Dealing With Fear
God gave the Israelites the wilderness experience and in the wilderness they confronted. They had to confront their own fear. There was no water. They were helpless. They’re about to perish and nobody could help them. Even Moses could not help them. As a matter of fact, no human being was able to help them, they were in the wilderness. There was no water. They were dying of thirst. What can anybody do, so they had to confront fear. I wonder if fear is the most common emotion that we have. And that is an emotion that we have to learn how to deal with. If we don’t know how to deal with fear, then our life will be very difficult and timid and we will live as a victim of fear all the time. And fear does very strange things in our lives.
So we have to learn to deal with fear. And the Israelites had to confront their own fear and overcoming fear. It’s not something that you can learn in a classroom. It’s not something that you can read about and intellectually understand it and then deal with that. Fear is something that you have to experience. You have to confront a situation where fear paralyzes you and then you see how much you are victims or you’re controlled by fear. So only through the actual experience of fear, can you deal with the fear, how you can do it. And it is the Israelites in the wilderness, the actual experience of fear and God lead them to experience the fear in those helpless situations. You know, deep inside there, a lot of things within us and you have to learn to train what’s inside of us.
We are trained to do a lot of things on the outside. We learned to make a living. We learned to sing. We learned to do a lot of things, raised children, whatever, but sometimes we don’t pay attention to what’s inside. We don’t know how to deal with what’s going on within us. There are so many things that are going on when we don’t pay attention to that and we become victims of what is going on inside of us. Sometimes we feel great, sometimes we feel down and we don’t even know why we feel good, we don’t even know, why we feel so down and how precious it is to encounter a situation where we are trained to deal with what’s going on within us. There are a lot of things buried within us and therefore we need to visit them and sometimes it just comes out without any warning.
How We Deal with Fear
All of a sudden all these emotions start coming up and you don’t know how to deal with them because you never paid attention to them. So you need to be strengthened enough to be able to handle what’s going on inside of us. Last Sunday we had a KSM, a YF meeting. YF are the people in their thirties, forties. They all have little children and they were talking about parenting and how to raise these children and all that. And all of a sudden the topic turned into sharing their pain, their hurt, their own upbringing, what kind of abuse they receive as they were young and all the hard stuff. Painful stuff came out and they probably didn’t even know or didn’t have a plan to share when they first came but once one person started sharing, everyone started sharing about their painful history, forgotten memories, buried hurts and pain.
They are still there in you. And sometimes they torment us and they take us to the dark side. Sometimes once in a while you need to sit down and think, there are things that are buried so deep within you and they control you and they affect you, but we don’t even deal with it. We just leave them. We’re too scared to deal with them. When they come up, we try to push them into the darkness and then they torment us, they make us sick. They make us not live a healthy life, not make us really good, joyful life. They are always in the back of our minds and then I think the common and the most powerful emotion is a fear. When fear is there, we cannot really function very well. We always go around it rather than dealing with it. The Israelites were not very good at handling their fear. Instead of dealing with it, they let out on Moses and scapegoated Moses. That is the easiest thing to do, scapegoating somebody or blaming somebody is the easiest thing to do, but it’s not always the best way or even good way, with your fear, you become hostile. This is what they say. Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?
What’s the point of saying that? I mean, they all know that Moses can do anything. They all know that no one can do anything. Now they are in misery, they’re scared, and then all the could do was finger point, to finger point at Moses, why did you do that? What good is it by asking that and then they tried to stone Moses.
Turn to God
That’s the natural reaction of human beings. I think that’s what human beings do all the time when they encounter fear and this I realized that these are the four steps that human beings normally go through, first, fear that creates anger, and anger creates hatred, and hatred creates violence. This is what’s happening all the time when it begins with fear that creates, anger and hatred and ultimately violence. Jedi Grandmaster Yoda, he’s my favourite. When Grace was born, she looked like Yoda, so I said to the nurse, “hey she looks like Yoda” and she was laughing, but Yoda said this, “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.” He’s a wise guy, no wonder he’s a Jedi. Instead of dealing with fear, they just let out their raw emotion and behaved as victims of fear being angry, hateful, and violent. By stoning Moses, what good is it? Temporarily, they might have relieved the pressure that comes from fear, but ultimately they will kill each other. If they stone Moses, then they would have perished right there, the results would have been worse, but Moses was different. He turned to God. He knew how to deal with fear. He turned to God and God helped them and solved their problem. I think it’s wonderful to know God. I mean, if you don’t know God, you will not turn to God even if you turn to Him, you won’t know what to do. But since Moses knew God, he knew how to turn to God and he received help from Him.
