by Jennie Smith
I can’t watch the news anymore. We live in such a fallen, sinful world, and the news on the news is never good. Murders. Robberies. And don’t even get me started on Ebola! There is so much to be scared of, and I can be the biggest scared-y cat of them all. Just the other night, there was a police helicopter going around and around in the middle of the night, and someone was on the megaphone saying unintelligible things. I laid there for hours feeling fear (and listening to the police scanner app I have on my phone) while the rest of my family slept in peace.
Sometimes, I think I must be the only one who experiences this crazy level of fear. Thankfully, I’ve realized that even great heroes of the faith have experienced fear. Adam and Eve hid from God out of fear after they had sinned. Abraham lied about Sarah being his wife on two occasions, motivated by fear. Moses didn’t want to fulfill his calling and tried to talk God out of it…because he was scared. Saul disobeyed God because he feared the people of the land, and Peter had such great fear that he denied Jesus three times.
So, what do we do to combat fear?
Call it what it is….Disobedience to the Almighty God
The Bible has a lot to say on the issue of fear. I saw on Facebook this popular meme…
I‘ve been trying to do some research about the accuracy of this, and most are concluding that there aren’t exactly 365 verses, although it is a nice thought. The most important thing is that God said “Do not fear…” many times, even though ONE time ought to be enough for us! Here is my favorite (emphasis added):
Isaiah 41:10 “FEAR NOT, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
If God has told us not to fear, and yet we spend time in fear of the various crisis that can befall us, we are in direct disobedience to Him. And He gives us a reason not to fear….He is our God; He will help us.
Trust, Trust, Trust
Our Father is so worthy of our trust. Has he been faithful to you through past trials? Has he sustained you in your times of struggle? Has he provided for you in times of want? Has he comforted you in times of grief? He will never change and will speak to our pain when it arrives again. When we understand that God is in complete control, and has all resources at his command to help us, we can exist at a new level of peace.
Elyse Fitzpatrick, author of the book Overcoming Fear, Worry, and Anxiety (2001), says “God’s sovereignty is the only safe harbor when we’re assailed by the winds of fear, doubt, and worry” (pg. 128). At the time when the fear of the Ebola crisis had me on edge, I googled “sermons on God’s sovereignty” and found an excellent sermon by John Piper. I was so encouraged to be reminded that God is not surprised by any problem that we are faced with and there is not one thing that God can’t handle!
Realize that our fear does nothing to help the situation.
Did my laying there in bed, awake, listening to the dispatchers talk to the police through the night make me any less in danger? Does imagining my boys coming down with Ebola make my children at any less risk of getting the disease? Jesus said “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Matthew 6:27). Elyse Fitzpatrick (2001) says that worry “can’t change anything. It won’t make you live one more day than God has ordained. It won’t influence whatever you may face in the future. Worry is powerless” (pg. 111). The threats of bad things happening will always exist, but stewing about them does not decrease the chances of them happening to us, it only makes us feel miserable and wastes valuable time.
Our only hope lies in the fact that our God is sovereign – He knows all the things that lay before us and He is in complete control of them. Bad things are going to happen. Police helicopters will fly over head. People we love are going to suffer. We may be asked to walk a difficult and terrible road. But He is good, and loving, and will meet us in these trials and give us exactly what we need to endure them. Let us be like the Psalmist who said “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4).
Fitzpatrick, E. (2001). Overcoming Fear, Worry, and Anxiety. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers.