Are You Focused on Your Fears?

Even in the midst of fearful circumstances, focusing on the fear itself or the cause of it can hinder a positive outcome.

I’m going to approach the subject of fear in different way here than I normally would. We’re going to look at a circumstance described in history and outline points that you can apply to the fearful circumstance you are presently facing or may face in the future. The reference is out of Mt.14:26-32, and whether or not you are a believer in the historical accuracy of this account, its principles are still applicable.

Here is the description in the Amplified translation. [I prefer the Amplified for study because it gives more detail as to the meaning of the original Greek words; most translations limit the text to a “word for word” translation when many languages — such as Greek, Hebrew, Arabic — have much broader concepts included in their individual words.]

And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified and said, “It is a ghost!” And they screamed out with fright. But instantly He spoke to them, saying, Take courage! I AM! Stop being afraid! And Peter answered Him, Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water. He said, Come! So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water, and he came toward Jesus. But when he perceived and felt the strong wind, he was frightened, and as he began to sink, he cried out, Lord, save me from death! Instantly Jesus reached out His hand and caught and held him, saying to him, O you of little faith, why did you doubt? And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.

Let’s apply this situation point for point to our own fearful situations, learning from both the positive and negative responses in the story.

1. Notice Jesus’ response to the men’s fear — He “instantly spoke” when they cried out in terror, vv.26,27. Jesus, Father God’s revelation of Himself and His character to us, shows an immediate, interactive response to a cry of fear to Him.

2. Jesus told them (a) not to be afraid and (b) to be courageous, but He follows these directives with specific reason for responding fearlessly and courageously to a fearful situation.

3. The reason for having a fearless response is “I AM” was with them. This term does not hold meaning for most people now but it held clear meaning to those Jewish men. It was the name Father God spoke to Moses when He told Moses to go to Pharaoh and demand the Jews be released from slavery. Moses said, “Who shall I say is sending me?” God responded, “I AM.” This phrase in the Hebrew, as well as the Greek refers to the self-existent One, the One who exists in and of Himself, is all sufficient, in need of nothing, will always be what He will be and what He is, and hence, is faithful and true to His character and nature, and unchangeable and true to His Word. (1-footnote below)

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4. Even though in a boat in the midst of a storm, fearing for their lives, Peter’s immediate response to I AM being with him was (a) immediate courage and fearlessness, v.28, and (b) his success at participating in a miraculous act, v.29. Ponder the full extent of the change in (a) Peter’s emotions and (b) his reactions when Peter focused on the presence of I AM being with him instead of on his fearful situation.

5. Now notice what took place at the end of the story when Peter changed his focus to (a) the surrounding fearful situation and (b) his personal fears; Peter moved back out of the supernatural as soon as his focus was off of I AM and on his fearful surroundings and his feelings, v.30.

6. Jesus again reveals the heart of Father God to us, even in our failures. I point this out because so many people live with the erroneous feelings that God is constantly condemning them for each failure. Jesus did (a) identify Peter’s failure, reminding him that he should not have doubted the power/results of I AM with him, v.31, but (b) Jesus also picked Peter back up after his failure and restored him to safety, vv.31,32. Jesus did not abandon Peter in his failure or illustrate any loss of love.

Where is your focus in your present fearful situation?

If your focus is on your feelings of fear or the cause of those feelings, the feelings will control your responses in a negative way. If you change your focus to a source of true help, such as I AM, the self-sufficient and all sufficient One who is present with you and true to His character and Word, you can respond with courage and productive action, even in an overwhelmingly fearful situation.

1. John Wesley’s Notes on the Old and New Testaments for Exodus 3:14

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