It’s a World Full of Real Danger. Here’s Why That’s Irrelevant.

Excerpt from Fearless: Free in Christ in an Age of Anxiety by Rachel Starr Thomson, Carolyn Currey, and Mercy Hope. Read another excerpt here.

When Moses chose twelve spies to go and scout out the land, they came back with an “evil report”: There were giants in the land.

Evil is an appropriate word. In English, the history of the word “evil” includes the idea of rot or corrosion. The spies’ negative, fearful focus on the giants, coupled with their general distrust of God’s heart toward them, undermined the confidence of the people.

It rotted their resolution and corroded their courage.

Two of the spies, however, responded very differently. Their names were Joshua and Caleb.

The Lord Is with Us

Overcoming fear is not about winning a mental or emotional battle. It’s not about convincing ourselves that nothing bad could ever happen to us. Instead, fear gets off the throne of our lives when fear of the LORD gets on. Bad fear isn’t dissolved in a puddle of positive thinking. It’s displaced by trust.

Joshua’s logic was simple: Yes, the land is full of giants. Yes, they are powerful and strong. But it doesn’t matter. We will be able to beat them, because the LORD is with us.

We are all given immense value by God, and we are called to put it to work. We are called to step out and take risks as we take dominion and become fruitful in the kingdom of God.

Fear will try to stop us from doing this. Fear will point out the giants in the land. It will point out the bad things that could happen and that have happened to other people. It will point out our own smallness and weakness. It will give an evil report.

The evil report won’t necessarily be inaccurate. The world is in fact full of dangers. If we risk, we might lose it all. We are small and weak. There are giants in the land.

But fear of God says, “That is all irrelevant. The relevant fact is that God is with you, and you can trust him.”

This is the central message of Joshua’s entire life.

At the end of the book of Deuteronomy, we read about his commissioning as Moses’s successor. The words Joshua himself spoke forty years earlier, “The LORD is with us; don’t be afraid!” were now spoken back to him.


After the death of Moses, Yahweh repeated this admonition to Joshua one more time:

“I will be with you, just as I was with Moses. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous . . . Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:5-6, 9)

To Joshua, the promise that Yahweh was with him was not empty words.

Joshua had been faithful over a long period of time. He had walked with God for years in a relationship that produced more and more revelation and trust. His readiness to go into the land was not a flash-in-the-pan bravado, because it was based in wholehearted devotion to Yahweh.

He and Caleb had seen Yahweh provide and protect in miraculous ways. They had heard the revelation of God’s justice, holiness, and love as given in the law. They took all this to heart.

While the rest of their generation died off because of their fear, Joshua and Caleb grew in faith. They developed a personal history with God. The idea of Yahweh’s presence became an idea with substance.

For them, “I will be with you” brought to mind years of faithfulness, displays of power, promises, and revelation of God’s character.

Through years of worship and actively seeking God’s presence, Joshua developed a fear of God that was aligned with the character of God. He feared—reverenced and honored—God. He even knew what the terror of God felt like. He had stood in the presence of fire, trumpets, and earthquakes. He had quaked in his boots at the voice of God. He had literally trembled to see and hear God.

And yet all of this grew his faith. He feared God in a way that aligned with God’s character rather than being afraid of God in a way that did not.

A Life that Transcends Fear

We too can live lives that transcend fear.

It won’t happen in an instant. As our faith grows and we choose, time after time after time, to trust in the Lord and fear him, “bad fear” will get nudged completely off the throne.

The answer to the problem of fear is counterintuitive indeed: we are set free from fear’s control when we grow in the fear of the Lord.

The message to you is exactly the same as it was to Joshua:

Don’t be afraid. Be strong and courageous, for the Lord is with you. Start where you are. Choose trust instead of fear in each situation that presents itself. Seek the presence of God. Study his character. Obey him in the little things. Grow in your faith.

Nobody starts with big faith. We all start small. It’s the choices we make along the way, the interpretations we choose and the actions we take, that grow our faith or dismantle it.

There were giants in the land when Israel approached its borders, but those giants never defeated them. Their own fear did. Forty years later, when a new generation entered the land in faith and the fear of the Lord, the giants fell.



The above is an excerpt from FEARLESS: FREE IN CHRIST IN AN AGE OF ANXIETY. We, the co-authors, are on a mission to give away 10,000 digital copies of this book absolutely free. You can pick up your copy at this link.


Photo at top by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash



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