Fear: The Forgetting of God part 2


"If you say in your heart, 'These nations are greater than I. How can I dispossess them?' you shall not be afraid… (Deuteronomy 7:17)

Imagine yourself in the Israelite camp looking over at the Promised Land. You have heard the stories. Some of the people of the land are giants. The cities are fortified. You can imagine the kinds of thoughts going through your mind. “They’re greater than us. They’ve got fortified cities. They know the land. They’ve got the tactical advantage. We can’t do this.”

Moses begins by verbalising these thoughts. “If you say in your heart, 'These nations are greater than I. How can I dispossess them?'” His strategy highlights an important insight. Fear is intimately bound up with our thinking.

Imagine yourself at the beach with your friends. You are having a great time swimming amongst the waves without a care in the world. But then you remember the movie Jaws. Fear starts to grow. Swimming doesn’t feel as fun anymore. You realise your vulnerability. You start looking around for fins. What changed? Nothing, except for your thoughts. Fear comes from fear producing thoughts. Such thoughts must be exposed and analysed if our fear is to be fought.

Two things in particular are important for us to notice about these thoughts. First, the Israelites’ fear producing thoughts completely ignore God. 'These nations are greater than I. How can I dispossess them?' They are atheistic thoughts. They look at life through a naturalistic lens. God has been forgotten.

Second, they are not totally untrue. It was probably true that when comparing natural capabilities, the people of the land were greater than the Israelites in some aspects. But by leaving out important information (i.e. God), such thoughts are at best only half-truths. And any half-truth posing as a whole truth is a lie.

In your present struggle with fear, what thoughts are you telling yourself in your heart? In what ways does God feature in your thinking? In what ways are these thoughts half-truths posing as whole truths?

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