by Tad Lindley
Did you ever invite people for a steambath and they assured you they would be there? After you turned on the stove you did the math and precisely calculated the time it would be ready. You even sent them a text message informing them the ETF (estimated time of first pour). And from there on out it was radio silence. Well it happened to me again. Half the guests on the guest list were no shows. I suppose that I could have gotten carried away with outlandish speculations as to why they failed to show up, such as flat tire, or somebody snuck into their house and stole the cell phone and they never received the text message, but I prefer to go with the most parsimonious explanation: they succumbed to a spirit of fear and chose to spend their evening in a less thermally aggressive environment.
When the spirit of fear hits a man
There is perhaps no better description of fear than what we read in Daniel 5:6: Then the king’s countenance changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his hips were loosened and his knees knocked against each other. Let me break this down. His “countenance changed” indicates that people could see in the expression of his face that fear had gripped him. “His thoughts troubled him.” I could dwell for a long time on this facet of fear. After all our mind is where fear dominates us, whether it is in the steambath, or whether we are wondering why someone we love has stopped answering our calls. It consumes our thought life, and cripples us. “The joints of his hips were loosened.” Some Bible translations describe this as the king losing control of his bowels due to the grip of fear. “And his knees knocked against each other.” Either through anger or through fear most of us have experienced this physical manifestation of the emotion.
I’m not trying to scare you, but fear kills
Jesus actually forewarned of a time when fear would kill men. In Luke 21:26 he is describing the end of time. One of the signs that he gives is men’s hearts failing them for fear. In case you haven’t noticed, people all around you are being scared to death. One of the leading causes of death in the United States is heart disease, and one of the major factors in causing heart disease is fear. Typically the researchers use the word “stress”, but stress is just a neverending low-level fear that follows you to bed at night and is there waiting for you when you wake up in the morning? And it is claiming the lives of hundreds of thousands, one fearful thought at a time.
Worse than a heart attack
The eternal consequence of fear is actually much worse than death by heart attack. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. (Revelation 21:7-8) We cannot be saved if we allow our lives to be given over to a spirit of fear. What then should we do?
Delivered from fear
Fear is a belief that the situations in your life are bigger than God is. Fear says, “There is no way that God can rescue you from ________.” You fill in the blank. Fear says, “This situation is so impossible that you will never escape it; not even God can help you.” In the steambath we are taught to calm ourselves down, because the fear of heat is largely psychological. In other areas of our life, when we experience fear, we need to calm down and focus on Jesus. Our God is bigger than any situation that the world can throw at us.
Case in point
In Psalm 23:4 (NIV), David, a man whose father-in-law was trying to kill him, whose son took his throne and slept with his wives, who had faced giants and wild animals, wrote these words:
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
He understood that no matter how intense the heat, no matter how great the giant, no matter how grievous our past sin, that there is a God who is much bigger, and that if we will permit him, he will comfort us in times where other men curse with their mouths and cower behind their fears.
No matter how hot it gets
No matter how painful life gets, no matter how hot the trial, God can see you through. Yes, you may roll around on the floor and shout, “Hah-hah-hah!”, but through the power of God you can endure without fear. No trial has overtaken you that is not faced by others. And God is faithful: He will not let you be tried beyond what you are able to bear, but with the trial will also provide a way out so that you may be able to endure it. (I Corinthians 10:13 NET)
Tad Lindley is a minister at the United Pentecostal Church in Bethel, Alaska.