God saves his people today just as he saved the Jews from destruction 2500 years ago. This is recorded in the book of Esther (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purim). Jewish people still celebrate God’s providential actions. God’s name is never mentioned in that Old Testament book, but his control of people and events cannot be denied. The story is set in ancient Persia in about 480 B.C. during the reign of Xerxes. The king replaced his wife when she refused to parade her beauty in front of Xerxes’ gluttonous and drunken party guests. He chose a young Jewish woman named Esther after she won a nationwide beauty contest. Through Esther, God saved his people who were living in the Persian Empire at the time.
God’s Behind-the-Scenes Providence
Soon after Esther was crowned queen, Esther’s uncle Mordecai publicly insulted Haman, Xerxes second in command. So, he tricked the king into making a decree that all the Jews in the kingdom were to be killed on a certain day. But genocide wasn’t enough for Haman. He also decided to build a gallows in his front yard so he could humiliate and murder Mordecai.
But God was in control. He made it possible for Mordecai to overhear a conversation in which some members of king’s court were planning to kill Xerxes. He reported the plot to the palace officials. They promptly executed the would-be assassins. And the incident became part of the official court records.
Xerxes decided to read those records in an attempt to ease his insomnia. In God’s providence, he just happened to read how Mordecai’s intervention had saved his life. The next day, Xerxes commanded Haman to dress Mordecai in the king’s clothes and lead him through the streets on the king’s horse. He was to proclaim, “This is a man the king desires to honor.” You can imagine how Haman’s anger and hatred boiled after that. He was more determined than ever to get rid of Mordecai and all his people.
Esther was aware of the honor paid her uncle, and she knew that Haman had gotten Xerxes to decree the death of all the Jews. She planned to remedy both situations by schmoozing the king and baiting Haman into a trap. She invited her husband and Haman to dinner and served as the perfect hostess for two nights. Haman basked in the attention and felt sure it was a sign that things were finally going his way.
God Saves His People
On the third night of dining with the queen, Xerxes asked Esther how he could honor her. She requested that he stop the planned slaughter of her and her people. And, she revealed that Haman was the one who had plotted their destruction. The king left the room in a rage at how Haman had used him. While he was gone, Haman groveled at Esther’s feet pleading for mercy.
Xerxes saw Haman in the compromising position and assumed he was making advances on the queen. In an ironic twist of fate, the king sentenced Haman to be hanged on the gallows he had built to get rid or Mordecai. Xerxes allowed Esther and her uncle to warn all the Jews in the kingdom about the coming attack. As a result, the Israelites armed themselves and defeated the king’s men who attacked them. Then, in one final stroke of irony, Xerxes named Mordecai to replace Haman as his closest advisor.
I can see how God saved his people through the actions of a beautiful queen and a pagan king in this incident. Haman had planned to have all the Jewish people living in the Persian empire killed. But God worked through the actions of Esther, Mordecai, and King Xerxes to save his people. This is so important to the Jews today that they celebrate it in the annual Feast of Purim. Furthermore, the story illustrates the truth of Proverbs 21:1. “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.”
Anyone who places their faith in Jesus for salvation becomes a child of God. From that point on, God takes responsibility for our welfare. He protects and provides for us just as he did for the Jews living in Persia.
Every now and then, it is good to check to see if we need a course correction in our walk with God. If we aren’t careful, we can start to veer away from the straight and narrow way (Matthew 7:13-14). We might take a short excursion into the world to fulfill a longing, or to “have a little excitement in our lives.” Unfortunately, we enter into enemy territory whenever we compromise our convictions or become spiritual lazy. Our apathy and moral lapses can lead us farther and farther away from a walk of faith that pleases God. When that happens, we need to adjust our focus and correct our course.
A Lesson in Steering a Straight Course
I learned the value of keeping on course from my dad when I was still in elementary school. One day, I rode on the tractor with him in the field where he was planting potatoes. As proceed through the field, Daddy told me to look at how straight his rows were. Then he asked if I could guess how he kept going in such a straight line. Of course, I couldn’t guess, so he told me. Daddy pointed to a cluster of trees about half a mile away. He explained that he made the first row straight by keeping his eyes on those trees. After that, he just lined up the wheels of the tractor next to the previous row to make each furrow parallel with the last one.
