To the core of why we fear, I think, is because we don’t know if God is good.
I was watching the movie ‘The Shack’ recently. I read the book years ago and loved it. As I watched the movie, I could feel the tension of the father. His three-year-old daughter was kidnapped and killed. The last thing he wanted to do was run to God because he wasn’t sure God was good. I was reminded why I don’t run to God all the time. I wonder, is God good? I sat there watching that movie and didn’t do a good job as I tried to hold back the tears. Are you like me? Do you wonder if God is good? I know we aren’t supposed to ask questions like that in church, but isn’t that what people wonder about God?
If we knew that God was good, wouldn’t we live with joy, passion and courage most of the time? Wouldn’t we run to God, everyday? Jump into each day with hope? Not care as much about the drama of today or the fear of tomorrow?
What do you believe about God? Is He good? I think we live lives that are unsure about that. On our good days, we might believe God is good. On our bad days, we might not know, but because we attend Church, we kinda muscle through the day. We read in scripture that God is good. There are tons of awesome stories in the Bible about how God worked through people. That’s good. We know that God sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins. That’s good. We know that if we believe in Jesus, we go to heaven. That’s good. We hear that God empowers our lives. That’s good.
But bad things happen. How can God be good and allow bad things to happen? We walk through life and experience pain and struggle. How can God be good if we face pain and struggle? We wonder, is God is good? Isn’t this your real-life experience?
The apostle Paul wrote:
We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. NLT Romans 8:28-29
Paul said that God is the master of taking all the bad things that happen to us, and if we love God, He transforms them into something good. Paul did not say our lives will be pain free. There was never a promise of the North American dream of success, wealth, comfort and fun. Truth is, as we walk in this world, we will face pain and struggle because we live in a world of sin. However, God will transform our pain and struggle into something good.
The apostle John wrote:
16 God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. 17 This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day – our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. 18 There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life – fear of death, fear of judgment – is one not yet fully formed in love. MSG 1 John 4:16-18
Did you see that last verse? Love banishes fear. When I believe God is good, when I can enjoy and experience God’s love, fear begins to melt in my life. That’s why experiencing God in a personal relationship is so important. In that relationship, we experience His grace and love and validation. That’s why church and worship is so important. It’s a moment in the week when we get to stand in the presence of God with others and just worship to experience Him. That’s why having a good friend is so important-someone who will listen to you and pray for you. When you experience more of God’s love, more worship, more friendship, we experience love. That love can destroy your fear.
Put together what Paul and John wrote. When you walk through life, you will experience pain and struggle. As you give your life to God, God will take every wound and every bad thing and transform it into something good for you. And as we walk with God and get closer and closer, we will still walk through hard times, but we don’t have to walk in fear because we will experience God’s love. God is a good God.
I just want to stop here. Even though I just read to you what Paul and John wrote, do you believe that God is good? Let me ask you this way. Do you believe to the core of who you are, that God is good so much so that you rarely experience fear? Or, do you still live in fear? Are you still afraid of what will happen this week? Are you afraid of the future?
Do you see my point? We might have the right information and the right Bible verses that say God is good but, that doesn’t mean we live like we believe it. To the core of why we fear, I think, is because we don’t know if God is good. This is my struggle. I can look back in my life and know with certainty, God has protected me, God has provided for me and God has loved me. I know it. I see it in my past. But, what about today? What about tomorrow? What about money to pay bills? What about my health? What about my parent’s health? What about my girls? What about MRC? What about MRG? I know who God has been to me and what He has done for me, clear as day. But I don’t know about today or tomorrow.
Do you see what fear does? It takes every good undeniable thing of God in my past and steals it. It steals my faith in God. It steals everything I know about God. I know God is good; fear steals that. I know God has cared for me; fear steals that. I know God has protected and provided for me; fear steals that. What is scary? All of that can be stolen in less than a second. Fear steals my good undeniable experience with God. Fear steals my joy and passion and courage and makes me a coward. I know God has been good, but I wonder, will God come through for me? We wonder, Is God a good?
