Sunday, October 01, 2006

Facing Life

Intro.: Fear is a strange thing

  1. When I was younger, I had no problem getting onto a ferris wheel. But today, I feel much less comfortable doing so.

  2. Similarly, I used to like to fly – but I would much sooner drive than fly today.

  3. I expect that there those things you would be more than willing to say, “I would never do that again.”

  4. But sometimes things just seem to come our way that we have no control over.

  5. That is the situation that Joshua found himself in.

Read: Joshua 8:1-8


Trans:You will remember the circumstances

  1. Joshua had a stunning victory at Jericho

  2. But when the Israelites attacted Ai, they lost just as spectacularly.

  3. The cause was related to Aichan's sin – lhe had stolen property that properly belonged to God.

  4. Joshua knew that – but then he was at a total loss of how to procede.

  5. He had not control over the situation. Why bother to procede. If they were going to lose the battle, there was no reason to try again.

  6. It was a discouraging time for Joshua.

  1. Discouragement is real

    1. Joshua was discouraged. We know it, God knew it.

    2. None of us would be surprised. After such a miraculous victory in Jericho, the defeat at Ai came as quite a surprise to Joshua. It had not worked the way he planned and he was discouraged.

    3. I looked in my dictionary for the definition of discouragement – it was not very helpful. It gave three definitions:

      1. The act of discouraging another

      2. The condition of being discouraged

      3. Something or someone that discourages another

These definitions are really redundant – you need to know the meaning of the word, in order to define the word.

    1. But, being the scholar that I am, did not stop there. I also went to my thesaurus – and I did find some help there. Listen to some of the synonyms that are listed there:

      1. disheartenment

      2. dismay

      3. despair

      4. intimidation1

    2. I expect that these pretty much define the way that Joshua felt after being defeated by the residents of Ai.

    3. But it can also describe us – there will be times that discouragement can affect our behavior, our thoughts, and our feelings.

(Ill.) Someone has said, “Being positive is part of being a hero – maybe the hardest part, because if you are a hero you're smart enough to know all the reasons why you should be discouraged.”

    1. Joshua was discouraged and he still had to fight the battle of Ai.

  1. Fear is real

    1. Discouragement was not all that Joshua felt. He also felt fear.

(Ill.) When I think of the word fear, one of the images that comes to my mind are those old cartoons with Wyle E. Coyote and the Road Runner. If you remember, the Road Runner was in constant fear for his life – at the same time, he was afraid of nothing.

    1. I expect that fear effected Joshua similarly to how it would effect you and me. He was at a standstill. He wasn't moving forward, he felt confused as to the next step.

(Ill.) One well-known family doctor is convinced that the one common symptom of 90% of those who make a visit to the doctor is not an upset stomach, a cough, or even chest pain. The one symptom that most patients share when they visit their doctors is fear – fear of losing a job, fear of old age, fear of being found out. And sooner or later it comes out as a clinical symptom.

The fear itself might just be a little anxiety. Or it may be so deep seated that the patient himself or herself will deny the fear itself. But the fear's effects require that the patient visit a doctor – and have their physical problems cared for. Sometime they find relief for the physical problem, but what they face on the inside is not so easily cared for.2

    1. Somebody put it this way, “Somebody has said that ulcers are caused not by what you eat, but by what is eating you!”3 I am not sure that is a medical diagnosis – but it does get the point across.

(Appl.) Fear is a real feeling – let those who are willing to and able to talk about their fear, their anxiety, their concerns, to talk. And don't be afraid to talk about your own concerns. If the first person that you talk to doesn't respond to your feelings, talk to someone else, talk to your doctor, talk to your nurse.

  1. God understands our discouragement and our fear.

    1. Of course this is where we started – God responding to Joshua's own discouragement and fear.

    2. His words are not so much a command, but an encouragement. “You do not need to be discouraged. You do not need to be afraid. I am here.”

    3. Joshua's story suggest three stages in dealing with discouragement and fear.

      1. First, Listen to God. He understands discouragement and fear. Read the Psalms, read the gospels. God really does understand – but we have to listen to him

      2. Second, obey God. There is something very tempting about doing things our way when we are faced with discouragement and fear. But if we are listening to God, we will know what he wants. And when we know what he wants, then we need to do it as best as we are able.

      3. Finally, Trust God. You have listened to God. You have done what he has asked of you. Now we have to trust that God will see us through the difficult times. This is the hardest step. But we can wait on God and he will see us through it all.

    4. Andrae Crouch wrote a wonderful song that expresses that very thought – “Through It All4:

I’ve had many tears and sorrows,
I’ve had questions for tomorrow,
there’s been times I didn’t know right from wrong.
But in every situation,
God gave me blessed consulation,
that my trials come to only make me strong.

Through it all,
through it all,
I’ve learned to trust in Jesus,
I’ve learned to trust in God.

Conclusion: Discouragement and fear are part of life.

But God will see us through them as we depend on Him.



2Tan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : A treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers. Garland TX: Bible Communications.

3Green, M. P. (1989). Illustrations for Bilical Preaching : Over 1500 sermon illustrations arranged by topic and indexed exhaustively (Revised edition of: The expositor's illustration file.). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.


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