Living in fear is horrible. Living in dread of someone, of his or her power over you, is awful. Fear and dread of another person cripples you and ultimately leads to a fall. And perhaps it isn’t even the other person’s fault. Maybe it’s just you’re focused on the wrong being – your focus is on a person rather than on the Lord.
On the other hand, hope lifts your spirit. Faith in the goodness and power of God, who loves you, strengthens you and leads to a rise.
“He that dreadeth a man, shall fall soon; he that hopeth in the Lord, shall be raised [up]. (He who feareth someone, shall soon fall; but he who hopeth in the Lord, shall be raised up.)”
Fear is impossible to overcome without faith. Ask God to overcome your doubts. He will.
‘What people do to me, I shall not dread or fear for I hope and trust in God,’ sings the psalmist.
“In God I shall praise my words; I hoped in God, I shall not dread what thing flesh, or man, shall do to me. (Yea, I shall praise God with my words; for I trust in God, and I shall not fear what any person shall do to me.)”
With complete trust in God, it makes sense that I would not fear anything someone might decide to do to me. Fear and dread and worry indicate a lack of trust in God, especially a diminishing of belief in His perfect will. Jesus, for a moment, asks God the Father if perhaps His perfect will might be fulfilled in some other perfect way than through crucifixion and death. But, within the same breath, Jesus says: ‘But not My will Lord, but Yours.’
Since Jesus is without sin, it follows His dread of the cross is part of His sacrifice for us. His fear relieves our fear just as His punishment deflects the punishment meant for us.
So, day in and day out, our worries and fears and dreads — though natural reactions to the stresses of living — should never define us. What should define you and me is our trust and hope in God, who is perfect and “who works all things together for good to those who are call according to His purposes.”
God tells Joshua no one will be able to stand against him for God is with him in all things “to which [he] goes.” God commands him to be comforted by his knowledge of this truth, and so not to dread or fear anything he may face.
“Lo! I command to thee; be thou comforted, and be thou strong; do not thou dread, nor be thou afeared; for thy Lord God is with thee in all things, to which thou goest. (Lo! I command thee; be thou encouraged, and be thou strong; do not thou fear, nor be thou afraid; for the Lord thy God is with thee in all things, to which thou goest.)”
If you believe God is with you in all things, then fear is impossible. Only comfort makes sense.
In perfect charity, neither fear nor reluctance exists. If we fear or are reluctant to love — or to accept love — then we are still concerned with pain and punishment. Dread means “to fear greatly; be in extreme apprehension of; to be reluctant to do, meet, or experience.”
Are you afraid to love? Are you reluctant to receive charity? Do you fear punishment? Are you wary of rejection? Are you reluctant to give of yourself? If you live in dread, then you are not perfected in love.
“Dread is not in charity, but perfect charity putteth out dread [but perfect charity sendeth out dread]; for dread hath pain. But he that dreadeth, is not perfect in charity.”
Jesus says, “Be not your heart afraid [Be not your heart distroubled], nor dread it; ye believe in God, and believe ye in me.” (John 14:1)
Don’t live in dread. Live in love. Jesus’ love is perfect.
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18)
“If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)
“The Lord is my light and my salvation — whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life — of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)
Ultimately, fear is obsolete for the Christian. We are under the shadow of the wings of the Almighty God. We are sheltered in Him; He is our tower, our stronghold, our sure fortress. Since God is on our side, who can be against us? Since He is the stronghold of our lives, of whom shall we be afraid? Since there is no punishment in our future, what have we to fear? Nothing should frighten us.
Fear is destroyed because the Lord Himself is our salvation. He is our light; and as we walk in His light, we know the truth and this truth sets us free — free from guilt, free from condemnation, free from sin’s power and from the sting of death.
“Though an army besiege me, my heart does not fear; though war break out against me, even then am I confident.” (Psalm 27:3)
“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14)
God the Holy Spirit warns us that “the fear of man bringeth a snare; but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.”
A snare is “a contrivance often consisting of a noose for entangling birds or mammals; something by which one is entangled, involved in difficulties, or impeded, or something deceptively attractive” according to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary. How is it that fear leads to entanglement, difficulty, impedance? Let that percolate.
Safe is defined as being “free from harm or risk; secure from threat of danger, harm, or loss; or affording security from danger, risk, or difficulty.” How is it that trust in God leads to freedom from risk, loss, danger, injury, harm and results in security and safety? Let that percolate.
