Fear, Doubt, and Sadness are emotional giants we face in life. They are daunting opponents. They cast gloomy shadows.
- Fear threatens us.
- Doubt makes our way unsteady.
- Sadness puts an ache in our hearts.
When Fear, Doubt, and Sadness pound on the door, we cringe. When they step over the threshold, we know it is going to be a difficult day.
John Bunyan knew what it was like to face this fearsome threesome. In 1661 he was imprisoned for preaching the gospel. This first imprisonment (there would be two) left him separated from his wife and children.
It was easy for me to pass off eleven years without much thought until I did the calculation in days. Eleven years is just over 4,000 days. Think about that. Bunyan's incarceration left him with:
- 4,000 days to ponder the unthinkable.
- 4,000 days to wonder about God's deliverance.
- 4,000 days to tend to his grief.
John Bunyan stood under the menacing shadow of Fear, Doubt, and Sadness for 4,000 days, but he never gave in. He wrote The Pilgrim's Progress while he was sitting in jail. Considered the greatest Christian allegory of all time, some suggest that it is the second only to the Bible as the best-selling book ever. So much for getting beaten down by tough times.
Bunyan also wrote, Grace Abounding To The Chief Of Sinners while in prison. In that book he says,
Bunyan faced his giants, but he did not surrender to them. The terrible trinity -- Fear, Doubt, and Sadness -- landed with a dead thump at his feet. The "head of Goliath” once again serving as the comforting assurance that God did not and would not forsake him.
How can I become more like John Bunyan? How can I overcome fears, doubts, and periods of sadness that threaten to disrupt my life?
I learn Bunyan's secret when, like him, I return to the story of David and Goliath. Standing toe-to-toe with the giant, David said:
This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give you into our hand." 1 Samuel 17:46-47 ESV
Here's what David learned. Here's what Bunyan learned. Here's what I must learn:
Like David I must still step out onto the battlefield. I must still stand toe-to-toe with the tough stuff in life, but ultimately it is God who is going to drop the giant at my feet.
David's secret ... Bunyan's secret ... my so-called-secret is letting the LORD fight the battle. What does this look like? I see four things:
- Believing "God is bigger than that."
No matter how big my giant in life, "God is bigger than that." David believed that. Bunyan believed that. I must believe it too.
- Desiring God's glory more than my glory.
If I take down my giants then I can gloat: "Look at me! Look what I did!" David never operated that way. David's passion was "that all the earth may know there is a God in Israel . . . that the LORD saves." Lord, give me that passion!
- Resting in God's faithfulness.
David said, "the LORD will deliver you," the LORD saves," "the battle is the LORD's." David's confidence was in God's ability to deliver him. He rested in that. No matter my challenge today, I must depend on God to come through.
- Stepping onto the battlefield.
Knowing the battle is the Lord's does not mean that I can stay home and sit on the couch. David teaches me that I still must step into the arena. I still have to face down the giant. I still have to pick up my sling and stones. But I do this standing under shadow of the Almighty God.
Roaming giants may threaten -- but they will never overthrow -- those who know the battle belongs to the LORD. David knew this. Bunyan knew it. We must know it too.
What giant are you facing today? God is bigger than that!
 John Bunyan, Grace Abounding To The Chief of Sinners, page 275.