Retreat or Advance?

“With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall” (Psalm 18:29).

You probably know more Greek than you think.  For example, you know what a phobia is.  It is a fear of something.  Claustrophobia is the fear of enclosed places.  Acrophobia is the fear of heights.  Arachnophobia is the fear of spiders.  Here’s one for you:  hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia is the fear of long words.  Honest.  Our English word “phobia” comes from the Greek word for fear, phobosPhobos is an interesting word.  It literally means to withdraw, to turn away, or to flee.  This makes sense, doesn’t it?  When we fear a thing, we don’t want to have anything to do with it.  We avoid it.  We run from it, maybe even in a flight of panic (another meaning of phobos).

Courage is just the opposite.  Probably one of the most common images of courage is a soldier in battle.  Can you see this in your mind?  The soldier may feel fear, but he doesn’t act on his fear.  Instead, he charges the enemy.  He runs toward the very thing that is causing him to be afraid.  Courage implies a forward motion.  It progresses in the face of fear, danger, even harm.  Fear causes retreat; courage, advancement.

David is a perfect example of courage.  We all know the story of his encounter with Goliath.  Yet, if you will go back and read 1 Samuel 17 you will notice something very interesting.  David didn’t just stand his ground against the giant.  He charged him.  “As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him” (1 Samuel 17:48).  With complete faith in God, trusting in the Lord’s support and protection, David hurried towards his foe, and vanquished him completely.

We all face fearful things in life.  It may be a situation at work.  It might be a bully at school.  It could a bad relationship.  It could even be somebody at church.  Yes, fears come our way.  The question is how do we respond to them?  The easy thing is to run.  Indeed, this often seems the smart thing to do.  And for some fearful things, this is wisdom.  You should run from forest fires, avalanches and tsunamis.  (Add monsters like Godzilla, King Kong and “Them” to this list.)  But most things we fear only become more fearful, and of greater harm, when we run from them.  Panicked flight rarely accomplishes anything.

So what are you facing right now?  Today?  What is it that causes fear to arise in your heart?  What are you running from?  Then consider this question: Has avoiding that thing (or person) accomplished anything?  Probably it has only avoided the problem, and possibly made it worse.  So what should you do?  Let me offer a few suggestions:

1)  Pray about it.  Ask God for wisdom, strength and courage.

2)  Determine to face up to the problem or issue.  Advance towards the fear, not away from it.

3)  Put your trust in God.  He is your help, your shield, your protector, your constant help.

         (See Genesis 15:1, Psalm 18:2, Psalm 46:1, Psalm 91:4, Deuteronomy 33:29.)

4)  Advance towards the cause of your fear, overcoming it in the name of the Lord of hosts.

I think you will find that with God’s help you can take down a giant today.

Written by Victor Morris a long time friend of International Women’s Ministries

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