His straight rows insured that irrigation water would get to all the potato plants. My dad expected to reap a good harvest because he kept his eyes on the trees in the distance while he planted the first row. (See more on the lessons I learned in potato fields in my blog “My Life as a Farmer’s Daughter”)
It’s Easy to Stray off Course
Life is a lot like planting potatoes. Every day, we make decisions that result in either staying on course or planting crooked rows. Will we compromise our standards in order to fit in with friends? Are we tempted to stretch the truth to impress someone? Or, does living a “good Christian life” seem too demanding? It is hard to do all the right things all the time—in fact, it’s impossible.
The writers of the psalms understood the difficulty of staying on course. They often cried out for help because they were in trouble. In some cases, the psalmist’s family was giving him fits. Or, he may have veered off the path by sinning. An enemy attack may have distracted him. King David describes a dangerous distraction in Psalm 124. He writes, “If it had not been the Lord who was on our side when people rose up against us, they would have swallowed us up alive” (verses 2-3). In the next two verses, he describes his troubles as raging flood waters that threaten to overwhelm him. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been there right next to David.
How to Make a Course Correction
We can wander off course because of our own actions or when we’re under attack by enemies. From experience we know how easy we can start wandering away from the straight and narrow. We fail in our self-improvement plans and break our resolutions almost as quickly as we make them. At that point, we have to change our focus. We have to steer toward God, the only reliable point of reference.
David Shows us How
In Scripture, King David provides a good example of course correction. Whenever he found himself veering away from his faith, he would cry out to God. Then, he began to focus on God. That brought him back into alignment and made it possible for him return to his walk of obedience to God. We see one of his course corrections in Psalm 124. In this passage, David vividly described his fear during an attack by angry enemies. He felt they would drown him and swallow him.
But David didn’t give up. We can see his course correction beginning in verse 6. He takes his focus off the enemies and puts them on God. He begins to praise God for enabling him to escape from the trap his enemies had laid for him. And in verse eight, he declares, “Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth. “
We can Sow Straight Rows
When we feel like our life is off course, we need to focus on God like David did. If we keep our eyes focused on the him, we will walk right down the middle of the straight and narrow way. God promises to guide us when we cry out to him. He guards us against temptations that could draw us away from our faith. And, he empowers us to obey him when we are tempted to stray. He even rescues us when we fail and then gives us the opportunity to repent and get back on course again.
Because of our sin nature, it’s easy to get off course. Any moment can bring about a dangerous distraction. But we can always make a course correction. By putting our focus back on God. As we continue to practice getting back on track, we will begin to sow straight rows that will result in a bountiful harvest of spiritual fruit (Galatians 5:22-23).
In February of 2020, national news broadcasters began to warn Americans of a possible pandemic. By April, the Corona virus had spread from one city in China to nearly every country in the world. After only a few weeks, the deaths in New York City surpassed the number killed in the 9-11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Schools, businesses, and even churches closed their doors. So, we had to stay at home, venturing out only when our food supply required it. As followers of Christ, we needed to learn how to fight fear biblically.
Even without a pandemic fear, anxiety, and panic can overwhelm a person’s mind and heart at any time. A policeman rings the doorbell and says there has been an accident. The doctor calls with the diagnosis of cancer. A spouse announces he/she wants a divorce. The boss tells an employee he has to let her go. When we face crises like these, our hearts skip a beat, and a sense of desperation invades our minds. We find it hard just to process what is going on, let alone deal with it.
Fear and Anxiety Robs Us
When we face a crisis, fear and anxiety robs us of peace and security. It leaves us feeling empty, vulnerable, and weak. But we do not have to remain fearful because God is our Father. When we prayed to ask Jesus to save us, God adopted us into his family. He made himself responsible to love and care for us. So, when a life situation terrorizes us, we should ask for his help. And, God will act in response to our prayers, just as any good father would. We can fight fear Biblically by trusting God to care for us because he has promised to and he never fails to keep his word (Numbers 23:19).
Fight Fear by Knowing God
God Cares for His Children
Crises can trigger fear and panic because they prove how little control we have over our lives. They make us realize we need help from someone much stronger and wiser than we are. In fact, we yearn for someone like God. In order to gain any comfort from him, though, we have to know why God would concern himself with our problems. We find the answer to that question in 1 Peter 5:7. “Give all your cares to God, for he cares about you” (NLT). He cares so much he gave his Son to die for us (John 3:16). As our Father, God will give us the comfort and peace we need because he loves us more than we can possibly imagine.
