Why are we so afraid of change? I find this to be an interesting question mostly because of the irony of change. The irony: we are always hoping for things to get better, which suggests that we are looking for a change from where we are, but at the very same time, we are terrified of change. Why are we that way? Why are we so fearful about change?
The interesting thing about this, as genuine believers, is that we are always praying to God for our next blessing and for things to be better. Yet, when God begins to do His work, we become terrified of the changes as we go down the changed path towards the blessing! I want to take a look at our fear of change today and speak to why we should not fear the change that God is in control of.
The Change For Israel
Now I choose this scripture to be my key verse from Isaiah 43.
In this scripture, I want you to understand that the Lord was talking to the nation of Israel. As I have been reminding you over the past few weeks, the nation of Israel was a divided nation at this point in time. Not only was the nation of Israel divided at the time, but they were fully turned to sin.
Because of their sin, the northern kingdom was conquered, taken captive, and scattered by the Assyrians. This same thing happened in the south except they were conquered, taken captive, and scattered by the Babylonians. During this time in captivity, we see the Lord saying to the Israelites, “Don’t you be hung up on the past things I did to free your forefathers from their bondage because I am going to do something new.”
As I have studied this, I have learned that God wanted to put a new song in the mouths and hearts of the children of Israel. You see, the Israelites had been hearing about what the Lord had done for their forefathers for hundreds. However, faith in what God could do had begun to fade over the years. So, the Lord was saying He would do something new so that their faith could be strengthened, and also so that they could have a new testimony to share.
The goal for God was to redeem the nation of Israel. To redeem them He changed their scenery, but He also put a change in their heart. They would eventually return to Jerusalem and the Lord would later send to them His only begotten Son. As you know, His Son not only redeemed them but He redeemed the world.
A not so easy change
I imagine someone smart would point out that they had to go through captivity first. Certainly nothing sounds wonderful about that! Yet, I find that this to be a good illustration for how change works. We often send up our prayers to the Lord, asking for our blessings and for things to simply be better, yet we find that most blessings don’t come easy.
For example, we pray for a new car, but we still have to go out and work for the car – it does not fall into our lap! We pray for a new house, but we still have to work and save up for that new house – it does not fall into our laps! There are times when we have to make extraordinary changes in our life for the better and most times, those changes are not easy! For Israel, it took an extraordinary change in order for them to make a turn back to the Lord for a wonderful change to come over them.
Thoughts About Change
I shared these two verses in my food for thought earlier this week, and the thought of what I said and what this scripture says never left my mind. For whatever reason, change has been something that we have struggled with as individuals but also certainly as a society. My initial thoughts when I pondered our fear of change led me to the fact that we always fear what we do not understand or what we know.
There is a mystery that comes with change, isn’t there? Mysteries are not something that we are necessarily fans of. I know that I cannot stand when somebody asks me to “guess what” – I much rather they just tell me instead of me playing a simple mystery game. I feel like this is how we operate most of the time – we much rather know what is ahead of us instead of having to wait or guess.
I imagine that the Israelites in our scripture for today were absolutely terrified of the change when they were taken away to a far away land – a land they would now be strangers in. Again, I tell you that the Lord had a wonderful change in store for them, but their path had changed. I also tell you that this scripture is a good illustration for us today.
Threat to normalcy
Change is certainly a mystery, but I find that we also view change as a threat to us. Let me explain what I mean by that statement. You see, we are creatures of habit – we love our normalcy and we love our routines. The reason why we love our routines is because we don’t really have to think about much – we simply do what we do and we grow comfortable in our habits.
So, when sudden changes come along the way and interrupt our normalcy, it can be very terrifying. When you think about it, this is something that we are seeing play out in our society right now. Having to now wear masks when we go into public places has some folks losing their minds because that’s not part of the routine. So, sometimes we view change, especially sudden changes, as a threat to our normalcy!
