“Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will. People often become more committed to a familiar discomfort than they are to an unfamiliar new possibility.” Lisa Nichols
Today I want to address the issue of fear, which has so many dynamics that it would be nearly impossible to cover it all in one blog post. After meditating on the topic for this post, I referred to google to see if my initial key phrase actually made any sense. In my search I came across the acronym FUD meaning “Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt” which was a term used in the early 20th Century to describe the marketing strategy of the well-known IBM computer company. It is speculated by its first competitor, that this strategy was used by IBM’s sales team to instill disinformation in the minds of potential customers who might be considering a new competitive product.
American software developer, Eric S. Raymond wrote:
“The idea, of course, was to persuade buyers to go with safe IBM gear rather than with competitors’ equipment. This implicit coercion was traditionally accomplished by promising that Good Things would happen to people who stuck with IBM, but Dark Shadows loomed over the future of competitors’ equipment or software. After 1991 the term has become generalized to refer to any kind of disinformation used as a competitive weapon.”
I am convinced that just as it is in the natural, so it is in the spiritual realm. Isn’t it interesting how the adversary uses fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) as a competitive weapon against the children of God? He plants seeds of doubt by creating the illusion that the obstacles or setbacks that we can see are more real than the promises that God has spoken over our lives through His word. I guess he knows that in our finite human intellect, it is a lot easier to believe in the tangible (seen or proven) over the intangible (unseen or unproven). His ultimate goal is to replace our faith with FUD. If he can get us to believe that staying in the comfort or safety of what we know will protect us from unforeseen failure, then he has successfully created fear thus producing stagnation. And the enemy knows full well that that is not a spiritual environment conducive for our faith to thrive.
Trust me, I speak from years of experience in this area but I am about to tell you how I was able to conquer my fears, uncertainties and doubts.
One of my favorite writings by the Apostle Paul is found in Hebrews 11. Whenever I need a boost in my faith I go there, it never fails! He outlines the precedence of some of the greatest miracle stories in the bible to sum up faith in action, but the part that resonates most with me is verse 6 when he said:
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
So if our faith pleases God, and the absence of faith is fear, it suggests that the enemy’s plan has dual purpose! He knows that once he can get us to become doubtful of God’s promises, fearful and uncertain of the unknown, not only do we ultimately derail God’s divine plans for our lives, we also displease God by the very presence of our fear. I can guarantee that there is nothing the devil loves more than to feel like his plans have succeeded over our trust and confidence in our Heavenly Father. Let me remind you that his strategies are as old as time; he has been using FUD since the very beginning of mankind. Case and point: Adam, Eve and the apple!
I think Paul recalls the stories of all of those ancient saints to prove to us that God’s plans always prevail once we put our faith into action.
Let’s look at verse 7 and 8:
7 “By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.”
Wow! So here we have a man who in holy reverence to God builds this massive ship on dry land proclaiming to his family, neighbors and friends that a flood was coming. Now bear in mind that this floating vessel was the first of its kind back then. They knew nothing about The Titanic or Royal Caribbean’s Symphony. Additionally, their world had never experienced a flood before so I’m pretty sure to his native people, Noah looked like a walking talking lunatic! He came up against incredible opposition during the building process of this boat. I would imagine as a normal human-being although he maintained his faith, he still went back to God a few times just to verify that it was really God’s voice that he had heard. After weeks of building, with no sign of rain, he was probably tempted to give up. However, after being laughed at, scorned and ridiculed, his character beaten down and his self-esteem completely deflated, each day that he woke up to make his way down to that building site he made a conscious decision to maintain his focus on completing the work that God had entrusted to him.
Needless to say, the flood came and it not only solidified Noah’s confidence in his ability to hear God’s voice; it also reassured his faith in God’s protective and redemptive power because he and his family survived the storm and God eventually restored everything that had been destroyed. As for the mockers, sadly enough the flood proved to be dooms day for them because of their disobedience and lack of faith in a God they could not physically see.
8 “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11 And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she[b] considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12 And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.”
