Fear can be good. The American Heritage Dictionary says that fear usually refers to a feeling of agitation and anxiety caused by the presence of danger. If fear causes us to run from danger, then it is good. However, fear can be the result of faulty thinking, and then it is bad. Many of us have unreasonable fears. We fear getting cancer when there is no indication that we have it or that we are likely to get it. Of course, fearing that we may get it will likely cause us stress, and stress is being studied as one of the reasons some people get cancer.
Many of us fear the things that we know we cannot control. In my case, I tend to fear getting up in the middle of the night and finding that the furnace has died or that there is water running somewhere where it shouldn’t be running. I am not enough of a handyman with the proper tools to correct these problems, and so I wonder what I would do if these things should happen when a repairman is not available to help. I’ve lived for over 35 years of married life and have never had a problem arise when help was not available, but that doesn’t stop me from fearing that it might.
Why do we have these fears? Is it because we really don’t believe God means it when He says that we are of more value than the sparrows for which He provides? Do we think we are alone in this life and that the Lord is not going to meet our needs and protect us? (Mt. 6:25-34). I suspect that our fears are based on the fact that we really have more confidence in ourselves than in the Lord, and we know that we are not sufficient to handle all the problems that could arise in our lives.
We see bad things happening to good people all the time. They have car accidents, their children get sick, or their spouses die untimely deaths. Recently, some people in an Omaha shopping mall were shot by a young man who then took his own life. We wonder how we would handle these things if they happened to us. The Lord does not promise to spare His children from the problems of living in this world. However, we shouldn’t forget that He has told us that He gives grace to meet these needs should they happen (2 Cor. 12:9).
Paul had a problem and he prayed earnestly three times that the Lord would remove it. But instead of removing the problem, the Lord showed Paul that he was strongest when he was weakest (2 Cor. 12:7-10). When we are weak we can’t depend upon ourselves, and then we find out that we must depend upon the Lord. We don’t get the salvation God has provided until we realize that we are helpless to save ourselves. And we don’t get the grace to meet the trials of life until we find out that we’re not sufficient to fix them ourselves.
Sometimes fear is not fear and trembling but the reverential awe which results from love and trust, particularly in our relationship with God. God is to be feared reverentially, and Solomon, the wise preacher, wrote that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov. 9:10). When we fear God, we recognize His power and His right to control our lives. But if we really love Him and trust Him, we should have the same confidence in the Lord that young children have in their parents. We should expect Him to take care of us. He may discipline us to make us better children (Heb 12:6), but we should never think that He’s going to leave us to flounder when life seems to be falling apart.
I don’t think we can truly love someone that we don’t trust. So if we love the Lord it means that we also trust Him. If we trust Him and He has promised to take care of us, then why fear? Perfect love casts out the wrong kind of fear.
By Bruce Collins
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org