Shifting From Fear to Faith
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:
Am I going to be the next hashtag or victim of a hate crime?
Is it safe to go for a jog in my neighborhood?
What‘s the protocol when or if I’m approached by the men that are called to “protect and serve”?
Is death the only time that African American men will be appreciated and acknowledged as Kings?
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.