Faith Identity

“I CAN’T” Deadly Thought #5: The Stronghold of Fear

MW Editor’s Note. Mentoring Warriors welcomes guest author Travis Hall. Travis is the author of a newly released book “7 Deadly Thoughts: Conquer the Thoughts that Limit Your Life”  An excellent read on the seven lies we tend to let control our lives. This week and last, Travis walks us through two of them.

How often do you find yourself thinking, “I can’t”? I can’t get ahead in life. I can’t have a strong marriage. I can’t step up to the plate at work or in ministry. I can’t have a good relationship with my kids.

The fifth deadly thought is I Can’t, and it’s rooted in the stronghold of fear. Fear enters our lives in many different ways. There’s the fear of failure, fear of defeat, fear of the future, fear of what others think, and the fear of embarrassment or rejection, to name a few. There is also a fear that those around us will somehow see the brokenness inside of us if we let them get too close. Fear poisons the perception we have of ourselves, causing us to view adversity through a lens of defeat. This keeps us from fighting for God’s promises by convincing us, before we even try, that the fight could never be won. 

In Numbers 13 the Bible relates the story of the twelve Israelite spies returning from scouting out the Promised Land. This is the report they gave: “ . . . and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size . . . and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.’” —Numbers 13:32-33 (NASB) They felt like grasshoppers in a land of giants. This Grasshopper Syndrome causes you to view yourself as someone that’s “too” something—too small, too weak, too inexperienced, too young, too old, too poor, or too dysfunctional to ever defeat the giants that stand between you and your destiny. But the problem wasn’t with the giants in front of them. The real issue was the stronghold of fear inside of them.

Five Symptoms of Fear and God’s Antidote

 #1–Decision Paralysis

“I CAN’T afford to make the wrong decision.” Fear will cause you to suffer from what I call “decidophobia”— the fear of making decisions. But the only thing more dangerous than making the wrong decision is making no decision at all. Every time I see a dead squirrel or possum in the middle of the road, I’m reminded of the dangers of indecision. 

The good news is that God has promised to guide you in every decision. He says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; . . . ” (Psalm 32:8a NASB); and “Who are those who fear the Lord? He will show them the path they should choose” (Psalm 25:12 NLT). Don’t be afraid to make a decision. Ask God for direction. He’ll show you what to do. And when you do make a mistake, He knows how to help you get back on track and redeem it for your good. 

#2–Relational Isolation 

“I CAN’T open myself up to be hurt again.” Another tactic of fear is to get us to isolate ourselves from others. When we’ve been hurt, our natural response is to push people away and refuse to let them in—many times without even realizing it. In order to keep us from being hurt again, a stronghold of fear will cause us to unknowingly act and react in ways that sabotage our relationships. The problem is that isolation comes before devastation. 

The enemy works hard at convincing us that needing others is a sign of weakness. He tells us lies that we’re unlovable and don’t need people’s help. The truth is we do need each other. According to James 5:16, it’s not until we learn to confess our sins to each other that we’re healed. 

#3–Retreating in Defeat 

“I CAN’T win.” Afraid of failing, we develop a pattern of retreating. Instead of embracing opportunities to do something fresh and new, we run from them. We say things like, That’s too big for me … someone like me could never do that. I don’t have enough experience. I don’t know the right people. If these phrases sound familiar, it might be because the enemy convinced you to see yourself as a grasshopper. Consequently, you’ll only try things that you’ve tried before. You’ll only apply for grasshopper jobs. If you’re single, you’ll only go on grasshopper dates. Or you’ll only pursue a grasshopper education. 

Fear will keep you from seeing yourself as God sees you and will cause you to stop short of your God-given destiny.

#4–Going in Circles 

“I CAN’T move forward.” A spirit of fear will not only cause you to ditch relationships, retreat in defeat, and avoid making decisions . . . it will also make you wander around in circles, keeping you from moving forward in the good things God has planned. Again, think about the Israelites who believed the enemy was more powerful than the God Who had promised them victory. As a result, they spent the rest of their lives literally going in circles, wandering in the desert, unable to move forward. Refusing to deal with the stronghold of fear will result in many wasted years as you keep repeating the same destructive cycles. 

#5–Imposing Your Fears on Others 

Moving from “I CAN’T” to “WE CAN’T.” Left unchecked, fear will eventually expand its influence in your life and reach into the lives of others close to you. Your negative, fearful perspective will turn you into a dispenser of fear, and you will begin imposing your thinking on the people closest to you. 

For example, fear caused ten of the twelve Israelite spies to look at life through the lens of negativity. They totally ignored the miraculous signs and wonders God had performed as He delivered them from Egyptian bondage. Fear had poisoned their perception, causing them to take on the Grasshopper Syndrome. Their fear infected the others and kept a whole generation of Israelites from entering into their Promised Land. 

Are you tired of the deadly I Can’t thought constantly telling you what you can and can’t do? Are you ready to pull down the stronghold of fear? Then here’s what you need to do. Begin to WORSHIP! Yes, I said worship. Why? Because when it comes to fighting fear, worship is an incredibly powerful weapon. It’s one of the most effective ways to restore our joy and protect our peace. If you’re serious about pulling down the stronghold of fear, then shut the door, turn on your favorite worship music, lift your hands and start to worship. I’ve learned that it’s very difficult to worship and worry at the same time. 

Friend, God is for you, not against you. Whenever you find yourself afraid, cry out to Him in prayer! Worship the God of miracles. He is ready and willing to help you move forward with confidence. 

Warrior On!

Travis Hall

Travis serves as the Lead Pastor of Life Church International, a dynamic and diverse congregation in Metro Atlanta, and holds his Bachelors of Science degree in Ministry with an emphasis in Leadership/Administration from Lee University and his Masters in Ministry with an emphasis on Spiritual Formation from Richmont Graduate University. He has 18 years of ministry experience and is passionate about helping leaders start well and stay well, and helping people discover, develop and protect their God-given purpose. Travis engages weekly with a community of growing leaders on Instagram @pastortravishall and on his blog here at Travis resides in Atlanta with his wife Tina and their five children.

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