Fear is “to have a reverential awe of,to be afraid of : expect with alarm; or to be afraid or apprehensive.” The Holy Spirit warns us not to have “a reverential awe of” man; He tells us not to anticipate with alarm what man might do; He encourages us not to “be afraid or apprehensive” in regards to mankind’s actions. Rather, we are to put our trust in the Lord. Let that percolate.
Trust “is an assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something; is one in which confidence is placed, is dependence on something future” i.e. hope. The Holy Spirit engages us to trust fully in the Lord God, our maker. As we rely on the character, ability, strength, and truth of God; we are truly safe.
Jesus sleeps through a windstorm, even one in which the waves threaten to swamp the boat. Both Jesus and His disciples are in real danger of drowning in the lake. In panic, Jesus’ disciples wake Him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to die!” (Luke 8:24, HCSB)
Jesus stands up, “rebukes the wind and the raging waves” so that a calm falls over the lake. (Luke 8:24) Jesus turns, looking at the disciples, wet and sheepish I am certain. He says to them, “Where is your faith?” They don’t know who He is which is why “they are fearful and amazed.” (Luke 8:25)
Jesus, in complete trust in His Father, sleeps during the storm. The disciples, not recognizing the Son of God who sleeps in the boat with them, are terrified, certain of their impending deaths. Jesus is simply resting after a long day with the crowds; He is crossing to the other side of the lake. The disciples are simply afraid. “We’re going to die!” they say to the Son of God. And He asks, “Where is your faith?”
Our faith, even faith as tiny as a mustard seed, is enough that we also can rest through the windstorm and the raging waves; even enough that we can calm them with a word.
God makes it crystal clear that He is holy and just. In Him there is no darkness. He makes it even clearer that He is merciful. Throughout His Word, He speaks of and shows off His great hatred of disobedience, sin, and waywardness. Simultaneously, He speaks of and shows off His willingness and great desire to forgive, restore, and love those He calls His own.
Our part is believing these two truths regarding the nature of God. Believing in God’s wrath necessarily leads to fear, but “perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” (1 John 4:18) Our fear is rather awe of God, a marveling of God’s ability to “forgive the iniquity of Your people; You cover all their sin. You withdraw all Your wrath; You turn from Your hot anger.” (Psalm 85:2-3) “Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other. Faithfulness springs up from the ground, and righteousness looks down from the sky.” (Psalm 85:11)
Jesus proclaims, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:31-32) “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins; I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.” (Luke 5:24)
“If we confess our sins, [You] are faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” “For You, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon You.”
Where does it say that God knows the location of His servant, Job? In the Book of Job, the angels come “to present themselves before the Lord.” (Job 1:6) Satan is present with these angels. God says to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” (Job 1:8)
God’s question implies that He knows where Job is located and what he is doing.
Jesus confirms, “There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.” (Matthew 10:26) We are not capable of hiding from God. Remember, “even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid.” (Matthew 10:30)
My 9 year old Bichon Frise, Bolind’s Frosted Katie Hanna [Hanna for short] died suddenly this weekend. She began walking stiffly, then foaming at the mouth, vomiting water, with profound lethargy following. She died within 24 hours of the first symptoms. Apparently, the symptoms sounded like antifreeze poisoning to the vet, who was too busy to see her. And, I am currently having her dog food tested as a precaution. We buried Hanna in our backyard.
Jesus tells His apostles, “Come with Me by yourself.”
On top of my dog’s sudden death, my daughter is presently in Japan. Although she is currently safe, the constant news coverage of the six nuclear reactors in Fukushima being near meltdown has caused me some loss of sleep, despite my mental discipline of refusing to worry. I’ve actually discovered that I worry that she is worried!
Jesus says, “Come to a quiet place.”
Kindly, my supervisor at work allowed me an extra day to be at home this week. I initially thought the two days without Hanna and with my daughter in Japan might be depressing, but I needed that time to be with the Lord and to be in a quiet place.
Jesus says, “Get some rest.”
Here is the command from the Lord with which I believe many Christians have the most trouble. So much to do, so little time to do it all — how can I rest?
I can tell you from this week’s experiences — I needed a rest. I needed a quiet place. I needed to be by myself, alone with the Lord.
“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do not fret.” (Psalm 37:7) “Get some rest.”