a list of what occupies our spiritual space.
Being transparent for a moment, I have to admit that I’m a borderline hoarder. I’m often surprised by how much space becomes available when I get rid of items that I hardly use or that I no longer have a use for.
How many expired thoughts or behaviors are you hoarding in your internal inventory? How many of these thoughts trigger fear in your life?
How many of these behaviors are keeping you from who God wants you to be?
Faith and fear both occupy space internally, but we have to ask:
What occupies the majority of it?
That ultimately determines if we are walking by faith, worrying in fear, or going back and forth between the two. It makes sense to ask God to replace our fear with faith, but it could be more effective to ask for help with eliminating our internal "fear factors".
This emphasizes the importance of uprooting anything that God didn’t place within us. When he created us in HIS image, he planted the Holy Spirit within us not the spirit of fear. This means that any internal fear within us doesn’t belong there, and it’s our responsibility to remove it!
We have to accept the accountability that comes with what we ask for. If we are asking to live a life without fear, we have to accept the responsibility to remove the triggers and thoughts that cause it! We have to remember that the process of internal uprooting is OUR responsibility.
God will provide the resources for uprooting, but we are ultimately responsible for the removal of anything that wasn't planted by him.
It becomes difficult for God to shift us from fear to faith when we are hoarding expired thoughts and behaviors. Revisiting old behaviors and failure only delay what God wants to do in the future.
Everything that God has for you is on the other side of your fear.
God is ready to release your next blessing, but he's waiting on you to make room for it!