Recently, I replied to a friend’s post about fear with these words,
“I know who holds the future, but personal doubt easily creeps in.”
I know those are unusual words to read or hear within the Church. The reality is we all have fears. And there are times, despite our understanding that God is in control, when our fears overwhelm us. However, we have a bad habit when fellowshipping with other Christians of whitewashing our lives. We don’t talk about our challenges and our trials. We don’t share as openly as the Bible implores us to. As a result, we don’t share our fears.
If you do a word study on fear or cowardice (the word Nave’s Topical Bible uses), you’ll find that it can sometimes be caused by sin. However, this isn’t always the case. One can be very close to God and still have fear. Here’s an example:
And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” – Matthew 8:23-25, ESV
I can’t fault the disciples for reacting as they did. If the waves were so great that they were tossing the boat around and crashing onto the deck, I’d have been scared, too. From these verses we can clearly tell they were afraid. Yet Jesus slept right there next to them. They were as close as you could get and yet fear overwhelmed them.
My message for today isn’t to say that succumbing to fear is okay. Rather, it’s to point out that feeling fear is more common than we’d like to admit. Fear strikes the godly and ungodly. Fear can be due to sin and it can come because of natural circumstances. Fear is natural. Fear is an emotion. We might not have control when it comes to feeling an emotion. However, we do have control over how we react to that emotion.
How we react is important. It determines if we demonstrate our trust in Jesus Christ or not. It determines how we live our lives. In the military, there are a lot of sayings about fear. One that has stuck with me is that “courage is not the absence of fear but acting appropriately in the face of it.” Over the next few days we’ll look at godly responses to fear. First, though, we have to admit to ourselves that fear is natural and that fear happens all the time. Don’t flagellate yourself because you feel fear. Accept that you’re going to have that emotion. And prepare yourself to react accordingly.