Fear Factor

Karol Ladd joins us to share her insights on how God can use even the fearful for His glory. We do not have to be a slave to our fear. It may never leave us, but courage is not the absence of fear, it’s what you do in spite of the fear!

I sought the LORD, and he answered me;

he delivered me from all my fears.

Psalm 34:5

            Sadly, I was the main source of entertainment in my junior high French class. It was a role I didn’t sign up for; it just happened. You see, as a blonde-haired, fair-skinned girl, my face turned the brightest most peculiar shades of red you have ever seen when I was supposed to speak in front of the other students. French class had more than its fair share of opportunities to stand in front of class and recite passages or give a speech. Boys laughed at me and called me “Red” as I walked down the hall after class. You can imagine it was incredibly painful for me to even think about showing up for class, much less having to say anything in front of my classmates.

Now, years later, I speak in front of men and women as part of my profession – go figure! How did I get here? From being that fearful little girl who prayed that God would send a snow storm so I wouldn’t have to go to class (that’s pretty big faith, praying for a snow storm when you live in Dallas, Texas) to now speaking in front of large audiences. Eventually, faith is what it took for me to face my fears and begin speaking in front of audiences. I began changing my focus and thinking about the message God had given me to give to the audience, rather than dwelling on what the audience was thinking about me. When it comes to the list of fears people commonly have, public speaking is typically one at the top of the list.

Facing an audience of people is one thing, but risking your life in facing the audience of a king is another. That’s the fear queen Esther had to face as she approached the king (uninvited) in order to save the lives of her people. Esther offers us a powerful picture of a woman who faced her fears in a wise and intentional way. We all have fears, but the question is what will we do with them? Will we allow our fears to overtake our thinking, our lives, and our relationships?  Or will we use our fears as an opportunity to trust God and move forward in courage and strength? Let’s take a look at the example Esther provides from her slightly imperfect life.

Orphaned at an early age, young Esther was raised by her uncle Mordecai. She lived in the land of Persia in approximately 470 BC under the rule and reign of King Xerxes. As exiled Jews in a foreign land, their future as a people was unpredictable. The king himself was a rather unpredictable guy. One time he held a grand banquet with all of the military leaders from Persia and Media. Princes and nobles from the provinces were all in attendance. The event continued for almost half a year with lots of bragging, drinking, and celebrating. One night, King Xerxes decided to invite his wife, Queen Vashti, to parade around for everyone to observe her beauty. When she refused to come, the king became very angry and had no other choice than to de-throne her and search for a new queen.

A beauty contest to beat all beauty contests was held to find the next queen. Many women were brought before King Xerxes, including Esther. God allowed Esther to capture the heart of the king; she soon became Queen Esther. But even being a queen had its limits. No one could approach the king’s throne unless they had been summoned by him, not even the queen herself.  Meanwhile an enemy to the Jews named Haman rose in power in the king’s court. In an interesting turn of events, Haman grew to despise Mordecai because he wouldn’t bow down to him. As a result, Haman petitioned the king to have the Jews destroyed. Esther had kept her Jewish heritage a secret until this point and now there was a decree proclaiming that the Jews were to be annihilated.

Mordecai sent a message to Esther in the palace alerting her to the situation and telling her to go before the king and plead for mercy. Now remember, Esther hadn’t been called to the king, so he could choose to have her killed simply for approaching the throne with no invitation. Courageously, Esther responded, “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16).

If I perish, I perish! Now there’s a woman who was willing to face her fears. But notice, she didn’t move ahead with a plan until she had sought the Lord’s direction and help. She didn’t just ask everyone else to pray; she diligently fasted and prayed as well. Esther devised a very wise plan. She did not run in and face the dangerous situation haphazardly. No, she carefully prepared. I tend to believe that as Esther came before the Lord with her petition, God granted her wisdom as to how to proceed in this delicate matter.

Esther gives us a great truth. As we face frightening situations, we can go to our gracious and generous Heavenly Father and seek His counsel and advice. He will give us not only comfort and courage, but He also gives us wisdom. I’m reminded of what we read from James, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do (James 1:2-8).”

Esther knew the stakes were high, so she carefully prayed, planned, and prepared to face her fearful situation. Her patience and graciousness demonstrated that in the midst of fear, faith in God prevails. Queen Esther’s slightly imperfect life gives us the opportunity to learn how to face our fears with wisdom and strength. Fear can pop into our heads and into our lives in the most surprising and unrelenting ways, but we don’t have to be a slave to fear. We can look to the Lord for courage and direction for each step forward.  What fear is God calling you to face?

A portion of this article is excerpted from Karol’s book Positive Life Principles for Women.

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]//shatteredmagazine.net/?attachment_id=2455[/author_image] [author_info]Known as the Positive Lady, Karol Ladd is the best-selling author of over 30 books including Positive Life Principles for Women and Unfailing Love. She is a gifted Bible teacher, passionate speaker, and joyfully devoted wife and mother. For daily doses of encouragement go to www.PositiveLifePrinciples.com. [/author_info] [/author]

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