All Quiet on the Fear Front

July 9th, 2008

Focus Text: Psalm 91: 5 (NLT)

 5 Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
      nor the arrow that flies in the day.
 6 Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
      nor the disaster that strikes at midday.

 

Stop Here and Reflect Before Reading Ahead

 

One of my favorite novels of all time is Erich Maria Remarque’s classic All Quiet on the Western Front.  It’s a fictional story by a German World War I veteran that chronicles the story of a young soldier’s struggle to survive in the trenches of war-torn Europe.  It’s unfortunate that so many young Americans (and older ones for that matter) have so little knowledge of World War I.  The events of World War II are usually more well-known because of popular movies like Saving Private Ryan and Pearl Harbor.  But between 1914 and 1918, an earlier worldwide conflict inflicted such devastation upon Europe and the world that those who lived during this period referred to it simply as “The Great War.”

The Great War occurred at a very interesting time in world history in that some soldiers fought with machine guns, some fought with single-shot rifles, and some fought with clubs and swords.  Some flew in airplanes, some rode in tanks, and some were still fighting on horseback.  Technology was just beginning to advance and everyone wasn’t on the same page.  But, the central feature of this war was “trench warfare.”  

Trench warfare was a total warfare strategy in which the two opposing forces would dig huge trenches that stretched for hundreds of miles.  These trenches became the “fronts” of the war.  The two armies would live in these trenches for months at a time while machine guns and mortar shells completely decimated the open field between the trenches.  The life of these soldiers entailed sleeping, eating, and breathing by the flashing lights and deafening, shell-shocking explosions of a perpetual firefight between the trenches.  It was a deadly stand-off that drove many men insane.

The mental effects of trench warfare led the nations at war to adopt a technique that was designed to paralyze the soldiers who were trapped in the trenches.  It wasn’t another weapon.  It wasn’t chemical warfare.  It was psychological warfare.

Huge loud speakers were set up that played the opposing nation’s national anthem for the enemy to hear.  Then, a man would begin speaking to them in their language telling them that the war was over and that they should surrender.  Some of these men in the trenches had been there so long with no connection to the outside world that they had no way of verifying what was true and what was a lie of the enemy.  The enemy’s voice would ring in their ears for hours on end, telling them that their families had been captured and were being tortured as long as they didn’t surrender.  Can you even imagine the mental anguish these young men must have faced?

The purpose of psychological warfare is to terrify a soldier to the point that he either surrenders, runs out into the open field and becomes an easy target, or simply does nothing but sits paralyzed with fear.  All three scenarios mean that the soldier is not fighting effectively and that benefits the enemy’s cause.  The key is fear.  Fear is something I know well.  As a young child, I was extremely scared of the dark.  Many people, adults and kids alike, spend much of their lives in fear of sickness, catastrophe, death– or worst of all: the unknown.

Psalm 91: 5 addresses this issue with a direct statement from God: “don’t be afraid!”  Huh, that’s easy for you to say?

But then the Psalmist gets specific and addresses the various types of “bad” things that can happen. Nighttime terrors.  Daytime arrows.  Dark diseases.  Midday disasters.  Yikes!  How can God tell us not to be afraid and then allow us to know all the possibilities of things that “could” happen to us?  That’s like telling a child to not be afraid of the dark and then telling them a ghost story for bedtime.  It doesn’t seem to make much sense.

You see, it all comes down to this.  We are in the trenches of this world and we’re locked in a perpetual firefight with the enemy.  At times, we may spend what seems like months or years bogged down in one spot unable to advance.  At this point, the enemy cranks up the loud speakers and begins to tell us what we don’t want to hear.  He tells us that we’ve failed.  He tells us that the war is lost and that God has forgotten about us.  

His purpose?   To cause us to surrender to our old lifestyles.  To cause us to run out into the open where he can take us out. Or just as devastating to our cause, to paralyze us into inaction. 

But unlike those poor souls who went for months without contact from the outside world, our Father is speaking directly into our trench and He’s telling us to stay put and to not be afraid.  He’s not saying that the dangers aren’t real; He’s saying that His power is greater than your enemy’s.  Ha!  Take that!

Fear is the enemy’s most effective weapon and it attacks you on the battlefield of your mind; therefore, that’s where you must combat it.  Whose voice are you going to listen to?  Remember, you’re not alone in your trench, so don’t listen to the enemy’s bogus misinformation.

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~ by johndriver on July 9, 2008.

8 Responses to “All Quiet on the Fear Front”

  1. wow… i must say i was reading this story and i honestly feel like the solider in the trench with the enemies speakers blowing lies at me. I’ve been fighting a battle ever since we left camp, just trying to hold on to God’s promises. This week i felt defeated but my sister told me a great story about how God is there and how he can show us signs that He is there. I told her i didn’t know what kind of sign i wanted to ask for. I simply prayed that He would show me something i needed. I think this was my sign… it doesn’t cure everything but it lets me know He really is there and He works in ways we don’t expect.