And I hope that all of you know God in an intimate way. So when a fearful situation comes to you, you know where to go, rather than being angry, hateful, and violent, you just turn to God. And I believe that God will help you. And that is really powerful faith. I hope that all of you learn that skill and then you learn to be trained to deal with fear. Then you’ll be able to overcome anything in your situation and you can try anything and then you’ll be able to do it fine. If you don’t know how to deal with your fear then you won’t be able to. You won’t be able to do anything in your life. But once you know how to deal with your fear, then you’ll be able to do almost anything. There’s nothing for you to worry about, but in life situations, sometimes a fearful situation come health problem, financial problem, job problem, relational problem. When you have children, you have a lot of issues that come up and they make you really scared, fearful. But once you know how, when you’re trained to deal with your fear, then you’ll be able to handle your life well. Otherwise, you will make mistakes of destroying your life. Because fear does very strange things. It can be scary what fear can do in your life. But once you know how to deal with fear, you’ll be able to persevere and you’ll be able to come out stronger than ever before.
Fear into Hospitality
Once I attended a roundtable discussion on black issues in Toronto, mostly black people and I was invited to participate in the discussion. And the guest speaker came from Jamaica. He grew up in a small village in Jamaica among 10 siblings. And he said, “You know, poverty was not a problem for us. Rather, poverty was our lifestyle. Life was difficult, but we were very happy.” Instead of living out his fear, he turned fear into a positive lifestyle. After all that suffering, he said he became a person wrestling not only with his own problems but rather with others’ problems. So he learned to wrestle with other people’s problems rather than focusing on his problems. He turned fear into a very positive lifestyle of helping other people. I still remember what is said during the closing worship service. This is what he said, “We are the product of hostile history, but we are going to change it from hostility to hospitality. Have you talked about hospitality before?
The Israelites learned in the wilderness, and they were trained to turn fear, not into hostility. They learned that it is not good to turn fear into hostility. That’s why they wrote this book. They wrote it so that their children may remember we made a mistake as parents and your children, I want you to hear this story so don’t make the same mistakes. We turned fear into hostility, but for you, read this story and don’t turn fear into hostility. They learned that they should not scapegoat anybody because of fear, don’t scapegoat anyone because of fear. How often we scapegoat other people, innocent, helpless victims. We scapegoat them because of our fear. We turn all our attention to those and scapegoat them. The world is teaching fear, constantly they tell you that you have to be scared. They kind of brainwash you with fear. I hope that we don’t listen to that teaching, live life not because of fear, but because of faith and love.
Turn to God
Don’t love God. Don’t believe in God because of fear. Fear of going to hell or fear of fear of punishment, believe in God because of love. We do a lot of things because of fear and they make us small and small and small. I hope that you can overcome fear and become a bigger person because you deserve that. The Israelites learned that they should turn to God as Moses did. Sometimes you feel helpless and hopeless, and fear starts rising from the depth. Don’t let fear control you and paralyze you. Don’t blame others. Don’t finger point at others. Don’t turn fear into anger and violence. Turn to God. In God, overcome your fear. Jesus said “in the world, you may have tribulation, but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.” That’s what Jesus said. He has overcome the fear.
If Jesus was filled with fear, he could not have done what he did, he was not scared of the cross. He was not scared of the fear. That’s why he told us, you want to follow me? Take up your cross. In other words, embrace your fear. Overcome it and follow me. Only then you can be my disciple. Once you overcome fear, you’ll be a different person. Just a few days ago, a Korean president was impeached. The whole country is in total mess and chaos. They are in tremendous fear. I hope that they don’t become victims of fear, they may not turn fear into hostility. I pray that they may turn fear into creative, constructive discussion, and come out of it more powerfully than ever before. My friends, there are a lot of things going on in the world, but don’t let them fear you, but be strong and courageous and turn to God. God will show you what to do.