Why are you afraid?
Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith? – Mark 4:40
3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.
4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.
5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
As most adults reach middle age, there seems to be an almost inevitable loss of muscle strength, energy, and vigor. How do you reverse the trend and strengthen your muscles? Muscles were designed to grow stronger through use. When muscles experience tension, the muscle cells will tear, repair themselves, and increase strength. In other words, if you don’t use them you lose them.
To maintain strength, it is necessary to participate in regular strength training exercises. When strength training becomes a way of life, it becomes a source of enjoyment and empowerment. You become stronger and more upbeat. Major lifestyle changes are difficult but not impossible if you are determined to keep at it and overcome the obstacles that arise. One major key to potential success is simply believing in yourself.
1 Timothy 4:8 Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.
The Father desires that we become mighty in spirit (Luke 1:80). How does the Father strengthen our spirits? The Father employs what amounts to spiritual “tension.” He uses difficult circumstances to induce spiritual tension. His exercise equipment consists of trials, troubles, difficulties, tribulations, temptations, and suffering. With the proper response, our spirits become stronger and our faith grows. He arranges the events in our lives to demonstrate our faith and spiritual strength or lack thereof in order that we may grow to maturity.
2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.
3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.
4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
To develop a mighty spirit requires a fundamental change in our lifestyles, our mindsets. It has to do with how we respond to trials.
Trials should no longer be considered dreaded obstacles to be avoided. Rather we should welcome them. This is a mental exercise. We engage our minds, our intellects and choose to consider or regard our difficulties as joyful opportunities for growth.
The Greek word translated trial or trouble is peirasmos. Peirasmos is a trial or test with an end goal. It both demonstrates where we are, and when responded to properly makes us stronger.
Difficulties are not meant to make us fall; they are meant to make us soar. They are not meant to defeat us; they are meant to be defeated. They are not meant to make us weaker; they are meant to make us stronger (Barclay).
The Greek word translated testing is dokimazo. Dokimazo means to examine and test to approve something as genuine. In the first century, when a clay plot was fired in a kiln and came through the fire unbroken, it was stamped dokimazo. It was approved.
Testing produces endurance. The Greek word translated endurance is hupomone. Hupomone is “unswerving constancy” (Barclay).
Hupomone is not simply the ability to bear things; it is the ability to turn them into greatness and into glory.” Hupomone is the quality which makes a man able, not simply to suffer things, but to vanquish them (Barclay).
REFLECT & PRAY
The great composer Beethoven became deaf before he wrote his masterpiece the 9th symphony. At its first performance, when he was finished conducting, he had to be turned around to see the ecstatic, jubilant response of the audience. Knowing he was going deaf, he said, “I will take fate by the throat; it will never bend me completely to its will” (Beethoven).
Father my faith is defective. Thank you for putting me in the situations that test me and try me so that I might become mighty in spirit.
More than once, the disciples found themselves in the midst of a terrible storm at sea (Mark 4:35-41, Matthew 8:23-27). This time it was Jesus that directed them to take the boat across the sea. He knew of course that the storm was coming. He was totally at peace and rest and actually fell asleep. When the storm came the disciples were terrified. Storms on the sea of Galilee were nothing new. And those of them that were fishermen had no doubt encountered them many times. However, this one was horrendous, and they thought they were going to die. But in this instance it was intended to test and strengthen their faith.
38 Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”
39 When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm.
40 Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
41 The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!”
The disciples had faith, but their faith was immature and defective. They had too little faith. “Faith in Messiah and fear are mutually exclusive. Therefore the disciples should not have been “timid” (NAS) or “afraid” (NIV)” (Constable).
Matthew 8:26 Jesus said to them, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!”
They had not yet come to understand that the Lord Jesus Christ was the Messiah, the incarnate, eternal Son of God. When we come to know Him and truly believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is the incarnate, eternal son of God, we should no longer be afraid.