Spiritual Choices When Facing Pressure & Fear (Part 1)
Ng Wee Keong
We have been inundated with news about the novel coronavirus in recent weeks. We have been checking or been informed through websites, news sites or by friends daily on new infected cases, death toll, R0 rate and how to prevent ourselves from getting it. The advices range from the most practical habits like personal hygiene, to leaving a half-cut garlic in our rooms to kill the virus, to gargling our throats with salt water daily, and more.
I think facing fear is a necessary human experience whenever there is change or crisis. The first emotion we had coming out of our mother’s womb was fear! Moses had two million people demanding him to take them back to Egypt – that was a lot of pressure to face, and a lot of fear and anxiety that he experienced.
And I think that was why Jesus in the New Testament repeatedly told us NOT to fear, that perfect love drives out fear. Courage is not the absence of fear but the willingness to do what it right, in spite of fear.
In Ex 14:5-20 we read about Moses leading God’s people out of 400 years of slavery in Egypt but before them now stood the Red Sea. Pharaoh had taken 600 of his best chariots and was relentlessly chasing down the Israelites.
Here, Moses had a HUGE obstacle in front of him and great pressure behind him! We may not be a Moses, but we all have our Red Sea situations. (There was once I was late for an important meeting; I did not know what to expect at the meeting, so I was very nervous and I also felt the pressure of time behind me! I felt like I was “going to die”!)
The people were questioning Moses why he had brought them out; he should have left them alone! This was a bad situation – almost a full-on rebellion. Anxiety and fear had caused the people to not behave or think rationally. Their only thought was “we will die!”
Moses made some spiritual choices. It was not so much a case of easy or difficult choices, but SPIRITUAL choices.
1. Moses remembered God’s larger and deeper plan.
When pressure comes from behind and there is a huge obstacle or challenge ahead of us, we are prone to give in to anxiety and fear. But Moses chose to remember the larger and deeper plan of God! It is interesting that the Israelites did not remember the past when they were anxious. What about the 400 years of slavery?
2. God allowed things to get worse before it could get better! He hardened Pharaoh’s heart!
The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, so that he pursued the Israelites... (Exodus 14:8)
Why? Because the Israelites had deep NEGATIVE LEGACIES from their family of origin that God needed to break! They looked to Pharaoh in an unhealthy manner, almost like a co-dependent relationship! They hated Pharaoh, but yet they could not live without him either! There was a DEEP-SEATED dysfunctional mindset that has been built into the Israelites after 400 years of slavery. God wanted to BREAK that.
3. God wants to do a surgery on us; not to give us a painkiller!
Moses answered the people, "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today...(Exodus 14:13)
God wants to bring His people into a completely new life! So the Red Sea was a test. Hebrews 12 says God tests those He loves! This new way of life is to be completely dependent on Him day by day (later on the Israelites would have to depend on the manna God gave them daily). God is not going to plaster a broken wall with 10 coats of paint; He is going to tear down the wall and rebuild!
I remember many instances where, even though I love God, I gave in to my fear, anger, sadness and worries, and reacted in a way similar to my non-Christian old self! That is how deeply rooted the negative legacies from our family of origin is. I am not blaming my family; I am acknowledging there is still a lot of UN-Christlikeness in me that I need to change!
Perhaps remembering that ETERNITY is God’s ultimate plan for us will help us take a step back and appreciate His bigger and deeper plan.
God specialises in tearing down the old and building the new. Old wineskins still cannot contain new wine no matter what century we are living in. Even as a Christian, there are things deep inside of us to tear down and rebuild. And God may be doing that to us through whatever pressure we face.
4. Moses, as the leader, became the spiritual shock absorber for his people.
Moses was in a good place with God and exuded a spirituality that eventually commanded the respect of the people. He guided the people to go under the surgeon’s knife. Are we, as leaders, in a good place emotionally and spiritually?
Practice the daily awareness of the presence of God, and do not give in to the anxiety and panic of people around us and from within us. Remember God’s larger and deeper plan.
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Ng Wee Keong
After serving in the full time ministry for 25 years, Wee Keong stepped out on faith to seek outside employment and continue his adventure with God. He is now doing mediation work and considers his salvation, his wife and sons and his spiritual experiences the greatest gains in his life.