What do we do when we feel threatened? Well, we typically do our best to protect ourselves from the threat. We try to fight off anything that can be a threat to us. So, guess what happens when we feel that change is a threat? Well, we try to fight it off or we try to fight for some sort of control, right? If things are going to change, we want to be in control of the change – we love being in control.
I certainly understand this thought! There are definitely some changes that I can see some folks wishing to implement that I definitely will fight against. If you think we should all be living like people were in the 1800s and early 1900s, then that’s definitely a change I will fight against! There are definitely different types of change we should either fight for or fight against, but this isn’t that kind of sermon.
No, I tell you that God is busy doing a wonderful new thing in us and for us today! The idea that God is preparing a wonderful change for us can be exciting and thrilling to some while also be absolutely terrifying to them and to others as well. I say this because we are not the ones who are in control of this change! What the Lord is doing on our behalf is a mystery to us and what have I said about mysteries – we much rather know what is ahead of us.
For some of us, we become combative when the Lord begins to change things on our behalf – we don’t know any better! We try to fight for control over the change in our lives but many times we don’t realize that we are simply making things worse. I want you to see what the Lord says about this in the book of Jeremiah – watch this.
A plan for you
God said in Jeremiah (Jer. 29:11), “For I know the plans I think toward you.” This feels me with so much joy, I don’t know about you, but let’s keep going in what He said! “Thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Look at what the Lord says here!
Now, understand that the Lord was speaking directly to Israel here – that rebellious Israel – but I also want you to know that this same thing holds true for us today! God knows exactly who you are! Jesus said this Himself when He said He was the good shepherd (John 10:11). He said that the shepherd enters into the sheepfold and can call His sheep by name and leads them out (John 10:3)!
I tell you that God has a plan for all of us and He’s busy this very minute executing His plans for us. Change is a constant in our lives, especially as believers, because the Lord is always working on our behalf! God says He is going to do a brand new thing and that we should stop being hung up on the old. Stop being hung up on where you are thinking that’s your finish line! No, your finish line is still ahead of you with much better being there for you so you should keep on going towards it!
Keep moving forward
Too often, we get hung up on the past like how we say the Israelites in my sermon last Sunday – Strained Faith – Help is on the Way. You will recall that the children of Israel were complaining that things were better when they were in bondage in Egypt compared to when they were free in the care of God in the wilderness. I said it last Sunday, and I will say it again this Sunday, some of us have that same sort of mindset!
What I mean by this is that God will bring us through some stuff and we will be in a happy place, but then God is ready to give us an increase and move us to an even better place – yet we complain when we get started moving! We’ll start to even regret what we have prayed for or lose faith in what we prayed for because the journey to the blessing is too difficult. We should not stop moving forward because the change is rough, especially when the blessing is at the end of the change!
Let us remember what the Lord said – “(I have) Thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope (Jer. 29:11).” Too often we fight God and give up on the wonderful change that the Lord has for us because the blessing is not coming as easy as we thought it should. We will look back to the things of old and say that those things were better, when we should stop doing that and keep looking ahead to the wonderful change.
A New Wonderful Thing
We must remember that all of God’s works are absolutely wonderful works. I think about what Tramaine Hawkins song many years ago when she said a wonderful change had come over her. We will remember that when God first changed us, our vision got a whole lot better! Our speech became better! Our walk became a brand new walk and a better walk as well! We often forget that change was not an easy change, but we remember that it was a wonderful change.
I’m not sure what you may be going through today, but I know that we are living in a season of much change. My prayers to all of you who have suffered change through the loss of loved ones. My prayers are with all of you who have suddenly lost your jobs as well – my prayer is all that I can give to you. I can also deliver this message to you as well – the Lord is in control!
Let me tell you this: any change that God is in control of, I believe it is going to lead to something wonderful. We must trust in the work that God is doing and keep moving forward. Yes, times can be tough and this time may be tough for you, but I urge you to keep the faith. God knows exactly what He is doing for you and I tell you, you’re going to have a wonderful testimony to share when your change is complete and when you reach the blessing.
God is often working in us because we are His testimony to all of those around us. They will see the change in us and be encouraged by our change.