Steven Furtick - It's Okay To Be Scared
"What do we do"? Now watch the answer the man of God gives the servant. He says, "Don't be afraid". Well, that's cute. Appreciate it. Thanks a lot. You know how people give you advice that makes you want to slap them? "Well, I hadn't thought of that". This is the time for well-meaning Christians to shut up a little bit. You know, "Oh, you lost your job? God will provide". That's fine in certain contexts, but sometimes… I want you to see how Elisha does this. Sometimes it's more important what we don't do than what we do do. Sometimes what I won't do in a season where I'm uncertain is even more important than what I do.
Let's follow the text. I really want to take our time. We don't have another service coming in, so we can just do this right. He said, "What shall we do"? and then the prophet said, "Don't…" The man said, "What shall we do"? and the prophet said, "Don't…" I want to ask you a question. What won't you do? In a time where so many are desperate and we're all kind of fearful… We all feel scared. If you're not scared right now, I'm scared of you. If you're not scared right now, you are some kind of evil cyborg robot come to destroy the planet, and I want you quarantined. To have flesh means to feel fear. So, while he's wondering, "What does this new world I woke up to mean and what do we do?" the prophet starts by saying, "Don't…" Maybe for you it goes like this right now: "I won't lash out at the people closest to me because of the fear I feel about what's going on outside of me". Maybe it's like that. What won't you do? What a question. Right? What do we do?
Well, the first thing you have to do is decide what you won't do. I won't make irrational stories up in my mind. I won't spend three hours reading conspiracy theories on Twitter and then ask the Lord, "Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep". You gave your soul away that day! What I won't do is spend time in the hypothetical. What I won't do. What won't you do? I would have been annoyed with the prophet. I'm just being honest. "What do we do? What's the plan, man? What do you want me to do? Do we fight them? There are so many of them. It's just me and you". And by this time, Elisha is kind of old. "You know you can't fight, so it's just me versus all of them. What do we do? What's the plan? What's the strat? What do we do? What's the deal? What do we do? What to do"? "All right. Don't be afraid". "That's not working for me right now. How do I do that? How do I don't be afraid? I'm not afraid. I'm not afraid. I'm not afraid. I'm not afraid. Still scared". She said, "I'm still scared. I know you're with me. I'm still scared. There's still something in my bedroom. I'm still 9. I'm still weak". "I've still got bills. I still have to show up at the grocery store and work. I still have a relative who's 84 years old who's starting to cough, and I wonder if I will get to see her again. I'm still scared".
So why does he say, "Don't be afraid"? Okay. I want to teach a little bit. It's almost impossible to be strategic when you're scared, so the first thing we have to do as people of faith… I use that term not to mean as optimists or people who believe in fairy tales or people who float on clouds of cotton candy through the burning seas of sulfur and suffering in this world because we know Jesus. I don't mean that kind of faith. I don't mean formulaic faith. I don't mean the answer kind of faith; I mean the better question kind of faith. What do we do? Well, what do we don't? We don't give way to despair. What good would that do? I know another thing we don't do. We don't minimize the sufferings of others. We don't do that. And how about this? We don't compare what somebody else is going through with what we're going through. We don't start running around just saying dumb stuff. Do you know what we don't do? We don't get on YouTube and comment how this is God's judgment. We don't speak about things we don't know. That's above our pay grade.
"It's the judgment of God". What? Somebody's mother died, and you want to be some kind of closet theologian, some kind of armchair, rookie, amateur theologian? Keep your day job. God is God. So I'm not going to try to be God. That's his job. Do you remember Holly's story that she preached one time? She told about these boys who were fighting. This is a good quarantine story for all of y'all who have real kids who don't have halos and harps, and all that, and they fight sometimes. Even though you pray for them, they fight sometimes. Two brothers were fighting, and the mom said, "What are y'all fighting about"? One of them had a sandwich and wouldn't cut it in half and share it. She said, "Y'all need to share. Be like Jesus. Jesus would share". The boy who had the sandwich looked at it, and he took a bite out of it and said, "You be Jesus. You can share. I'm going to take a bite". When my wife preached that message, her message was "Let God Be God". Let God be God. You be Jesus. You be humble. You be trusting. Jesus had a "nevertheless" attitude toward his relationship with his Father. He was like, "I don't want to go to the cross. I don't want to drink this cup. Nevertheless, not my will but yours be done".
So you be Jesus. But what I won't do in this situation is just as important as what I will do. The Holy Spirit is on that statement right now. Reflect on it. What won't you do? "What are we going to do"? What won't you do? I won't live in fear. I may feel fear; I won't live in it. I may experience sensations of fear. I felt my breath getting short the other day before I stood up to preach. Somebody asked me, "How long were you preaching before you stopped feeling scared"? I said, "I'm still scared…every time I preach". I was shaking before I came out here today. I know how to control my shake so you don't see it, but my hands still shake when they're in my pockets. This is important to me. Somebody is discouraged, depressed. Somebody is on the edge, and I get to preach the Word. That's important to me. I don't want to be the weak link of what God wants to give to you. I don't want to come out here and miss the mark of what God wants to say. I'm still scared, but it doesn't have to stop me.
