The Reality of Fear, the Power of Faith

With foresight known only fully to God, the editors of this month’s Tabletalk magazine chose as its theme “Fear.” Yes, fear – with article titles such as “The Reality of Fear,” Fear of a Changing World,” Fear of Financial Loss,” “Fear of Being Alone,” “Fear of Disease and Disability,” and “Fear of Dying” – all fitting especially now.

So, on this last night of March, we pull some words of comfort and peace from two articles in this issue. At the same time, I encourage you to look up and read any of these other articles too. They are all profitable, especially in these days and times.

First, we hear Ed Welch as he speaks of “The Reality of Fear,” but also ends with what God says to us in our fears.

When the Spirit takes you into passages about fear and anxiety, you will hear three persistent refrains. First, God speaks beautiful and attractive words to His fearful people. Don’t be quick to expect rebuke, though there is room for confession and repentance in all of life. Instead, expect compassion. Expect comfort.

Second, the Lord promises that He is with us, and He will never leave us or forsake us (Heb. 13:5). This is the promise that includes all others. Jesus Christ died for sins “that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). Fearful people are the ones who are in a position to cherish the gospel.

Third, since the Lord is present and He is the God who is sovereign over tomorrow, we can give our full attention to our God-given mission today (Matt. 6:33–34). Today we have all the grace we need. Today we have the Spirit of power who gives us courage for small steps of obedience even when tomorrow seems quite bleak. When tomorrow comes, the Spirit will again give us the power and courage that we need. Grace is new every morning.

Fears and anxieties are everywhere in life and in Scripture. Since they are such constants, these three refrains are not merely a way to stand against our fears, but they summarize the pattern of Christian growth.

The second article we choose to reference is that of pastor Eric Watkins, “Fear Not, for I Am With You.”

What God expected of His people was faith in His promise and presence. The opposite of being “frightened and dismayed” is to be “strong and courageous.” There was only one problem: the people were sinfully afraid. Their courage waned more than it waxed, and eventually God would have to do even more for His covenant people. And He did. Many years and episodes later, against the backdrop of an even gloomier stage, God raised up another deliverer—the Prophet more faithful than Moses and the Captain more successful than Joshua. Jesus, the Son of God, came into the world to transform this stage of foreboding darkness into one of radiant hope. He came to do battle with all that threatens us, and He overcame our greatest fear—death itself—by His own life, death, and resurrection.

Is it any surprise that in the resurrection narrative in Matthew 28, God’s people were told not to fear? First, the angels told the women at the tomb not to be afraid (v. 5); next, Jesus, having risen from the dead, told the women to say the same thing to the disciples (v. 10); and finally, Jesus gave us the Great Commission with the singular promise that banishes our fear: “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (v. 20).

Israel’s tendency was to be “frightened and dismayed.” So is ours. At times, fear grips the heart and boggles the mind, causing us to do the wrong thing at times and hindering us from doing what we ought to do. But we must remember that we are accompanied by One who is far stronger than anything that threatens us—and He is not afraid. There are still many giants in the land. But the One who is with us is greater. He has already defeated His and our enemies. He is victoriously subduing hearts just as He promised. He is working faith in us just as He promised. And the greatest comfort any of us can have—no matter how frightening or dismaying this world may be—is that Jesus, the Captain of our salvation, is with us always, even to the end of the age.

Source: The Reality of Fear | Tabletalk