Have you ever had a time where you were just absolutely terrified? Have you ever had a time that fear gripped your heart? When I was fourteen, there was one particular night that sticks out in my mind when I think of fear.
I grew up in Hartford City, Indiana on the outskirts of Blackford county deep in the country. Even though our home was on six acres of land, it consisted mostly of woods. At night it was dark, eerie and scary. And as if the woods wasn’t enough, on either side of our property was cornfields (and many wondered why I refused to watch the movie Signs for my of my life).
One fall night I noticed that I had left a light on in the barn that sat behind our house after feeding our horse earlier in the evening. It was about 9pm, and I knew that I would be in trouble if I left the light on in the barn. So I threw on a jacket, and set out into the chilly autumn evening. I made it down to the barn, turned off the light, and set back towards the house. Now that the light had been turned off, the night seemed even more dark than it was before. Suddenly, I heard a stick break and froze on the spot. I stood there for what seemed like several minutes, but in reality was only a few seconds. The sound of the breaking stick seemed to come from every direction. It was so dark. I could see nothing but the lights from the house about 200 meters from where I stood. I didn’t run, I didn’t scream, and I didn’t turn around. I just stood there in the cold October air, frozen, unable to even move.
Obviously, I made it out of situation unharmed. It was probably simply some kind of animal in the woods or a limb falling from the tree. But the fear that I felt was real, it was paralyzing, and it rendered me powerless.
Life tends to have several unknowns that can leave us fearful and uncertain. What about things that aren’t as simple as being in the dark and hearing a stick break? What about the fear of not finding a job and losing your home? What about the fear of being rejected and alone? What about the fear of never finding a meaningful relationship that leads to the “happy, married life”? What if I don’t pass my next test?
One can look at these few questions posed above and see how it would be easy to let these questions and fears fill our minds. The Bible actually has quite a bit to say about fear. In fact, there are many times God is speaking to His people and He tells them to “fear not” (over 80 times):
“Do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be afraid, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you; I will help you;
I will hold on to you with my righteous right hand.”
Now we could just read that verse, think of it as a nice sentiment, and move on. However, this isn’t just a nice verse to quote and stitch to a pillow that goes on a shelf. I think Scripture is telling us something of great importance here. God says to His people in this verse “do not fear”. Why?:
“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God”.
Notice God does not say “do not fear, because things are going to be alright” or “do not fear, for you have done a lot of good lately”. No, God says not to fear because He is with us. God Himself is with His people. God doesn’t send us something, He sends Himself! For those who trust in God, it is not a system that is trusted. It isn’t spokesman on behalf of God. No, God makes sure that we can have freedom from fear because He promises to be with us personally.
He Dwelt Among Us
In order to see God and trust that He is with us, we have to know what God is like. I can hear all about how good of a basketball player someone is, but until I see them on the court I can’t be sure how good they really are. Proof is in the pudding, right? The God of the Bible is so good that He sent Himself:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God…
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We observed his glory, the glory as the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
When we want to know what kind of God the God of the Bible is, we need to look no farther than the person of Jesus. When God saw the state of our humanity, He sent not an earthly king, or politician, or activist. He sent Jesus. God became flesh and dwelt among us. The book of Colossians tells us that Jesus is “the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15). God’s goodness can be no better expressed than in the life of Jesus Christ. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor. 5:21).
We Can Trust God
God has broke the power of fear. When our trust is in God, there is nothing left for us to fear. Does that mean we won’t ever experience fear? Of course not. However, when we do experience fear we can rest in the goodness of who God is and who He has proven He is.
I read a book recently that related to faith and trust in God like that of the trapeze artist. When the trapeze artist is letting go of his bar, flying through the air while performing incredible acrobatic stunts, he can only do that because he has complete trust that his partner on the other side is going to catch him. His partner will keep him from falling.
We can also trust God like that. We can have faith in the face of fear because we know who is there to catch us. We know God is true, He is faithful, and has promised to be with us. We don’t have to freeze as I did on that dark night in the woods of my home because of my fear. We can face our fear with the courage to know that one who is in control of the universe is for me and has promised to be with me.
If God is for us, if God is on our side, then what could ever stand against us?
“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us,who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son,but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”
What are your thoughts on God, faith, and fear? Have you experienced God in the face of fear? I’d love to hear your comments below and hear your thoughts!