From Fear to Faith – Ps Suz Holmes

From Fear to Faith 

Ps Suz Holmes

So today I have been asked to do a workshop on fear versus faith, or turning fear into faith. And you know, looking around at the world at the moment, this is really – a really good topic. Because it’s easy to see that fear is on the rise, you know we’ve got fear of Covid, of getting sick, a fear of dying. We’ve got a fear of job loss and money issues and just the economy – full on! We’ve got the racial issues that are going off across the world; I mean that brings fear into everybody. We’ve got fear of laws that are coming into our country that make the most vulnerable feel unsafe. We’ve got fear of the future. Fear of being in lockdown again! Whose with me on that? I hate lockdowns. They’re my least favourite thing. And I could go on and on and on.

And whenever there’s fear there comes anxiety and depression, and that is on the rise across our nation and across the world. And the truth is all of this is a reality! Don’t – Don’t you agree? All of this is a reality and life is really unstable at the moment. And with all of this we could have every right to be fearful and in fact, I think the world would tell us “it’s okay to have this emotion. It’s a perfectly legit emotion to have.” BUT! As most of you will know the Bible tells us not to fear.

So, a lot of you would have heard the scriptures Matthew 6:34 “Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Philippians 4:6 “Don’t worry about anything, instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need and then don’t forget to thank Him for all that He has done.” Or 2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and a sound mind.” Or Deuteronomy 31:6 “So be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid and do not panic before them, for the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will not fail you nor abandon you.” And I could go on and on and on and on!

This is a repeated theme throughout the Bible – Do Not Fear. Because you know what, the Almighty God knew that we would constantly struggle with fear when sin entered the world. And so He repeated from beginning to end of the Bible this theme – Don’t be afraid!

So is there anyone else on this call who agrees with me, that is easier said than done? Yep – wave if you agree – yes. Yep. Easier said “do not be afraid.” So much easier said than done. So, as I was praying about this topic and asking the Lord what did He want to say to us today, what did He want to bring. I was reminded of that story of Jesus calming the water. Now it’s found in Matthew, Mark and Luke, but today I want to read to you from Mark’s version. So Mark – if you’ve got your Bibles – Mark 4 verses 35-41. “As evening came Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Let’s take the boat to the other side of the lake. So they took Jesus in the boat and started out leaving the crowds behind, although other boats followed. But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat and it began to fill with water. Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with His head on a cushion. The disciples woke Him up shouting ‘Teacher! Don’t you care that we’re gonna drown?’ When Jesus woke up He rebuked the winds and said to the waves ‘Silence. Be still.’ Suddenly the wind stopped and there was great calm. And then He asked them, ‘Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?’ The disciples were absolutely terrified. ‘Who is this Man?’ They asked each other, ‘even the wind and waves obey Him.’”

I mean such an incredible story. Can you imagine being there? I can imagine you’re in this boat. Some of them were fishermen. They’d been on the lake of Galilee many times. They knew it well, and yet it says they thought they were gonna die. The waves were so big, they were like crashing down! They’re filling the boat with water. They were terrified. The wind’s howling. Like, I’m sure they thought the boat at any minute was going to capsize. And they’d run over to Jesus, and I don’t know about you but I’m sure they were screaming at Him, they were like “WAKE UP! WAKE UP!” Like, you know, like I’m sure it wasn’t a calm moment. And Jesus wakes up and He goes “Silence. Be still.”

In one minute waves are crashing down on you, you think you’re gonna be topsized, you’re gonna drown and the next minute it’s completely calm. Completely. Just, the awe of that moment. And it says the disciples were absolutely terrified. So it’s not even like they were just in awe, they were terrified at what had happened, and amazed. Who is this Man they asked. Even the winds and waves obey Him. Who is this Man? What a question. And that is what I felt God wanted us to go deeper with today.