What I'm saying is not that I won't feel fear, not that I won't have questions, not that sometimes in my mind, when I'm praying prayers, I won't pray prayers that really don't even sound like prayers. I'm praying prayers like, "Oh crap"! I'm praying prayers like, "Please, God". I'm not walking around the house all the time with my hands lifted, but I won't stop worshiping. I won't stop praising. I won't stop. That's what I won't do. I won't stop. I won't back down. I will not give in. I will not surrender. I will not give away my joy. I will not give away my peace. My peace was purchased with the blood of Christ. It's too expensive. You can't have it. It's too valuable. It's the only treasure I have. It's the only thing that moths can't eat up and thieves can't steal. I might be scared, but I'm still going to stand on the Word of the Lord. I won't bow to your statue, Nebuchadnezzar. I won't bow. Put me in a fire if you have to. Tie up my hands and throw me in a furnace. This is Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They said, "The God we serve is able to deliver us, and we know that he will, but even if he doesn't, I will not bow. The only thing the fire is going to do is burn off what you tied me up with". God said, "I'm setting you free in this season. I'm going to use the fire to set you free. I'm going to set you free from addiction. I'm going to set you free from bad priorities. I'm going to set you free from distractions".
So that's what the man said. He said, "Don't be afraid". You can feel fear. It can ride in the car, but it can't drive. I can't wait to hear testimonies on this message, because you have been letting that joker drive. You have been letting that crook, that robber, that thief, that Devil have your life and your peace and your joy. He said, "Here's what we're not going to do". He said, "Don't be afraid". Now, who says it is just as important as what is said. How many will agree? If my 14-year-old says to me, "Don't worry, Dad. God has got this," I'm like, "Eh". When my mom says it, it has more weight because of who said it. Elisha's ministry, you have to remember, was a prophetic ministry. It's not about telling the future; it's about seeing the invisible. Would you agree with me that one of the lessons God is trying to get us to learn right now…?
I'm sure there are many lessons we'll understand because of what we're going through as a society, but would you agree with me that one of the lessons he's trying to get us to learn is that sometimes what we can't see is more important than what we can see? I mean, just even thinking about it… Like, how I stood on the stage last week and preached and what was happening on the other side of what I could see was significant. At the same time, the entire economy is rocking and reeling because of an invisible virus. The Bible started to get real to me when I thought about Scriptures that used to sound good, but now they make more sense. "We wrestle not against flesh and blood but against spiritual wickedness, principalities, rulers". What he's trying to say is what we're fighting that we can see has to first be approached at the level we can't see. God is trying to show us some things today. Watch this. Not only does he tell him, "Don't be afraid…" And this is not coming from a man who has never had to face fear before. This is coming from a prophet who had to walk into a widow's house…
If you want to do a Bible study this week, if you get tired of watching Tiger King, read 2 Kings 4. This is the same guy who said, "Don't be afraid" to the servant when they were surrounded by the armies of Aram who came to lock him up because of what he could see. He had to walk into a woman's house who said, "I'm about to go into debt. My husband is dead. I have nothing to pay it with, and I have nothing in my house at all except a little oil". This prophet Elisha had the ability to see in a little bit what the woman could not see because she was looking through a different lens. A lot of us have thought of faith as being this way we manipulate God, but now we find ourselves in a season where we can't control almost anything. We can't control what's open and what's closed. We can't control, at some level, what happens in foreign markets that affects us at home, what happens in foreign places.
So, in this season of what we can't control, we have to redefine faith. I thought faith was like a lever. Picture this. When we pull the lever… You know, "Have faith. Give him a praise. When praises go up, blessings come down". It's transactional. It's like jackpot Jesus. It's like, "Yes, Lord"! Like, "I'm going to pray my kid is going to make straight A's. I'm going to pray and my headache is going to go away. I'm going to pray".
But see, faith is not a lever; faith is a lens, a way of seeing your situation. Sometimes faith changes the situation; sometimes faith changes the way you see the situation. Sometimes God changes it; sometimes he changes me. Either way, even when I don't see it, even when I don't feel it, especially when I don't see it, especially when I don't feel it, and when I don't know it… What do I do? Don't be afraid. What the prophet told the woman in 2 Kings 4 is what he's practicing in 2 Kings 6. Some of us are getting to put into practice for ourselves what we preach to others. We preach about peace. We preach about God's power. Now we get to prove that what God showed us in the light is true in the darkness, that what God showed us on the mountain is true in the valley, that what God showed us the night before is still true the next morning.