"Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid" (Isaiah 12:2).
Fear is perhaps the oldest instinct; and the most universal. It has a legitimate role to play, in the preservation of life, and as a motivating engine in times of emergency. Yet, for all that, fear itself, can be terribly destructive. Rampant fear cripples and destroys. Some who are well, are afraid they will get sick. Others, being sick, are afraid they will get well, and hence have to take up their responsibilities once more. There are those who are afraid of growing old; of losing their youthful beauty. Some are afraid of relationships; afraid of love. Others worry they will lose love. One man is anxious because he thinks he may lose his job. But someone else is anxious because he might have to go to work. A woman is in nervous disarray because she thinks her husband is going to lose all the family's money. Another man is sick with fear because he thinks he is about to lose his good reputation.
Clearly, fear is a spoiler of human life. Perhaps the greatest boon that anyone could bring to the human race, would be to devise a way to banish fear. For this reason, the Bible, and the religious perspective that it presents, deserves serious consideration. Here are some practical proposals, that come from Scripture.
- Things we fear, usually don't last long. "Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning" (Psalm 30:5). In the midst of his many worries, Abraham Lincoln used to say, "This too, shall pass."
Once in Persia reigned a king
Who upon his signet ring,
Graved a maxim true and wise,
Which, if held before the eyes,
Gave him wisdom at a glance,
Fit for every change and chance.
Solemn words, and these are they:
'Even this shall pass away.'
- It is well to remember, that fear and worry are useless. Jesus spoke about this when he said: "Who by worrying, can add a single hour to his life?" (Matthew 6:27). Many are desperately afraid of the future. Yet Jesus wisely advised us to limit our concerns to the responsibilities of the present. "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own" Matthew 6:34).
- Related to the previous thought, is the simple fact that men and women allow themselves to be terrorized by things that never happen. For this reason, the best cure for anxiety is trust in the providence of God. The gospel of Jesus reveals a God who is kind, good, merciful and loving. He answers our longing for surety, not so much by removing the cause of our fear, but by being with us in all the circumstances of our life. He spreads a table for us "in the presence of our enemies."
When Paul was desperate for God to excise a problem from his life, the received reply was: "My grace is sufficient for you." To believe that existence is not a chance affair; that we are God's creatures, and that we are the objects of an infinite love, is to possess the key to dealing with fear. "This is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear" (1 John 4:18).
In 1583, in a stormy sea, the 'Golden Hind', commanded by Sir Walter Raleigh, drew along side another ship, the 'Squirrel', captained by Sir Humphrey Gilbert. The 'Squirrel' was foundering, and Raleigh shouted out across the waves for Gilbert to leave his ship and come aboard. But Gilbert refused, calling back: "Heaven is as near by sea as by land." Soon after the 'Squirrel' sank, and Gilbert with it.
"Heaven is as near by sea as by land." This is similar to Paul's assertion, that "Whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord" (Romans 14:8). "If God be for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31).
May your fears retreat, before God, in whom you trust.
Yours in service,
Ron J. Allen.