I’m a chicken. What am I afraid of? You name it. Illness, poverty, war, environmental catastrophe, embarrassment. The list could go on forever and I’d add something new to it every day. Fear is a part of our lives. Even when good things happen, we are afraid they aren’t real, or we are being scammed, or what about the taxes on this thing?
Fear keeps me from doing what I want to do, or should do, or from achieving what is possible. A friend of mine recently figured out that what he thought was a bad habit of procrastination was in reality fear. He was afraid he’d fail, so he put things off. No completion, no failure. I can relate to that.
Looking around, I can tell that my friend and I are not unique. We all have our demons, our monsters in the closet, our phobias. While fear may or may not define your life, it certainly plays a large role in it. Even Jesus knew fear. In the Garden of Gethsemane, He was so overwhelmed with distress at his coming torture and death, that he literally “sweated blood.” Fear is a part of being human. Maybe it comes from our biological past. We may be at the top of the food chain now, but there was a time when we were just something else’s lunch, waiting for the dinner bell. Fear is hardwired into our bodies.
Then why does God constantly tell us not to be afraid? Someone counted and said there are 365 places in the Bible where He tells us not to be afraid. Theft, murder and adultery don’t get that much ink, why fear? Doesn’t He know that we are born scared?
Yes, He does. Fear isn’t a sin. The Bible doesn’t say, “Thou shalt not fear.” It’s a natural part of being mortal. When God formed us, He knew we would need to know when to run from lions and bears (and icky spiders that I know are evil and out to get me, even though my wife says I’m being a wimp).
God is our Father. More than that, He is our Abba. Like our mortal fathers, He knows that fear is needed to keep us safe during our time on Earth. But like our mortal Daddies, He also knows that sometimes we fear things that are not real, or that we can overcome. He knows what comes next, and He has made it to be good for us. So He tells us over and over again, “do not be afraid, I am with you.”