This is why, when the Children of Israel were freed from slavery and 45 days later they wanted to go back to slavery.
6:1 On the fifteenth day of the second month after they had left Egypt, the whole company of Israel moved on from Elim to the Wilderness of Sin which is between Elim and Sinai. 2 The whole company of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron there in the wilderness. 3 The Israelites said, “Why didn’t GOD let us die in comfort in Egypt where we had lamb stew and all the bread we could eat? You’ve brought us out into this wilderness to starve us to death, the whole company of Israel!” MSG Exodus 16:1-3
Who in their right mind would ever want to go back to slavery? Actually, if you know God has loved you and if you allow fear to steal that, you would. This isn’t a bizarre story. The Children of Israel did exactly what we do when we allow fear to steal our story with God.
When we walk in fear, all of our life becomes about us. Fear steals my good undeniable God past, ad leads my mind far away from God. I think: ‘I don’t have enough.’ ‘I am rejected’. ‘I am not validated.’ ‘I am alone.’ ‘What if everything goes bad?’ ‘God doesn’t love me.’ ‘God isn’t good.’ And when I allow fear to dominate my emotions, I think the only way to find joy is to demand control. Control of everything and everyone. Why control? Because, if God might not come through for me, I have to do it myself. Because, God might not be a good God. What does [negative] control look like?
Spouse. I demand they do what I want, when I want, how I want, or I will yell or go quiet. Which spouse are you? The one who is afraid of sharing your thoughts because you want to avoid the pain? Or the one who is quickly and easily offended with anger soon to follow? So, before we move on, to the spouse who is controlling, you are afraid aren’t you? You probably don’t know if God is good and if He will come through for you. Here me tell you, God is good. Do your marriage a favor, fall in love with God.
Hopefully, you are in a marriage that is control free and you are falling in love with who your spouse is.
Family. I demand my family be on my schedule. My older kids come for dinner when I demand they come for dinner. I am the center of my extended family, and I will decide when things happen regardless of how busy others are.
School. I demand my kids get an ‘A’, even if they don’t deserve it. I demand my kids have the right teacher I demand they get on the school team.
Sports. I demand that my kids start in the position where they score all the goals. If you take my kids out of the game and they sit too long, I will lose my ever-lovin-mind because they might miss a D-1 scholarship.
Church. I demand that everything be just the way I want, or I will take my money and leave.
Community. I demand that things go my way, or I will get vindictive, get mean, spread gossip and post awful things.
We live in fear, I think, because we don’t know if God is good. I am so excited to tell you, God is good. And I think you know God is good. I think you might be like me. If you look back into your life, you know God has protected you, provided for you and loved you. I also think, as much as God has done for you yesterday, fear is stealing your today and tomorrow. You wonder, don’t you? Is God going to come through for me today and tomorrow? Is God good?
Look at what God has done for you. Before you were created, God knew who you were and wanted to love you. Eph 1:4-5
God formed you in your mom’s belly. Ps 139:13
God sent His son to die for you. John 3:16
God sent His Holy Spirit to live in you and empower you. Luke 11:13
What more could God have done for you?
Look at your past. See what God has done for you. Write it down. God has proven His love for you, hasn’t He? Now, go live like it. Go live in courage.
Please hear me, God is good. I want to share with you one of the greatest passages of scripture that talks about God’s care of us. The imagery here is that God is a shepherd and we are the sheep He provides for and protects.
1 GOD, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing.
2 You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from.
3 True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction.
4 Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I’m not afraid when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd’s crook makes me feel secure.
5 You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies.
You revive my drooping head; my cup brims with blessing.
6 Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life.
I’m back home in the house of GOD for the rest of my life. MSG Psalms 23
Here is what I ask of you. Stop controlling. Stop living in fear.
Look at your past. See what God has done for you, and write it down. God has proven His love for you, hasn’t He? Now, go live like it. Go live in courage.