Well we survived Hurricane Irene. I have friends living in Haiti, Florida and the Philippines who experience hurricanes or typhoons on somewhat of a regular basis, but for those of us living in the Northeast it’s a rare and admittedly frightening experience. We don’t know what to expect, how to prepare or how to act. The one thing that we do know is fear.
Fear is an interesting emotion that results from a variety of sources. We fear what we don’t know; we fear something/someone that is different from us; we fear danger; we even fear just the possibility of danger.
Fear is also interesting because of what it does to us. Fear causes rational people to act irrationally; it causes peaceful people to act violently; it causes people who profess to live out the love of Christ to act unlovingly towards others.
We often feel foolish about our fears. We know that it’s not logical to be afraid of the dark, or heights, or close quarters, but we’re afraid anyway. We just can’t seem to help ourselves. Our minds go to places that under normal circumstances it wouldn’t go. Even though most of our fears are unfounded and never materialize, our fear is still real. It’s an issue that we have to deal with – for some people daily. And God knows that.
In fact, God has a lot to say about fear. I recently read this quote from author Max Lucado’s book Imagine Your Life Without Fear, posted by a Facebook friend: Jesus most common command emerges from the ‘fear not’ genre. The Gospels list some 125 Christ-issued imperatives. Of these, 21 urge us to “not be afraid” or “not fear” or “have courage.” The 2nd most common command, to love God and neighbor, appears on only 8 occasions. If quantity is any indicator, Jesus takes our fears seriously. The one statement he made more than any other was this: don’t be afraid.
Think about that. We place such an emphasis on the Great Command of scripture (and rightly so); love God, love your neighbor, but the Bible talks about fear far more often than it does about loving God or loving your neighbor. That should give us some indication of how important this issue of fear and freedom from fear is to God.
God does take your fears seriously and He does not want you to live in fear. 2 Timothy 1:7 says that God has not given us a spirit of fear. That is, fear does not come from God. 1 John 4:18 tells us that there is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear. Living in Christ, which is living in perfect love, and living in fear are opposites of each other. Don’t minimize your fears, they are very real, but learn to turn your fears over to the God who loves you and wants to be your strength in your moment of fear.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea (Psalm 46:1-2).
Stay in the Word