I can remember a conversation I once had with an older minister. I was in my early 20's and was helping to pastor a church plant at the time. I can remember telling him how inadequate I felt and how I was so very fearful of so many things. And I will never forget what he told me.
"God gave us fear as an emotion. And in the right place, it is a good thing. But we are only given so much. So I try to wake up each morning and get before God. And I waste all my fear before God in prayer and in the Word. So then when something comes us that day I don't have any fear left, because I gave it all to God."
In the Old Testament we read the seemingly never-ending story of God's people forsaking him and chasing after other gods and making idols for themselves. But there is an interesting aspect in 2 Kings 17 that gives us insight into one of the reasons they did this, and shines a light onto why we do it as well. In verse 7 we read that the people of Israel 'feared other gods'. And it was this false placed fear that drove them to false worship.
God commanded His people, and us, to fear no other gods. He commands us over and again to fear not the things of this world. Jesus even tells us to fear only God the Father (Luke 12:5). Most of us can remember the words spoken by the angel of the Lord to Joshua before entering the promised land, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9)
Yet so often we can find ourselves anxious and afraid. Especially when it seems like the world is falling down around us, our hearts can so quickly become fearful.
And right now it seams like it's so easy to be afraid. It seems like each new news story or podcast episode is full of it. People are unsure what to do, or what to turn to. And unfortunately that can, and does, seep into the hearts of God's people. The only ones who should not be overwhelmed by fear.
I have heard many people state that as Christians we should be fearless people. But I don't think that's true. We are called to be a courageous people. And I believe it was 'ole John Wayne who once stated that "Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway."
I do not thing that the problem at the moment is that we have fear. I believe the problem is that for many people this current pandemic has shown that our fear is falsely placed.
So what do we do?
I believe there is only one remedy for this. And the remedy is as hard as it is simple. Look to Jesus. The real Jesus.
As many of us are taking time this Holy Week to read the account of Jesus' final week before His crucifixion we can easily forget that He is no longer bound by a frail human frame. And for many of us, for me at least, my fears can be righty placed when I meditate on Jesus as He is now. He is the one who made all things and holds all things together, and that includes the molecules that make up your body and the atoms that make up any sickness that could attack it. And not only that, all things are made for Him, to bring glory to Him (Col. 1:15-20). Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last . He defeated death and holds the very keys of Hell in his hands (Rev. 1:17-18). He will never leave any of His people alone or abandoned (Heb. 13:5). And all that belong to Him He will keep and not let go of (John 6:37, 10:28-29). Or I could remind you of how Jesus often told people they were no longer allowed to be sick (Matt. 9:20-22, Mark 2:9-12, Luke 17:12-16, John 9:6-7). Or Jesus telling His friend Lazarus that He wanted to hang out with him more so he had to stop being dead (John 11:38-44). If that is not enough, you could spend a lifetime meditating on the sarcastic description of God's power in response to Job (Job 38, 39, 40, 41). And for each of these examples there are a hundred more.
So in this season where so many things are competing for our fear, and as such competing for our thoughts, emotions, time, mental energy, and more, let us remember the words of King Solomon, the teacher. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Pro. 1:7). And let us try to do that that wise man told me almost a decade ago, let us waste our fear where it belongs so that we have none left for the the things that don't deserve it.
Photo: Gasoline Lines by Warren K. Leffler from the Library of Congress. In the Public Domain.