This issue of The Lookout focuses on trusting Jesus: for protection (the disciples in a storm at sea), for healing (a woman cured of a blood disorder), for salvation (nothing is more valuable than the soul), and for endurance (perseverance in suffering).
We’re not guaranteed we won’t have trouble in this world, but we can know with certainly that Christ is for us and he will carry us through any difficulties we face. This promise applies to our Christian witness as well. When Jesus delivered his final marching orders to his disciples in Matthew 28, he instructed them to “go and make disciples of all nations (v. 19). But he didn’t end with those words. He concluded, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (v. 20). Christ gave us a task and he promised to come alongside us to help us do it.
Even when sharing our faith is a priority, the task itself, the act of speaking to others on Christ’s behalf, can seem daunting—nearly overwhelming—to many disciples. Most of us don’t struggle with the desire to share our faith with our non-Christian friends. We want them to know the truth that sets people free. Instead, we struggle with personal barriers like inadequacy and fear. We lack confidence. We feel ill-prepared. We’re afraid we’ll say the wrong thing or won’t have answers to the questions we’re asked.
If you’ve ever felt this way, you’re in good company. So how can we overcome these fears? Knowledge is one key. The more we study Scripture and the more confident we become in the truths we believe, the easier it is to share those truths with others.
But there is another key we must not overlook: trust. We trust that if God has called us to be his witnesses (see Acts 1:8), he will be with us in the process. That’s not to say he’ll make us smarter or more eloquent. It’s simply a reminder that he can bless even the feeblest effort performed for his glory. When we speak for Christ, even as we struggle with uncertainty and fear, we can trust that God will take our meager offering and do with it what only he can do.
The book of Ezra contains an account of an obedient group of Jewish people who carried out God’s will despite their fear. They had been conquered and deported by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon (see 2 Chronicles 36:15-20). Seventy years later, under the reign of Cyrus of Persia, they were permitted to return to their homeland to rebuild God’s temple (vv. 21-23).
But even with the support of the king, the people struggled with fear as they began the rebuilding process. Ezra 3:1-3 states,
When the seventh month came and the Israelites had settled in their towns, the people assembled together as one in Jerusalem. Then Joshua son of Jozadak and his fellow priests and Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and his associates began to build the altar of the God of Israel to sacrifice burnt offerings on it, in accordance with what is written in the Law of Moses the man of God. Despite their fear of the peoples around them, they built the altar on its foundation and sacrificed burnt offerings on it to the Lord, both the morning and evening sacrifices.
Did you notice the phrase, “Despite their fear of the peoples around them”? The Jewish remnant wrestled with fear. I don’t suppose they ever quit being afraid. But their desire to obey God was greater than their fear.
That’s how it is with us. Sometimes the fear doesn’t go away. But as long as our sense of obedience is greater than our sense of fear, we continue to do what God has called us to do. Someone said, “Courage is nothing more than fear that has said its prayers.”
The next time you feel fear keeping you from sharing your faith, remember the words of the apostle Paul: “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7, ESV).
Share your faith. Tell your story. Even when you’re afraid. Then trust God to take your effort and do with it what only he can do.