Now here is another phenomenon that required much faith. Here is a man that left everything that he knew to go to an unknown place under the instructions of God. Imagine leaving the comfort of your birthplace to wonder around in a strange land in hopes that you will eventually reach this never before seen “promised land”. With no map, compass or directions, travelling thousands of miles on foot, horse and donkey as a means of transportation, this scenario would’ve definitely spelt disaster and defeat for most of us living today, but not Abraham. He had tunnel vision to continue on his journey in hopes of reaching Canaan; BUT his path was by no means clear cut. It consisted of many unexpected detours, obstacles, and opposition along the way that would’ve otherwise create FUD. In the process of travelling to Canaan, he had to overcome exile, abuse, hunger, family disagreements, and the list goes on.
This is the same man whose wife, through a promise made by God, did not bare him a son until they were both well in their 80s. Now if that isn’t faith in action, I don’t know what is! And to top it all off, God later challenged Abraham to sacrifice the very son that had been promised and given to him after 80 years of waiting! Though saddened by the strong possibility that he would have to kill his own son out of obedience to God’s instructions he goes up into the mountain still believing by faith that God would provide a way out. And just in the nick of time God steps in to save Abraham’s son from death by his own father’s hands! Can you imagine what level of faith it must have taken for Abraham to come so close to killing his own son all because of His desire to obey and please God?
So in essence what Paul was telling us is that with all of what Noah and Abraham endured and still maintained their faith, then it gives us more than enough ammunition against the tactics of the enemy!
Nowadays, we are no longer restricted to a horse or a donkey with only the stars as a guide if God gives us instructions to move. The advancement of technology has given us computers, navigational systems, cars and airplanes to make the process a whole lot easier. You may say, but what about the resources needed to do what I need to do? Like Abraham, it is important to see beyond the limitations of our present circumstances, to block out all doubt and dispel the fear by activating our faith to action. Sometimes making the first step though small it might be, could very well be the step in the right direction to seeing those plans come to fruition! The resources may not be readily available yet but perhaps writing the vision will lead to the next step and then the next until God makes the provisions or the way clear for the next level.
I can attest to the fact that every time I faced an obstacle, whether it was the loss of a job, a broken relationship, a failed endeavor or a disappointment from derailed plans, God always provided a much better outcome than I could have ever planned on my own. I have seen God provide for me in the most unconventional ways. He has used people and avenues that I would least expect to come through for me during my times of need. So as time progresses, it becomes easier to handle each setback or curve ball with a degree of grace because my faith stands on the foundation of the last miracle and the one before that. I had to train my mind to interpret every single obstacle, detour or delay simply as a temporary setback for a permanent set up.
Now with that being said, I have also come to realize that sometimes our greatest battles are not the illusions (external factors) created to look like failure, rather they are delusions (internal wellbeing), battles of the mind, which is of far greater concern. Delusions are internal beliefs, that have been proven to be wrong but is still maintained by an individual. How you view yourself, those around you and the world at large can create a degree of fear, uncertainty and doubt. This kind of obstacle, in my opinion can be considered as a strong hold that requires both fasting and prayer to break free from this mindset.
It is also very important to create an environment that in conducive to growing your faith. You cannot meditate on the words of pessimistic, negative people and expect to maintain a healthy faith life. Remember the enemy also uses people’s opinions as a target to destroy your faith. Whether you are receiving those opinions directly from family, friends or foe or indirectly through various media streams, be mindful and vigilant of Satan’s craftiness. Make a conscious effort to surround yourself with those that will provide encouragement and solutions rather than ridicule and unfavorable outlooks. Feed your spirit with positive and uplifting material that flush out any thoughts of fear, uncertainty and doubt.
I encourage you today, that whatever obstacles, detours, setbacks or oppositions are staring you in the face, know that it is only an illusion to what is ahead. It is up to you to remain focused, obedient and prayerful. Remember that having faith without action is just as detrimental to our growth as having FUD. See those setbacks as an obstacle course if you may, allow each disappointment, delay, or set back to build the endurance that it takes to push past the fears of the unknown, building up your spiritual muscles and bringing you closer to the finish line. Make the first step in the direction of your desired outcome, practice patience, learn to be sensitive to God’s voice, so that you know timing, when to move and when to be still. With these components, I am confident that in due course, God will reward you for your diligence.