Who is this Man? Now we know He’s Jesus. He’s the Son of God. He’s the I-Am-who-I-Am. Who is this man? He’s one true God by many names. One true God who is a million things to us. Everything you could ever want. And not only that, but every single yearning that we can’t even define – He is the fulfilment of that. One God who introduces Himself by a multitude of names.

So that was what I heard on Monday and I just – such confirmation that we were heading, and studying what God wanted us to study today. So I realised at different times in my life, or your life, you are going to need to know a different aspect of Him. And I realised there will always be a new part of Jesus that I will discover. I realised that this is a lifetime journey of getting to know Him and what an amazing journey.

So I guess you’re asking How does this relate to our workshop today? Faith vs. Fear? Well I’m so glad you asked. Because our faith is in Someone! It’s not in the universe, it’s not in logic, it’s not in fate, or destiny, or the stars. When we’re talking about faith, we’re talking about faith in God. Faith in Jesus. And we’re talking about faith in all the different aspects and names that He has. So faith in God when His name is Almighty God. Faith in God when His name is Jesus our Saviour. Faith in God when His name is Provider. Faith in God when His name is Healer. Faith in God when His name is Maker. Faith in God when we need to know Him as Lord of Heavens Armies. So God is all this and of course, He’s so much more. He is complete, not lacking anything. All completely sufficient. And that is what His name I Am means. And it’s from this faith that our fears lose their power over us.

So, how does this work practically? So, I thought, well, the best way to tell you is how I’ve seen it work in my life, because there’s nothing like personal experience. So a lot of you would have heard my story last year about my husband who got sick, and he was terminally ill for ten years with increasing brain damage. And then when I was 39, he died. So grief took over my whole being, it’s like the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced in my life. And it was during that time that I got to know God as my Comforter, and my comfort. Jesus told us in John 14 verse 26 that He had to go back to heaven so the Holy Spirit, who was our Advocator, Helper, and Comforter could come. And in 2 Corinthians 1 verse 3 it says that God is the source of all comfort.

So the best way for me to explain this is as I sat in the Word of God, as I sat in these verses of knowing that God was my comforter, it’s kinda like that big comfy bean bag, you know the kind you sorta lean back and it just sorta encapsulates you and you‘re kinda like all nestled in. That was what it was like to just lean into the Word of God and to lean into God as my comforter and as my comfort. Like this became who He is. And as He wrapped His love and His comfort around me, like almost like a big bear hug. Slowly the pain eased away.

Now I wanna say something to you, this was not instant. Okay, this wasn’t a instant hit. Like God didn’t go ‘I will be your comforter “BOOM” you are healed from grief’. Uh uh uh, no no no no. And it’s most of the time that’s what it is. It’s this slow growth into who He is. So if you’re looking for God to be an instant pain healer of fear, majority of the time that will not be the case. For sure that is the case sometimes, He is healer. He’s amazing. But He is absolutely, at the same time, likes to take His time because – in that time, we get to know Him so well.

So I can confidently say to you God is my comforter. And as He became – the fear of grief started to fall away God the comforter became who I knew Him to be. So you see the fear was taken over by the truth of the name of God as Comforter. So that was from my past, but what about something relevant now? So being an assistant pastor during covid has been incredibly challenging. For weeks during our lockdowns, we lost the team element of our work, as a staff. And I started to feel like I had nothing to offer the team, like, everything, every decision or opinion seemed wrong and it was just a really challenging time.

And then God started to speak to my Brave Love team. Brave Love is one of the ministries that I oversee. And about Jesus being the Bread of Life. And then I heard a speaker say Jesus is the Bread and daily we need a fresh filling of Him like the manna from heaven.  And then Jesus reminded me of how Jesus taught us to pray “Give us today our daily bread.” And you know those moments, where you just have this dudududududuh. And like everything kinda makes sense all of a sudden. And it was like – that was what happened, like, all of a sudden I was like “Huhh! I get it. This Bread of Life. This daily bread. This manna from heaven.” And so oh my goodness, what a revelation! Jesus is my daily bread. And He’s what I need each day. And I can ask afresh each day for Him. He is the Bread of Life, He is from heaven and that daily I can ask for. He’s the sustenance I need to give me the strength I need. As bread fuels my body, Jesus fuels my spirit and soul.

