Just as the new shiny can influence us as we are making a decision, so can fear. Fear seems to have a bigger impact. After all, look at politics here in the United States. We lament and complain about the negative campaign ads that various candidates run. And you’d think they’d get the message and stop. They don’t and that’s because the negative message works – getting us to fear what the opposition might do is powerful. Therefore, the negative ads continue. They are selling fear. The one who sells it best often wins.
Fear is a powerful motivator. Fear is built in us to keep us alive. The problem with fear, though, is it can short-circuit our reason and our faith. If we choose to respond because of fear, if we let fear control us, we have a greater potential to make a bad choice. Even if we have the information we need to make the right choice, fear may cause us to ignore it. In other words, fear drives us to the wrong choice. Here’s an example:
And when you saw that Nahash the king of the Ammonites came against you, you said to me, ‘No, but a king shall reign over us,’ when the Lord your God was your king. And now behold the king whom you have chosen, for whom you have asked; behold, the Lord has set a king over you. – 1 Samuel 12:12-13, ESV
When you look back to why the Israelites wanted a king, Samuel finally gives the real reason. The Ammonites were going to war with the Israelite tribes and the Israelites were afraid. Forgotten was what God did to the Egyptian army. Forgotten was Jericho. Forgotten was Barak. Forgotten was Gideon’s 300. The Israelites wanted an earthly king to rally around in order to repel the latest threat. God was their king, but they wanted something different. He had been faithful. He was with them when they were faithful. He preserved them when they were not. However, the Israelites were scared. Because they were scared they demanded an earthly king.
When you look at the history of Israel’s kings, you see disaster. Saul was terrible. David was a man after God’s own heart but he was a horrible father and that bad parenting led to a civil war. Solomon had a successful and peaceful reign, but then his sons split the nation into two: Israel and Judah. Israel’s kings were more wicked early on and led to Israel’s destruction faster, but Judah didn’t last, either. The earthly kings the Israelites wanted eventually led to their downfall.
We all feel fear. We all know what it’s like to be consumed in its grip. As long as you live, you can experience fear. It may be over something trivial, like a spider on your computer keyboard. Or it may be over something life threatening, like trying to escape a war zone. We have to do our level best not to let fear be our master when it shows up. If you feel the tendrils of fear begin to clutch at your heart, immediately reach out to God in prayer. Ask for courage. Ask for strength. Ask for His assistance, His wisdom, and His protection. Surround yourself with friends who will let you overcome that fear in a righteous way. Don’t let fear force a bad decision. We make enough of those on our own as it is.