And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, We came to thy brother Esau, and also he cometh to meet thee, and four hundred men with him. Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed: and he divided the people that was with him, and the flocks, and herds, and the camels, into two bands;
And said, If Esau come to the one company, and smite it, then the other company which is left shall escape. And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the LORD which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee: …
Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children (Genesis 32:6-11).
Fear is the number one faith killer and paralyzer in the world. Fear also has hampered growth and our success so far. It also has robbed peace, joy and fiery spirit in our hearts. It weakens all aspects of our lives. It stole our victory in the Lord.
Fear is the biggest, ultimate and last enemy we have to beat. It is also the toughest enemy to conquer. We have trouble beating it because it infiltrated into us and be one with us. It becomes increasingly difficult to beat if there are many kinds of fear that gripped our lives.
Fear of pain, fear of failure, fear of accident, fear of chaos, fear of death, fear of lack, fear of inadequate, fear of not feasible, fear of betrayal, fear of being lied to, fear of the dark, fear to fly, and so on, you can add your own long list of other fears.
Is there a way to overcome fear? In Jesus there is always a way, even He himself is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
In Genesis 32, the Bible tells the story of Jacob, who was facing a huge fear until it suffocated him. What kind of fear that he had to deal with? Fear of being killed by his brother, Esau. Actually, this fear was not a new enemy for Jacob. It’s an old enemy that must be faced again.
The incident began when he took his brother’s birthright, Esau. Esau was angry and wanted to kill him. Jacob ran to the house of Laban without his knowing. And … it happened two decades ago.
For twenty years Jacob avoided that fear, he didn’t resolved it directly. He thought that the fear had gone from his life, but it was just hidden deep down. As long as he didn’t have to deal with it, the fear seemed to be gone.
But when he had to face Esau again, the fear came back even in a larger scale and in a form that was much more terrifying. The longer we avoid/keep it, the more it grows.
The fear that Jacob must face at that time was much more oppressive than when he had to face it twenty years ago. Back then he was afraid that Esau would kill him, but now he’s afraid not only for himself, but also for his wife (actually wives, because there are two wives and two concubines), and their children. Those were what caused his fear grew bigger and more terrifying. It’s scary even just imagining it …
The lesson we should take note from this case is: Fear must be resolved! Never put off to defeat it! And do not try to avoid it! Instead of trying to avoid it, it’s better trying to defeat it! Remember!
Fear that is not resolved quickly will become bigger, fear that is avoided never goes away forever, just hidden temporarily to reappear in a larger scale when it is faced again. So resolve it soon! Do not put it off!
How to conquer fear? Let’s learn from Jacob:
1. Struggling with God until the nature of life is changed.
And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him. And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh.
And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed” (Genesis 32:24-28).
To defeat fear Jacob took special time to wrestle with God. Previously he had prayed to God to help him, but he felt it was not enough. He took special time to be alone, wrestled with God until he felt victorious.
It was in the struggle that God changed his name from Jacob to Israel. What does it mean? Name is the identity that shows a (nature of life) person’s nature. By changing his name means God changed his nature.
Since then, his nature changed from Jacob to Israel. Jacob means: a deceiver, while Israel means: prince of God (He will rule like God). Nature of a cheater is full of guilt and fear, while the nature of a prince of God is full of authority. Authorities conquered fear.
To defeat fear we must take special time to wrestle with God until our nature change. Until our human nature (inborn) turn into divine (like God). This change of nature is what will be the tool for us to overcome the fear.
2. Struggling with His Word until the concept of thought is changed.
Name talks about identity. Identity talks about the nature of life, also a person’s mentality (how he thinks). One would think as his identity. When God changed Jacob’s name, He said: “You are no longer Jacob (deceiver), but Israel (prince of God).”
God not only wanted to change his nature, but also his concept of thought because often the problem of fear is simply a matter of concept of thought. As long as the concept of thought has not changed, the fear will remain there.
Jacob used to live and think as a deceiver, but now he must live and think as a prince of God. Deceiver will not be able to beat fear, but the prince of God can.
To defeat fear, we have to wrestle with the Word of God, until our concept of thought change. We need to think as a child of God, as a person who has the authority to defeat fear. As long as we scare, the fear will intimidate us.
But if we changed to be brave, then the fear will afraid. All this time we were frightened by fear, but now we’re the ones who scare fear, so fear became frightened and ran away from our lives.
3. Struggling to face the fear itself until victorious
After our nature and mentality (mindset) has changed, then we have to force ourselves to face the fear itself. Jacob met his brother, Esau, even though he’s scared. But after he faced it, it turns out it wasn’t as scary as he imagined. Instead of beating, torturing, and killing Jacob, Esau hugged and kissed Jacob. Since then the fear of Esau disappeared completely from Jacob’s life.
To defeat fear we have to deal with it, rather than avoid it. When we face it, we will find that it was not as scary as we fear.
In my twenties, I attended a leadership Camp held in one of the Bible School in Salatiga for three days and two nights. We stay in a student residence located just next to the cemetery.
During my stay there, a very scary horror stories about the cemetery spread among the students. Unconsciously, fear entered into my subconscious and from that moment I was afraid when I’m alone, especially in the dark.
Returning from Salatiga, I brought home that fear. Incidentally, I slept on the second floor and the toilet is on the first floor. To go to the toilet I had to go through the dark living room because at night all the lights are turned off. Because of fear, I avoided going to the toilet in the middle of the night.
Although I could not stand it anymore, I still tried to hold it until tomorrow morning when there are others who awake from their sleep. This situation really made me feel uncomfortable until one day I decided to overcome that fear. What did I do?
At midnight when I was awaken by the urge to go to the toilet, I got up and went down, and then I went into the dark living room and deliberately did not turn on the lights. I deliberately paced back and forth there for about ten minutes, saying to my mind, “There was nothing to be scare of! So do not be afraid!”
When I felt calm I went to the toilet and finished what needed to be done there. And did you know? Since that time I have never been afraid anymore. I have overcome the fear! How? I changed my mind and faced the fear, and I won!
In this case, I believe my nature has been changed by God, so I just need to change my mind and face the fear. And it turned out, I can beat that fear easily.
That’s how to conquer fear. Good luck and be a victor!
Also read: If God is with us.