And so at the moment I’m learning, and dwelling, and growing in my relationship with Jesus, as Jesus who calls Himself the Bread of Life. This has gone from head knowledge to heart knowledge. And again I wanna emphasise this is taking time. I’m learning to sit in this, I’m learning to daily ask Jesus “Jesus be my bread today, bring my bread from heaven. Be afresh to me today.” So I’ll continue to grow but what’s happening is the fear of being inadequate as a pastor is getting driven away as I get to know Jesus the bread of life, my daily bread.

And of course a constant one that is happened since Mark died is getting to know Jesus as Immanuel, God with us. Since Mark died, it’s been lonely and loneliness has been a constant companion. But getting to know Jesus as my Immanuel, as God with us, slowly this has become – you know – it’s just taken away that loneliness more and more. And it’s something I continue to work on. Loneliness creeps in and I will have those moments where I’m like “Okay…” and then I’m like “Jesus you’re with me. Jesus you’re with me. Be with me!” and so the fear of loneliness gets driven away because Jesus is God with me.

So here’s the truth people, we have allowed fears, or a fear, to take away a portion of our time and energy. And we’ve given fear – it’s like we’ve given fear the driver’s seat, when actually fear needs to be thrown out the window. And fear – here’s my box with fear – I better turn that the right way round – Fear. Fear, here, can look bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger as we dwell on it more and more and more. But the reality is – fear is nothing in the place of God! Fear is totally overwhelmed by who God is and His many names. Fear has absolutely nothing. It’s small, it’s insignificant. And then God in all His bigness, He just covers it and heals it because this is who God is. He is God, He is these many things. And each fear is done with when we get to know God personally in the need, and in the area that we need to know.

David needed to know God as his protector and friend, and he came to the place where he could write The Lord is my Shepard. Isaiah, umm, the Lord tells the people through the prophet Isaiah “Get to know Me as Deliverer because I promise to walk through every trial with you.” Abraham, of course, needed to know God as Provider when he was on the mountain about to sacrifice his son, and I can guarantee the fear of God not providing lost its power that day as Abraham knew God as Jehovah Jireh.

The Apostle John wrote in 1 John 4 verse 18 “Such love has no fear, for perfect love expels all fear.” If we are afraid it is for fear of punishment and that shows that we have not fully experience His perfect love. The perfect love is discovered by getting to know the full character of God. For God in His fullness is love. Now this won’t happen this side of heaven but we can give it a good try, we can continue to walk in getting to know Jesus and His each name – each name that we need destroys that fear over our life.

Who is this Man? Who is this Man that even the winds and waves obey Him? Who is this Man who calms all fear? Jeremiah 10 verse 10 says “But the Lord is the Only True God, He is the Living God, and the Everlasting King.” He is everything we need whenever we need it and the privilege is a lifetime of getting to know Him.

So we’re gonna go back into your small groups again, and what I would love for you to do is to name a fear that you have at the moment. And these small groups will be completely confidential, and then find the name of God that you need to get to know to destroy that fear. So you might be facing sickness and you need to know God as Healer. You might be facing financial hardship and you need to know God as Provider. You might be facing – umm – you might be fearful of the future and you need to know Jesus as Hope or as the Alpha and Omega. I don’t know what it is for you but believe me, there is a name, and name of God that will destroy that fear. So as you get to know Him, as you get to know that name and that personality and that character and that aspect of Jesus then that fear has absolutely no authority as God covers it.

So we’re gonna do that right now. Break up into those groups and I want you to pray for each other. Bless you guys. Thanks so much for joining us today. And I hope – I hope this has helped to destroy – and will continue to help to destroy fears over your life. I know – it’s helped me. Bless you guys.