Fear or Faith?
What to Choose in the Best of Times and the Worst of Times
Monster storms with hurricane force winds threaten homes. Massive wildfires rage across huge swaths of land with homes directly in its devastating path. Increased violent crimes plague cities and neighborhoods. Terrorists threaten to strike airliners and cities at will. Nuclear missiles are aimed at our homeland and those who possess them begin target practice to reach our shores. The economy sways and the possibility of a major financial crash looms continually on the horizon.
What response do you choose in the “worst of times?”
There was a man named Habakkuk who lived in ancient Israel in the worst of times. Crops had failed, cattle were dying, food was so scarce that the possibility of starvation was very real. But worse than all of that was the fact that the Babylonians were at the gates. A powerful and brutal enemy army was threatening to plunder the city of Jerusalem if the citizens did not surrender and allow themselves to be taken captive and dragged off to Babylon.
Habakkuk was a prophet – meaning he could hear from God about the times and seasons that were impacting Israel. So not only could he read the signs of trouble which were obvious to everyone, but he also had insight into what was coming because of his God-given gift of prophetic understanding. And he knew that the events that were about to unfold would not be good news to anyone in Israel. He wrote these words in Habakkuk 3:16b –
I must wait quietly for the day of distress, for people to arise who will invade and attack us.
Habakkuk clearly understood that invasion of Jerusalem was imminent even though others tried to say it was not so. Habakkuk was not a pessimist, he was a prophet. He knew that God was allowing these events to occur because it had been prophesied long before his time that due to Israel’s repeated disobedience and unfaithfulness to God, Jerusalem would be devastated and the people would be carried off into captivity for 70 years. So how did Habakkuk personally respond to this “worst of times” scenario? The answer can be found in the next three verses of Habakkuk 3:17 -19 -
Though the fig tree does not blossom and there is no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive fails and the fields produce no food, though the flock is cut off from the fold and there are no cattle in the stalls, yet I will [choose to] rejoice in the Lord; I will [choose to] shout in exultation in the [victorious] God of my salvation! The Lord God is my strength [my source of courage, my invincible army]; He has made my feet [steady and sure] like hinds’ feet and makes me walk [forward with spiritual confidence] on my high places [of challenge and responsibility]. (Amplified Bible)
In the midst of devastating circumstances Habakkuk said, “Yet I choose to rejoice in the Lord; I will choose to shout in exultation in the victorious God of my salvation!” This is not a “normal” human response to impending disaster. The normal response would be panic, fear and anxiety. But Habakkuk knew a spiritual secret. He knew that he could CHOOSE his own response and that choice would make all the difference.
Your will or volition is a powerful God-given tool at your disposal. Habakkuk said, “I choose to rejoice in the Lord.” Then he took it even further by saying “I will choose to shout in exultation in the victorious God of my salvation.” This response may seem strange since calamity was at Habakkuk’s door and he knew by revelation that they were going to be taken captive to Babylon. But it was a potent spiritual force that enabled Habakkuk to “walk forward with spiritual confidence on the high places of challenge and responsibility.” When a person is afraid, he cannot move forward because fear immobilizes. Habakkuk understood the power of choosing to rejoice and shout in victory when all hope seemed lost, so that he could move forward.
Habakkuk’s choices demonstrated that he knew how to “live by faith” and not based on the circumstances he was experiencing. He also seemed to think that this was the usual and customary lifestyle of one who trusted in Jehovah. He stated this in Habakkuk 2:4 –
Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith.
Living by faith is not just an “Old Testament” concept that can be discarded now that we are in New Testament times. The apostle Paul understood the importance of this spiritual secret and he referenced it in three of his Epistles. He quoted Habakkuk 2:4 in Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11, and Hebrews 10:38.
In Habakkuk’s day, living by faith was crucial to maintaining his peace in the midst of a severe crisis as well as guaranteeing his survival. In Paul’s day, living by faith was critical for him to be able to endure the incredible trials he faced in ministry and enable him to come out victoriously. And in our day – living by faith is an absolute imperative for believers to be able to stand firm and avoid falling into the grip of fear in light of what we see coming toward us.
What do we see headed our way?
If you look at the signs of the times, we can see so many of the things that Jesus prophesied about the last days - happening right now. (from Matthew 24:6-7)
- Wars and rumors of wars
- Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom
- Famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places
After giving this list of signs to watch out for, Jesus said, “All these are the beginning of sorrows.” By this statement we know that these signs mark the early part of the “end times.” Jesus also instructed His disciples to walk by faith when they saw these things happening. He said it this way, “See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end.”
How can we avoid becoming frightened when world events are becoming increasingly calamitous and pointing toward the “end of the world” biblically speaking? The answer is that we must make a decision to constantly choose FAITH over FEAR. Faith means that we place our trust completely in God for every circumstance, decision and outcome in our lives just like the prophet Habakkuk did in his day. It also means that we must refuse to allow the spirit of fear access to our thoughts and emotions. This requires an unswerving commitment. We must develop a relentless passion to know God’s Word and His character so that we can maintain a confidence in His goodness that will keep our faith firm. God’s Word reveals His character to us.
If you are confident in God’s character, you will not doubt His goodness when you are in a desperate situation. You won’t be tempted to think that God won’t provide for you or protect you. You will have an inner certainty that no matter how bad circumstances get, God will make all things work together for good according to His promise in Romans 8:28. You will be able to stand firm in the midst of war, chaos, terrorism and any other grim scenario that you may face.
The prophet Habakkuk did not doubt God’s character when he knew (prophetically) that his nation was going to be taken captive by the Babylonians. Habakkuk trusted in God’s goodness and believed that God would bring them through that difficult season. The Lord has shown me (through dreams and visions) that some difficult times are coming to our nation and we will see things that will bring much weeping. But He assured me that those who know God’s “secret place” will shine like stars in a dark night sky. In other words – those who know how to trust God and rest in Him in the midst of trouble – will be like lights to other people who can only see the darkness of the hour.
Jesus made this promise to those who go through the end time tribulations, “…he who endures to the end shall be saved.” That word translated as “saved” in this verse means: “to bring through safely, to preserve, to ensure salvation.” You will be able to endure the worst of times if you maintain an unshakable faith in God’s Word and His character. And then as you trust God will see His supernatural intervention – His preservation, protection and deliverance - in the worst of times!
So, I want to encourage you to make a serious decision for your life right now. While you are still experiencing some measure of the best of times, practice living by faith – trusting God (and not yourself, other people or your bank account) in every decision you make and every circumstance you face. Then when the worst of times arrive, you will be able to choose FAITH and resist FEAR and see the Lord bring you through every challenging scenario that you may face.