God is Powerful
So, God loves us, but is he strong enough to take on pandemics, financial disasters, and broken relationships? Scripture says “yes.” For instance, in Isaiah 40,the prophet describes how God created and sustains the universe. For example, in verse 20, he says, “Look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars? He [God] brings them out like an army, one after another. . . Because of his great power and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing” (NLT). Just consider how much power our sun has. Then, multiply that billions of times over. God created all the fuel burning in all stars in the universe, and he controls all of it. Taking care of our current crisis will not tax his abilities a bit.
God is Loving
However, God isn’t just powerful. He also loves his children infinitely. His compassion motivates him to use his power to meet our deepest needs. Paul stated that “Nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God” (Romans 8:39). God loved us enough to sacrifice his son Jesus for our sins, even though we were sinners in open rebellion against him (Romans 5:6-10). Nothing can touch a child of God without his permission. And, he will answer our distress calls because he loves us. To us, our trials seem overwhelming. But God turns them into tools to shape us into the image of Jesus. So, the insurmountable obstacles that make us afraid become eternal blessings from the hands of our loving Father.
Fight Fear Biblically by Knowing God’s Promises
God’s Promises Provide Hope
Knowing God cares for us and has infinite power gives us hope in a crisis. We can also fight fear by using his promises. Scripture contains hundreds of God’s promises. They are like treasures in a chest that we can draw from any time we are in a crisis. Jesus’ disciples learned this fact by experience. On the night he was betrayed, Jesus told them, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Just a few hours later, Jesus was arrested, tried, and sentenced to die on the cross. At that point, the disciples’ found themselves fighting fear, big time. In fact, they all ran and hid so the Jewish authorities couldn’t arrest them as well (John 20:19).
Only when Jesus appeared to the disciples after his resurrection did their peace of mind return. Once they saw him alive, they realized that he had kept his promise. He had overcome both the powers of Rome and the Jewish religious leaders. Even more importantly, he had conquered death. Their firsthand experience of Jesus’ overcoming power made the disciples bold and fearless witnesses for the rest of their lives.
God’s Promises Sustain and Comfort Us
As followers of Christ, we should be encouraged by the example of Jesus’ first disciples. When we encounter fearsome situations and threats, we can cling to the promise of Romans 8:28. “For those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” God may choose to sustain and comfort us in the midst of a fearful situation. Or, he may remove it altogether. In any case, we can trust that he is always in control and is acting for our best interests. God’s promises give us hope that our pain is not in vain.
God Keeps his Promises
From Scripture, we learn that God loves us and has the power and wisdom to protect us from harm. Whether God removes the source of our fear or not, our faith grows. And, we become more like Jesus. This is what the apostle James says: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2-4). God promises that the crises we encounter in life mature our faith to the point that we lack nothing. Promises like this can give us confidence and hope in difficult situations.
Another passage outlines our plan of attack when we need to fight fear. in Philippians 4:6-7, Paul writes, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” This passage instructs us to pray and thank God, even when our situation remains difficult. Then, it promises that God will give us victory and peace at the end of our battle against anxiety and worry. Since God always keeps his promises, knowing them becomes vital to our spiritual wellbeing.
Fight Fear Biblically by Using God’s Promises
Collect God’s Promises
We know that Scripture provides us with facts about God and records his many promises. But how do we put what we know into action? One thing you can do when anxiety strikes is to find Scripture that relates to the issue causing your fear. You can fight fear Biblically by writing verses and stories that relate to that issue on notecards. Whenever you become fearful, read the verses over and over again, until you feel God’s peace. Increase your stack of notecards every time you become anxious. Always Keep them on hand to use as spiritual ammunition to help you fight fear. This is what Paul had in mind when he called Scripture “The Sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17).
Personalize God’s Promises and Attributes
You can also personalize promises as prayers to God. For example, whenever you find yourself worrying or in a panic, pray something like this: “God, your Word says I should seek you and your kingdom instead of worrying about food and clothing (Matthew 6:25-33). I love and honor you as my perfect Father. Will you meet my need. Because I believe you love me and want the best for me, I submit to your wisdom in how you choose to provide for me. And I thank you in advance for what you are going to do (Philippians 4:6-7).
