Chipping Away at Our Fears
Robert Wurtz II
Now it happened, on a certain day, that He got into a boat with His disciples. And He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side of the lake.” And they launched out. But as they sailed He fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water, and were in jeopardy. And they came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water. And they ceased, and there was a calm. But He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and marveled, saying to one another, “Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him!” (Luke 8:22–25 NKJV)
Once Jesus said, “Let us go over to the other side,” He was utterly confident, and knew beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the ship was going to arrive at the other side even if it had to submarine it’s way to the shore. If He and the disciples had to walk the water together they were going to make it to the other side. That is how sure He was.
Yet the disciples fixed their eyes on the storm. They were placing their faith in the immediate events that were happening. The question for them was, in effect, “Are you going to believe Jesus or are you going to believe the sound of these crashing waves? Are you going to believe Jesus, or are you going to believe the sound of this howling wind?” The circumstances were chipping away at their faith and with each bit of faith they lost—fear appeared in its place.
Training in Faith, Experience, and Hope
I was on a flight from London to Kansas City in 2012 when the plane started doing all kinds of strange stuff. It seemed to be pitching and diving. It was bouncing through turbulence. At one point, the plane took a dive and some passengers yelled out in terror like a Hollywood Movie. The lady sitting beside me screamed in horror, grabbed, and clutched my arm. Yet I was calm and reassured the woman. How could I do that? Was I some super-saint version of John Wayne? Not at all.
Understand that I knew that I had been on business for God. I was returning from the New Life Conference at Rora. I had already been on a jumbo jet that was forced to land because of a bomb threat in 2008. We dumped an entire load of jet fuel over the northeastern United States and landed in Montreal. When we landed I never saw so many fire trucks and red lights. I thought I could die on that plane. They quarantined us in the terminal at 1:00 AM, emptied the plane of all its cargo onto the tarmac, brought out the bomb dogs and went through all of our carry-on luggage and the cargo. After many hours we refueled and flew over the Atlantic.
Prior to that event, I had been on flights in severe weather that frightened me so badly that I didn’t fly for the space of nine years. The time would fail to describe all of those crazy flights. Yet something was happening. I didn’t know it at the time, but It was all part of the training. It wasn’t pleasant, but God knew what I would experience later in life and He was preparing me. When that lady grabbed my arm, I knew God’s hand was upon us and that He would safely bring us through. Why? Because I had already experienced His faithfulness in many similar situations. I had been trained to trust God when the situation looks deadly. Today, I have no fear of flying at all and have crossed the Atlantic ocean by jumbo jet sixteen times.
The old and well-worn cliche says, “There can’t be a testimony without a test.” God knows what our fears are. He knows what chips away at our faith. For some, it’s fear of drowning or flying. For others, it’s fear of sickness. It could be fear that someone will break into our house. Perhaps it’s fear of violent storms like tornadoes and such or natural disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis. The common theme is fear of death itself. God wants to chip away at our fears to prepare us and train us for the challenges that lie ahead. He wants us to maintain our faith regardless of the situation.
How many people do you suppose have died on ships that sank at sea? A lot. Millions maybe? The disciples knew that many had drowned at sea even 2000 years ago. This is why they were fearful. Yet Jesus had said, “Let us go over to the other side.” They were on business with Jesus and God used the situation to show them exactly where they needed training (so to speak). After all, their lives as apostles were destined for all kinds of frightful events. Nearly all of them would eventually die as martyrs.
God Deals with Our Vulnerabilities
Sometimes we think that God takes us through situations to chasten us or to bring us to repentance—and I believe that is true. We can get so focused on keeping the sin out of our life that we think that’s the only area of our lives that God is concerned about. However, sometimes we are blind to our vulnerability to unbelief and fear. It comes out in frightful and uncertain circumstances. Paul even experienced it when he wrote, “For indeed, when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears” (2 Corinthians 7:5 NKJV). This is a major concern to God… not because He wants to chasten us for our fears, but because He wants to build our faith and chip away at our fears.
I often have to tell myself when I’m going through difficulty, “It’s all part of the training.” Who knows when God will need to make a demand on our faith in the presence of people who are crying out in terror or who are quietly paralyzed with fear. Paul took it another step based on all the drama he had experienced saying, “(…) we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Rom. 5:4-5).
I’m quite confident that the things we are enduring today are little different than when the disciples watched the ship filling up with water as the Lord slept on in peace. Some may ask, “Lord do you not care that we perish?” God was not in a panic then and He’s not in a panic now. He knows what He will do. He is in complete control. The worst thing that could have happened to the disciples is that they died and went to Heaven. But it wasn’t time for that yet. They had work to do and they needed great faith in God to accomplish it.
What happened? Jesus did as the old Gospel song says, “He calmed the troubled waters of their souls.” His objective, in great part, is to build our faith and chip away at our fears. When He is ready to take us home He will do so and it will be glorious. We will leave this tabernacle and go immediately into the welcoming presence of God. The very reason for which He died on the cross will be fully realized. But in the meanwhile, He will use what the Devil intends for our evil for something good. The events designed to chip away at our faith will be turned around to chip away at our fears.