In recent years, Americans have become engulfed in fear and have allowed those fears to override everyday concerns. Think back in recent history:
- In December of 1999, it was Y2K. The idea was that because computers were invented in the later part of the 20th century and no computer was designed to go beyond 1999, they were all going to shut down at midnight of 2000. There would be chaos all over the world. Social services would be cut off. It would be a disaster. Nothing happened.
- In December of 2001 following 9/11, there was a very real fear in American culture over Islamic terrorism. Western civilization has dealt with this fear all the way back to the 7th century AD, and it ebbs and flows all through those centuries. Sadly, we saw that fear come to fruition in a very vivid way after 9/11, a very real fear that continues to this day.
- In the fall of 2008, leading into the new year of 2009, there was a wide spread fear in American culture over the economic melt down that had occurred on September 1, 2001. First, Leman Brothers went bankrupt, followed by many other brokerage and financial institutions. An economic meltdown occurred on Wall Street and there was wide spread panic throughout the land, with people fearing they had lost all of their investments and their wealth – and many of them did lose everything.
- In December 2014, there was great fear of the Ebola virus. Do you remember how quickly it engulfed the nation and threw people into complete chaos and fear? They thought it could be the next Bubonic plague and millions might die. It didn’t happen.
- In December of 2015, once again Islamic terrorism was in the forefront of fear and unsettledness. And it’s understandable that fear would be there. After Paris and San Bernardino, Americans are more fearful than ever. This fear is based on millions of refugees who have suffered at the hands of Islamic terrorism. And that fear has swept throughout the land.
- In the first few days of 2016, the Chinese stock market began to crater, and the Dow dropped by over 1,000 points, more than any time in history. And in the middle of that, the oft-described “crazed” dictator of North Korea said they had detonated a hydrogen bomb that would make the atom bomb over Hiroshima and Nagasaki seem like a stick of dynamite.
As it appears that all the world is falling into chaos, it’s understandable that people will be overwhelmed with fear. Sometimes those fears are legitimate, sometimes they are irrational fears that end up never happening. Nevertheless, the people of faith, the followers of Jesus, are called to not live by fear, but walk by faith.
In today’s Scripture reference, Moses, the first leader of the nation of Israel, was challenging his people to resist their fears and to return to an abiding faith in the God who had provided for them. It had been 40 years since their biggest failure as a young nation. Moses was reminding them that God was about to give them a second chance to go in and claim the Promised Land. He begged them not to make the mistake they made 40 years ago. That mistake led them into a forty-year pilgrimage in the wilderness. He wanted them to learn from that experience and to be a people of faith and not of fear.
The words of Moses apply to all of us today, both as individuals and as the body of Christ. As we move through a year when fear threatens to engulf us all, we are called to be a people of faith and not fear. Isaiah 41:10 tells us, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Do you believe it? I do. Because when all is said and done, it is only through our faith in Jesus Christ that we have a chance to be victorious.