In addition to changing God’s promises into prayers, you will benefit by thinking about his attributes. The psalms have lots of vivid descriptions of God’s character as well as practical promises. For instance, Psalm 23 affirms God’s goodness and his concern for your welfare. It promises that he will give you what you need in this life and keep you safe. It even addresses death, the greatest fear of all. God promises each of his children a place in the “house of God forever.” When you get the truths of this one short psalm into your heart, you can weather anything. Even if the Corona virus takes your life, you will be with God for eternity because you have believed in Jesus his Son.
Any Believer Can Fight Fear Biblically
The Corona virus pandemic has made many people fearful and anxious. And, who knows what new crisis will appear next month or next year? Whatever happens, knowing the greatness of God’s love and power will help us fight fear. We can also use the promises of Scripture as weapons in the battle. And both a little child and an elderly grandparent can learn about God and recite his promises when they are afraid. Any child of God can find comfort and peace in the midst of trials and testing circumstances, because God loves us and has the power to help us. Whatever the cause of our anxiety or worry, we can fight fear biblically by trusting in our all-powerful God who loves us infinitely.
Worry. We all do it. We all hate it. And, it seems impossible to stop. But you don’t have to worry. God commands us not to worry or be anxious. For example, Jesus said, “Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on” (Matthew 6:25). This is a command of Scripture and must be obeyed. So, what has God given us to make it possible to stop worrying? How can we stop being anxious and rest in God instead?
Knowing what God is Like Stops Worry
In order to stop worrying, we have to know God. We have to embrace his sovereignty, goodness, and love. God created and controls everything. He is in charge of both atoms and stars. God directs the farmer in the field and the general on the battlefront. God can do anything he wants to do, and nothing can stop him (Daniel 4:35). That kind of power would be scary if God were not holy as well. His goodness prevents him from doing or allowing anything that could harm his children. God loves us (1 John 4:8) so he will only expose us to those things that will turn out to be good for us (Hebrews 12:11). God’s power, goodness, and love should assure us that nothing can happen in our lives that is outside his control.
A Child of God Never Needs to Worry
Children of a strong, and loving father would have no cause for worry. The fact is that anyone who belongs to God has that kind of Father. According John 1:12, a person who believes in the name of Jesus becomes a child of God. And, our perfect, loving, and powerful Father has made himself responsible for our care. He met our greatest need when he sent Jesus to die for our sins. And if God gave his Son to die for us, it seems reasonable to assume that he will supply whatever else we need (Romans 8:32). Since God is our Father, we can be as calm as a weaned child with its mother (Psalm 131:2).
God Gives His Children Anti-Worry Remedies
But we do worry, fret, and become anxious about all sorts of things. God knows all about our weakness, though. He has provided some spiritual remedies to mend our hearts and remove worry by its roots.
The Remedy of Prayer
Philippians 4:7 says we can have peace that we can’t even begin to understand. Because we are God’s children in Christ, we can ask him for anything. He can supply us with a friend or a job, food or finances, healing or endurance. God will answer our prayers according to what he considers to be best for us.
Good fathers know what will meet the most important needs of their children.
And they are not afraid to say “no” to what would ultimately hurt them. Godly fathers take great joy in giving good gifts to their kids. God knows us intimately and tailors his training for each one of us. He uses infinite wisdom in what to give or withhold. And every one of his decisions is based in his lavish love for us.
That’s why we don’t need to worry, even if God doesn’t answer right away or in the way we had in mind. That’s why we can obey Philippians 4:6. We can lift our needs to God in prayer and thank him for his wise and loving answers. If we understand what God is like and that he is our perfect father, anxiety will replace worry in time. Even if the situation remains the same, God will use delays or denials to build our faith.
The Remedy of Scripture
We must ask for God’s intervention in a worrisome situation to begin on our journey toward peace. Our request places our burden into his all-powerful hands. But we must also engage in a battle against Worry and its twin brother, Distrust. In Ephesians 6:12-18, Paul describes the Holy Spirit-empowered armor every child of God possesses. We have enough protective gear to cover our mind and heart. And we have a sword, which is the Word of God.
By using the truths and promises of the Bible, we can fight and win the battle against worry.
We worry because we believe we must take care of the problem. We assume that God either doesn’t care about our need, or he can’t come to our rescue. Both of those opinions are sinful lies. But, “if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from al unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). God will forgive us. And, did you notice that he will also purge our hearts and minds of the sins of worry and distrust.
