Times are tough. Even if you try to avoid media, it seems that tough economic, political and religious times are upon us. Honestly, while closing our eyes tightly and putting our fingers in our ears to block out what we wish so heartily was not true sometimes seems viable, in the end, we cannot keep our eyes closed or our fingers in our ears forever. Looking at the evil in the world can cause many heart-felt questions, answered best by the Word and character of God and people like Ben Patterson (Waiting), and C.S. Lewis (The Problem of Pain).
Even if our minds are satisfied that evil comes as a result of the wretched sin (individual or that handed down to us in the Fall), the terrors of what humans are capable of and physical world groaning under the load of our sin, can be downright terrifying. And that is in the world at large. Even in our own communities, churches, and homes there is so often cause for alarm and fear.
And what does our God say? We are told “Do not fear.”
Angels said it now and again- at most, if not all ,of their known appearings. Jesus tells his followers not to fear.
Do not fear. But this emotion is overwhelming me and paralyzing me. What do you mean “Do not fear?!”
Christians believe that God is loving, and kind, and is not capricious. He would not ask something that He would not enable us to do. If it is a command, we can obey. We are to think on what is true, right and lovely. While we are to know the signs of the times, we are also to fix out eyes on our Savior and Redeemer.
The fear I am speaking is a product of unbelief, and in Revelation 21:8, those who are fearful, unbelieving, or whoremongers, sorcerers and the like face the second death.
That woke me up. Fearfulness is serious business.
Now this word for fear is used only three times in the New Testament and is always associated with unbelief. Other than the reference in Revelation, both times this word is used it was in the midst of a terrible storm that these experienced fishermen were not able to navigate. They had come to the end of what they were able to do and were helpless to rescue themselves. It is at that point, when they were in mortal danger and helpless, that they were to trust the Master of the Universe in humble form.
Rick De Guzman, a Christian brother from a remote region of the Philippines, spoke to our little meeting today about the time in when the Israelites, having been delivered, fed and sheltered by God faced a potentially deadly situation. They despaired. They accused. They blamed. They desired to become traitors, and return to their bondage rather than face what appeared certain death. God, through Moses told the Israelites three things.
See God work.
Fear not. The fear spoken of here, as seen when compared to other verses using the same Hebrew word, seems to be a mortal fear. Jacob was afraid when meeting Esau. Adam and Eve were afraid of meeting God after they disobeyed. But they were commanded to capture this fear, a great use of self-control and put our trust in God.
Stand still. There are battles we cannot fight. There are battles we are commanded by God to fight though they look absurdly impossible, like young shepherd against the military hero giant. But both start with stopping our emotions, our plans, our strategies, our strivings and position ourselves to see God. The word means to “present” or “station oneself”. It conjures, in my mind, a soldier awaiting orders or a sentry on duty. It is not an idle, passive action, but seems to connotate a turning of our attention away from ourselves.
See God. Watch Him work. He provides salvation. He does it. Of course, there are all sorts of implications. First, and foremost is that we cannot accomplish salvation for ourselves. That is done by the incarnation, life, death and resurrection of Christ, and His work in us to compel us to Himself. For believers, here is a great article that reminds us that God is often at work. We just need to see it.