Over all of the commands that are given to us in the bible, the command that is most often repeated is, drum roll, DO NOT FEAR.
God knew our propensity for anxiety and worry. But does a command actually help us? When the money runs dry, when our loved ones are suffering, when ends aren’t meeting, jobs are lost and hearts are broken, how do we let go of fear and trust God in the here and now?
Ann Voskamp shares just how to do this in her book, One Thousand Gifts, “Remembering frames up gratitude. Gratitude lays out the planks of trust. I can walk the planks–from known to unknown–and know: He holds. I could walk unafraid.”
“And in counting blessings I stumbled upon the way out of fear.” – Ann Voskamp
As Psalm 9:1 says “I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.” When we look back on our lives and start to remember all of the times God has provided for us, the times He has blessed us with more than we asked for, the times He answered our heartfelt cries, has comforted us and gotten us through, we can remember his faithfulness and find gratitude. In that gratitude is where seeds of trust grow.
In the book of Joshua, we are introduced to a heroine of the most unlikely character. When a few Israelite’s snuck into Jericho to spy out the land in order to overtake it, they came across a woman named Rahab. Although Rahab’s people, the Canaanites, worshiped a pagan God, Rahab had heard of the Israelite’s and all of the miracles that God had performed in the last 40 years. She had heard the stories of their escape from Egypt, the crossing of the Red Sea, the wanderings in the wilderness, and their battle victories. In fact, her entire city was melting in fear over the Isrealites.
Although Rahab was surrounded by fear on every side and of an unknown outcome and future; fear of these strange men coming to besiege her city and fear of the punishment of treason from her own countrymen, Rahab believed in the true God, the God who performed all of the miracles she had heard about, so she stepped out in faith and helped hide and protect the spies. Rahab was not a brave human rights activist or even an upstanding citizen. Rahab was the town prostitute. But because of Rahab’s faithful acts of bravery, she radically transformed her life. Although the rest of her city was destroyed, she and her family were saved. She went on to marry an Israelite and become the Mother of Boaz, who married Ruth. She was the great Grandmother of King David, and named as a direct descendant in the lineage of Jesus Christ.
There are so many stories in the bible of it’s characters pushing through fear to step out in faith and God blessing it 100 fold with outcomes we wouldn’t have even imagined. It’s tiny David killing giant Goliath, it’s Esther standing before her King to save her people, it’s Daniel in the lion’s den unharmed, it’s Meschac and Abednigo alive in the fire, standing with Jesus. But I love that this heroine, Rahab, who was a woman considered least in society, who was looked down upon, shamed, regarded as unworthy of respect, didn’t let society or her past define her, but put her faith in God, and in doing so was able to defeat fear and rewrite her story.
When we remember the past miracles in our own lives and the miracles in history laid out to us in His Word, we are able to have gratitude for today and for the unknown because we remember just how capable, how big, and how faithful our God is.
We know that even though it seems impossible, even though we may have no idea what the future holds, that God has never left us empty handed. Whether in the valleys or on the mountain tops, He has gone before us, walked with us, and carried us. This is how we can take to heart the many commands to fear not. Remembering God’s faithfulness leads to gratitude and gratitude leads to trust and trust leads to courage.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6