The Remedy of Divine Power
The process of driving worry out of our hearts involves spiritual battles. But God has provided us with divine power with which to fight the lies we believe. With him, we can destroy the castle walls we run into when we try to solve our problems. God’s wisdom tears down our lofty opinion of our ability to solve the problems we face. God gives us all we need to reject the lies we believe. And, he enables us to trust him to provide for and protect us. He helps us retrain our mind so we stop trusting in our own puny resources and start trusting his power, holiness, and love. Check out 2 Corinthians 10:3-5if don’t believe me.
We Don’t Have to Worry!
We worry because we can’t solve problems. We don’t worry about knowing how to tie our shoes, but we do worry about having enough money to pay for a new pair. We don’t worry about the walls of our house crumbling in a summer rainstorm. But we do worry having enough money to pay the mortgage.
This is why God’s Word says, we should humble ourselves enough to ask for help instead of worrying. He would love for us to place all our fears and worries into his hands because he cares for us (1 Peter 5:6-7). God hears and answers our prayers for help in overcoming worry because it is basically sinful. Plus, the penalty for the sin of worry has been paid in full by Jesus’ death. In addition to telling us about God’s lavish love, the Bible also records the amazing promises he has made to us, his children. Because we are God’s children, we have his power, goodness, and love with which to fight and win the battle against worry, anxiety, and fear. God has done everything necessary to make it so we don’t have to worry.
Are you worried? As a Christ follower, you have everything you need to quit!
Nancy Leigh DeMoss has written a very helpful book on this topic: Lies Women Believe: And the Truth that Sets them Free
Within hours of the attacks on the Twin Towers in New York City, political leaders from both parties gathered on the steps of the capital building. In a crisis they reacted to the chaos of that day by encouraging American citizens to pray. The leaders of our government recommended what all of us knew: We needed a supreme being to take control of an impossible situation.
A crisis makes us look for a Savior
A call to prayer in the face of a national crisis seemed entirely appropriate. In times of personal crisis, we almost always call out for God to take control. But for some, questions arise even as they call to God for help. Does God even exist? Which one of all the gods we have heard about is real? Will God listen to us? Could he fail us, or could things get worse? If he is powerful enough to address the need?
We ask questions like these because we tend to attach human limitations to our concept of God. It’s obvious that piles of money, the most proficient doctors, and the best government leaders have limited effects in a serious crisis. That’s why we yearn for someone with supernatural abilities and resources to come to our rescue. When we find ourselves helpless to address a terrifying situation, we might question whether God will even notice what we’re going through. If he is busy elsewhere, will he notice and care about what’s going on?
Jesus revealed God’s compassion and power
Consider this incident in which Jesus demonstrated both His desire and his ability to help a person in great need.
[Jesus] went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said. “Young man, I say to you, arise.” And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother (ESV).
It would have been easy for Jesus to step aside for the funeral procession and continue on his way. He was very busy with his disciples and a large crowd of followers. But he noticed this woman in crisis. In addition to the unspeakable sorrow caused by her son’s death, she may have just become homeless. Her husband was dead, and now her son. Without a male family member to care for her, she may have lost her home and source of income. Unspeakable sorrow and fear would have consumed her as she walked behind those carrying her son’s body.
Love, Compassion and Power
But Jesus not only saw her, he acted. His love and compassion prompted him to speak words of comfort to this widow who had lost everything, including her son. Then, he stopped the funeral and commanded the dead man to get up. By issuing that order Jesus demonstrated the extent of his power. He could not only heal blind men and feed thousands. But He could also raise the dead. So, in obedience to the Creator of life, the widow’s dead son sat up and started talking. In the blink of an eye, Jesus had turned a woman’s weeping into songs of joy.
You can trust God to help you
This incident in the life of Jesus shows that any child of God can trust him in a crisis. That widow was not a relative or a neighbor. She was a stranger to Jesus. But he felt empathy for her. In the same way, when we face unspeakable sorrow and loss, he is our loving and compassionate Savior. When Jesus raised that young man from the dead, he demonstrated his power. If he can raise the dead, he can handle any crisis we face in our lives. Observing what Jesus did for this widow helps us trust him when everything is out of control in our lives. Jesus still cares for his people, and he will comfort us and meet our needs. He will express his compassion and exert his power to bring order out of our chaos, just as he did for the widow of Nain.