DON’T BE AFRAID

I’m amazed as I read the Bible at how often God tells his people to not be afraid. If you go back to the Old Testament and read as God spoke to the Nation of Israel, He told them that he didn’t choose them because they were large or strong as a nation. He chose them and loved them even though they were not strong or mighty. As they prepared to enter the Promised Land, he said to them, that he knew the nations they were going in to drive out of the land of Canaan were stronger, and far more numerous than them. They had bigger armies, walled cities and much greater weapons of war. Yet his challenge to Israel was to not be afraid of these nations. Even if there were giants in the land, they had nothing to fear as long as they leaned on Him. He constantly reminded them that He wasn’t depending on their power or strength to drive the enemies out. Instead he said he would send the hornets in before them who would drive out the people of the land. He promised them that he would go before them into the Promised Land and would drive out their enemies before them.

When you begin to read the Gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the New Testament the situation has changed a great deal. It isn’t the nation of Israel that He now promised to deliver. He tells them he will establish the church and that He will be with them every day in all aspects of their lives. What stands out against that is that his most frequent command relating to any sin they were to avoid was the command not be be afraid but to trust Him. He said, “Don’t be afraid little flock, for it is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Think of the day when Jesus and the apostles were in a boat in the Sea of Galilee. A huge storm arose and they were horribly afraid that the boat was going to sink and they would all perish in the storm. Jesus, during the storm was sound asleep in the bow of the boat. They seemed to have to shake him to get him awake. When they have his attention they shouted, “Lord, don’t you care that we are about to perish in this storm.” Jesus arose and rebuked the wind and the waves and the storm calmed down, the waves stopped and the water became tranquil. Then Jesus turned to them to say, “Why were you so afraid? Where is your faith?” Their response was to be amazed and say, “What kind of man is this that even the wind and the waves obey his voice?”

I suspect that if God spoke to us from heaven right now, his strongest challenge to us would be, “Don’t be afraid. Trust me. I am with you.” Let’s be honest with ourselves, FAITH AND FEAR CAN’T SHARE THE SAME SPACE. If I am living in fear all the time, something is dreadfully wrong with my faith in the Lord. Remember the basic meaning of the word “Faith” is to trust, to believe and to live my whole life depending on the love and care of my Lord. We must choose in daily life, shall we live by faith or by fear? In 2 Corinthians 5 Paul explained that when the body is decayed and destroyed, our soul or inner being doesn’t perish with it. When the body is destroyed, the soul goes on to be with the Lord in glory. While our outward man is perishing our inward man is being renewed day by day. When the body dies, we have a building with God, a house not made with hands eternal in the heavens. In this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon by our house which is in heaven. He even said that this is what we are made for to begin with. As long as we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord but that we are well pleased to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. “For we walk by faith and not by sight.” He then challenged us to make it our ambition to be pleasing to the Lord whether in the body or out of the body since we will all appear before the judgment seat of Christ to receive our rewards for how we lived in the body.

What are you afraid of today? The truth is people struggle with fear on every level in life. Some are so afraid of catching some disease that they can’t enjoy the health they have for fear of losing it. Many live in constant fear of being killed by someone who has a gun and is under the influence of some drug or alcohol and will murder them. Others live in horrible fear of catching the Covid 19 virus. Many fear war or some terrorist attacking us in some way. Some live in fear all the time of someone revealing some secret in their lives that will lead to people not trusting them anymore. The truth is that fear can so overwhelm our lives that we can’t enjoy even the very best of times and situations because something horrible might happen and take it all away. Do such tragic events take place? Yes they do, because we live in a world stained horribly by sin. The Bible called Satan the “god of this age.” The devil loves to cause you problems and lead you into the valley of despair.

What are we to do to overcome the fears of life? Think about a verse of the Bible found in Revelation 2:10. “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, so that you will be tested and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” This was written to the church in Smyrna. Jesus identified himself as the writer who is the first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life. He tells them, “I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich), and the slander by those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.” Then he gave the plea for them not to be afraid. The reality was that many of the things they were so afraid of were actually about to happen. They were going to face persecution and many would die in the process. Yet God’s plea was, “Don’t be afraid.” Well, why not be afraid when such horrible things were coming upon them? Because the trials were temporary. They would last ten days. Many would die in the process. But that certainly wasn’t the end of the matter. What was waiting for them was a crown of life! All they had to do was to conquer their fears by being faithful and true to the Lord. Lean on Him, not your own powers or abilities. This plea for us to be faithful, true, dependable to the Lord wasn’t just until we finally die, but even if it means our death on this earth. The reason we can face it all without fear is that we never face such things alone and whatever happens we have a crown of life awaiting when we stay faithful and true to the Lord.

You choose all along whether you will walk by faith or by fear. Which do you choose? I hope it is to put your faith in the Lord and trust him no matter what happens in this world.

About leoninlittlerock

Preaching minister for Central church of Christ in Little Rock. Author of over 20 books including: When a Loved one Dies, Spiritual Development, Skid Marks on the Family Drive, Challenges in the church, To Know Christ and A Drink of Living Water.
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