If fear is so normal and inevitable, why would God– who created us, knows every natural thought, response, and inclination (because He perfectly designed them) take such care to tell us “Don’t be afraid?”
Seriously. That’s not rhetorical.
Why does God tell us not to be afraid?
You need to have an answer so you can guide others to the right answer. Why would a parent tell a child not to be afraid? Think about bedtime fears, jumping into the pool, trying something new, etc. Here are responses you might get: (I would love to hear any others!)
My parent would tell me not to be afraid at the water’s edge, dark of night, and on the brink of new and unknown because:
-They love me.
-They know the outcome.
-They know the outcomes are good.
-They know there is truly nothing to be afraid of.
-They know they can be trusted to keep me safe.
-They know they are near.
-They know their own strength, abilities, intentions, and love.
Do you see it yet? Hey Believer, did you know that God tells you not to be afraid for all the same reasons? I am not sure if anyone has told you today, but YOU have a Father—not just creator—but FATHER, and:
-He loves you.
-He knows the outcome.
-He knows the outcomes are good.
-He knows there is truly nothing to be afraid of.
-He knows He can be trusted to keep you safe.
-He knows He is always near.
-He knows His own strength, abilities, intentions, and love.
The Bible talks about fear a lot. Like a lot, A Lot. Many times, the Bible says specifically, DO NOT FEAR. And, a whole lot more “Fear Nots!” Let’s go on a little fear fact-finding mission of sorts.
This would be a great activity to get you and your kids, spouse, co-worker, etc. in the Word together. I am giving you just a few of the many verses on fear to look at.
Let’s do a little sentence diagramming, yes?! That only sounds fun to me, doesn’t it?
Make a list with only these two things on it: What is causing the fear? Why does the Lord tell them not to be afraid?
Jeremiah 42:11 Do not be afraid of the king of Babylon, whom you now fear. Do not be afraid of him, declares the LORD, for I am with you and will save you and deliver you from his hands.
Deuteronomy 20:1-4 When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them, because the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt, will be with you. When you are about to go into battle, the priest shall come forward and address the army. He shall say: “Hear, Israel: Today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not panic or be terrified by them. For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.”
Numbers 14:9 Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the LORD is with us. Do not be afraid of them.”
Acts 18:9 One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.” (It doesn’t specifically name his fear… but Paul was in danger and was soon accused and brought before a judge.)
Isaiah 44:8 Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.” (All of chapter 44 is an amazing account of God’s power and might and gives many reasons we should not be afraid… and all are because of who HE is.)
Are you getting the big picture? I just love God’s Word! There is nothing more fun than chasing a thread through Scripture and seeing what the Lord is trying to show us. It’s my very favorite detective work! For instance, when you start looking up the places that say, “DO NOT BE AFRAID…” and then start breaking those down, you find some really cool stories and patterns. Like in Joshua. Several times in Joshua we have “Do Not Fear” passages, but when I started looking at them, several are Joshua saying to others, not the Lord. So, does it still count?? Yeah, buddy!
Joshua is leading the Israelites through constant battle for the promised land, they were wanderers not warriors and yet they encounter enemy after enemy. Joshua, their leader, is trying to motivate them to overcome the fear that sentenced them to the wilderness in the first place, and march on. So, what does he do??? He quotes scripture. Directly. He quotes Deuteronomy 31:6.
Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.”
Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 10:8 The LORD said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid of them; I have given them into your hand. Not one of them will be able to withstand you.”
Joshua 10:25 Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous. This is what the LORD will do to all the enemies you are going to fight.”
Over and over, do not fear… FOR I AM… FOR I WILL… Be with you. Defend you. Will not fail you. If ever you feel like the cowardly lion, do not fret you’re in good company. Courage will not be found in an official scroll from the Great Oz. Nor will it be found rightly in your own strength, ability, or understanding. Courage is given to those who know the true LION and walk in step with HIM.
You, Believer, can equip others with hope and courage in the form of answers, truth, and scripts that can encourage today and empower tomorrow, whatever battle tomorrow brings.
That’s good news for every day, not just the spookiness of Halloween.
My favorite (Holy) Ghost story:
I was on a mission trip in New Orleans once with my husband and our youth group. It was a weird season for our family already, coming out of one spiritual battle only to find ourselves in another. It was a season marked by suffering and seeking the Lord. In New Orleans, the whole group was going on a riverboat cruise and I volunteered to stay on land and order the beignets from Cafe DuMonde so they would be ready upon arrival. As I stood at the water’s edge and watched my crew walk up the ramp onto the boat, I could hear a man shouting behind me. I prayed he wasn’t shouting at me but he was. “Hey! Are you a Christian?! Are you church people?!” I couldn’t tell if he was mocking but without looking it didn’t seem like he wanted a sincere answer. I turned around…because kids were watching…otherwise, I should have walked away and fast. I saw a homeless man I had noticed earlier sitting on a bench. As I turned around, he asked again, “Are you a Christian?” Yes, I am—we are on a mission trip. “Me, too,” he said.
I went and sat beside this man on the bench, and he began telling me that he too was a Christian and I was in his mission field. His name was Jose Ferrare. Seriously. At first, I think he tried to shock me with some of what he shared but the longer we talked the more absolute peace I had that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. Everything looked off—to the point that a few passerbyers asked if I needed help. Jose looked very rough and talked very loudly and was very animated. But all was at rest. I kept praying, “Lord, show me what I need to see here. Tell me what I need to say here. Show me if I need to be here and for how long.” Sit. Stay. Listen.
Jose was a recovering addict and in his backpack he had several cardboard signs he had made, each with a Bible verse or some statement. He stood on the corners of New Orleans every day, heralding his message. He would take out one and ask what I thought about it and then another. I think he expected me to object, but Scripture was used rightly and even his boldest claims of coming judgment were true. We ended up sitting together for a couple hours and having a memorable conversation, a story for another day. But while we sat there and visited, watching the people pass by, a couple of other homeless men were approaching. And I had my eye on them. Because it seemed one had their eye on me.
One of the men was staring right at me, full unflinching eye contact and the closer he got, the angrier and more unwell he looked. Jose had his back to them and was still talking, but I was watching every step for about 20 yards. At 10, I started shifting in my seat and emptying my hands in case I needed them. At 5, the man turned directly towards me and walked quickly to me until we were toe to toe. He was foaming at the mouth and kind of murmuring and growling. He loomed over me and was purposefully intimidating.
I couldn’t understand what he was saying. Until he said my name. “Sara.” LET ME TELL YOU WHAT—I was wide awake then, friends!! And Jose was too. Jose stood up and got between me and the other man and put his finger right in the man’s face and started yelling. “Leave her alone! In the name of Jesus, you leave right now!”
The disturbed man blinked, swallowed, looked confused and then walked away. Jose sat with me until my group came back on the boat. I bought Jose coffee and we shared beignets. I asked him to share his testimony with our kids.
How ’bout dat?
Bravery is easy when you are confident in the Lord. Jose taught me that. Some time I will tell you the story about the car wreck and the snake. That’s a good one too.