  2. i think God is using this site to help us all when we are in the trenches and the devil is telling us it is all over and tempting us to surrender. every day i read the daily thread God seems to give me a little more peace with the issues in my life. the daily thread is a powerfull tool as far as i’m concerned and i plan on utilizing it every day.

  3. You just can’t get away from the history John. HaHa. Anyways I looked up today’s verse in some different Bible versions. I can remember one little statement that stood out in the Bible. It said that in the Hebrew day the day was divided into four sections: midnight or night, morining, midday or noonday, and evening. So in summary the Lord gives around-the-clock protection. I thought that really awsome that we can take something written more than two thousand-three thousand years old and yet still apply it to today. Protection from God is something that gives peace to us all so that we don’t have to be sitting in our Holy War worring that we are alone.
    I think of the enemy speaking and the Lord speaking is explained like walking on a road. You start walking down this road and hearing voices thousands of voices. You start to become confused but then You hear one voice out of all the voices. the voice is clear, hopeful, yearning you to keep walking foward. You keep walking on the path but then you realize the path seems to get smaller, more dangerous, scarier. Then you start paying attention to all the voices around you. You trust them and start walking away from the path and then you fall into a deep, black, neverending…emptiness. You realize that what you started with was better than what you got yourself into. You then are reminded that you can’t do this alone. You call out for help and then you see yourself back right o the road and you continue on your way. In the same way, God calls out louder than all the other voices so you follow the voice. But when you see the life struggle ahead you start to pay attention to other voices that lead you astray and leads you to fall. Only when you realize that God gave you the protection from all this hurt. You then see that you can’t go on alone. Making yourself right with God puts yourself back on the road.
    I am glad to know that its true that God’s forgiveness and love never ends because many times I have fallen into the pit of emptiness and need to remind myself that God’s protection is always with us.

  4. The closer I am to God ,the more familiar I become with his voice. I want to be so close to him, that I never have any doubt when the enemy is trying to confuse me about whose voice I’m listening to. It is a scary thing to know he has the power to do that, but God’s power is so much greater we can’t even begin to fathom it. I live a lot of my life in fear of failure. I tend to be on more of the perfectionist side and I’m an easy target for the enemy a lot! This verse would be good for me to memorize. I will put my trust in HIM and let him take control of my fear. Fear is not from God so I don’t want to be apart of it anymore.

  5. Once again you are one funny man haha =]]

    Anyways when you talked about being tricked by the enemies voice it made me think of Reggies Dabbs’s story from camp about following the kings voice and you should pick the companion that knows the kings song best, which is Jesus and when we are near to Jesus & have a close relationship with him, he will tell us where to go and where not to go…just like in the story…thats one of my favortive stories of all!

    Jesus is not gonna lead us down a path and then say ” well , tell me how this all works out for ya! ” If we follow him he will not leave us, he told us he wouldn’t, and im pretty excited about that!!

    I like how you tied that whole battle trench thing in, when u first talked about the enemy setting up speakers i knew where u were gonna go with it and it was totally awesome ,but it is kinda funny how he tells us not to be afriad of all this bad stuff, its like well great now im even more freaked out about it! but i thinks it good to be scared sometimes cause when we are freaked out who do we wanna run to….our father…cause we KNOW he will protect us no matter what!!!

    Thats all i really got to say =]]
    i really like what u had to say about this one PJ!

  6. The enemy likes to numb us by constantly beating us down. Like those loud speakers, he will constantly take our worst fears and shout them in our ears. God doesn’t need a loud speaker to strengthen me. He is a still, small voice that speaks deeply into my life. I don’t have to listen to lies when the Truth is already living in me.

    By the way, I’m a huge fan of All Quiet on the Western Front!

  7. Ya know, I really like this one. It really got me thinking and come to think of it, every time God leads me somewhere and I have no idea what I’m doing there, He always brings me out some way or another. Even if it’s just as simple as telling me it’s gonna be ok.

    I actually was thinking about this the other day. When I get through something difficult, and I look back on it there’s a reason for it and avery time it leads to something better. And I never would have made it to that better thing if I hadn’t had God to guide me through and grab my attention from satan.

    I don’t know if that makes sense but I know what I was saying =D

  8. wow driver these help me so much i don’t know if you realize it or not but the second verse, psalm 91:6 says do not be afraid of disease or disasters. we often times get caught up in things and worry about them to the point where we have ulcers, well not me but other people, sorta, anyway it just helps to know that God is in control of everything that happens and he’s always there, i mean i don’t know about other people but i like to be reassured of things and God always being there for me and being my protector really encourages me to keep my eyes set on the goal that he has for my life and where he’s taking me. so ya again a comment where i ramble on and on and you and laura try to make heads or tails of it but ya just so you know these things really do help.

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