Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Fearful Faith

How do you co-habitate with fear? How, as a person of faith, do you allow fear to be a real part of your being? How do you respond to the command, "Do not fear", when you feel fear in some form on a daily basis.

I spoke with a friend who talked to me of his fear that maybe he made a mistake in his job choice? Wondering out loud, he said he was questioning if he had the "goods". He rubbed his cheeks hard and described the weariness he felt.

In a small group in which I participated for several weeks this past spring, I listened to several strong, deeply committed women share their stories of fear and faith. Some fears had been conquered, but most fears remained present on a daily basis...fear of not being taken care of, fear of not being able to start a family, fear of being consumed by an alcoholic family member, fear of the pain of a debilitating illness, fear of abandonment in it's many forms. Fear was a common denominator. But, so was faith.

Our community recently saw an outpouring of discussion and debate and anger and hurt regarding an amendment to our state constitution that defines the only legal marriage as one that involves one man and one woman. Fear was stirred and emotions were played out on both sides. Cries against and for revealed how strongly fears influence behavior. Fears of the threat of apostasy and impurity battled alongside fears of injustice and bigotry and hatred. Both sides declared with conviction that faith was their strong ally.

Wikipedia encapsulates the essence of fear that you can read here: . I'll not venture to reword what has already been written concisely and rather well. But, with the subject floating around in my mind, life, and in my community for months now, I thought I should open the door and invite discussion.

I googled:  "How many times does scripture say, 'Do not fear.' ?" I did a search on my smartphone Bible app and got "pages" of scripture references. Loudly and clearly the commandment is stated. Hundreds of times we are exhorted to NOT fear, yet we all know we keep failing. Failure tends to breed denial because who wants to confess they are afraid. We usually end up in an even deeper pit because the residual affects of shame and guilt or anger and bitterness are added to the mix. I heard my small group friends' voices and their tears communicate their unspoken thoughts, "I shouldn't be afraid, if I am a Christian."

Fear and Faith ... two big "F" words. In this life of waiting for Christ to return, receiving the antidote for the first and the source of the second are part of God's completed, consummated promise. We can believe this:  the antidote for fear and the source of faith can be asked for, searched for, and discovered when we walk through the door into his Kingdom .... over and over again, coming around on a daily basis as we receive our daily bread. Like the children of Israel in the years between their deliverance from slavery in Egypt and their final entrance into the Promised land, we circle and we practice faith as it is given to us. God gives and we choose to receive and He teaches and we hope to learn. We forget and we remember. And we deny and then accept the love of God as He made the ultimate blood sacrifice through His only Son. And so, He can command us, "Do not fear." From His perspective, it is finished. The price has been paid for our release. The keys have turned in the prison cell door. From our perspective .... it depends. It is simple and it is not.

How is God's story of truth being written into your life? How is your character changing as the chapters unfold. Can you allow yourself to flip to the last pages and know how the story ends. Can you see how knowing the end can impact on your reading of the middle of the story?

Responses are encouraged.


  1. I think the bazillion variations on “Fear not” are less commands than invitations. “Be courageous” is limited in its use, always associated with going into battle (mostly in Joshua); but “don’t be afraid” shows up in every imagineable setting. The best context for understanding it, to me, is John 14 – “Let not your hearts be troubled; trust in God, trust also in Me.” So Christ's invitation is to walk with Him in trust, rather than being owned by fear (or our own impoverished understanding).

    You wrote an excellent piece.

    God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform;
    He plants His footsteps in the sea, and rides upon the storm.
    Deep in His dark and hidden mines, with never-failing skill,
    He fashions all His bright designs, and works His sovereign will.

    So God, we trust in You.
    O God, we trust in You.
    When tears are great, and comforts few,
    We hope in mercies ever new:
    We trust in You.

    Oh fearful saints, new courage take; the clouds that you now dread
    Are big with mercy and will break in blessings on your head.
    Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, but trust Him for His grace;
    Behind a “frowning” providence we find His smiling face.

    God’s purposes will ripen fast, unfolding every hour;
    The bud may have a bitter taste, but sweet will be the flower.
    Blind unbelief is sure to err, and scan His work in vain;
    God is His own interpreter, and He will make it plain.

    Hymn text by William Cowper, 1774. Music and additional text by Bob Kauflin, 2005.
    © 2005 Sovereign Grace. CCLI #43066.

  2. A beautiful entry. I also struggle with fear versus faith as I await a neurosurgeon's visit for a mass in my skull. But truth be known, I struggle with some sort of fear on a daily basis. So glad to have found your blog. It is apparent how much insight I can gain from your writings. Many blessings to you!