Are you sometimes tired of living in fear? Everybody fears something. Some people are terrified of the needles used to give injections or to draw blood. Others panic when they see a spider. But those fears are momentary and generally don’t trouble us all day, every day. The big fears are the ones that lurk in the back of our minds day after day–fear of death, fear of rejection, fear of failure, just to name a few.
The times in which we live foster an atmosphere of anxiety and impending bad news. News–or what passes for news–is never more than a click away. You know the adage, “Never let a crisis go to waste.” Home invasion stories, financial nightmare articles, and those “New Studies Reveal …” stories can ratchet up our uneasiness. Even advertising plays on underlying human fears.
We fear things that may lead to lost opportunities, closed doors, termination from work, the end of a relationship, or feelings of inadequacy. Those things really may happen, … or maybe they won’t. Nobody wants to live under a pall of fear. Is it possible to escape it? Well, the title of this post obviously declares that we can. So how does this work? How does Jesus Christ deliver people from fear in our 21st Century lives?
What Are the Fearful Looking For?
When we’re afraid, what is it that we’re really searching for? The guarantee of a certain, acceptable outcome? A “safety net” to catch us just in case things don’t go according to plan? Someone to come and just take away all the scary stuff in life?
Think about a small child first learning to swim. If they’ve ever choked in the pool, getting back in and trying again can be pretty scary. They want a guarantee that Mom or Dad won’t let them go under that way again. They want to know that they’ll be caught and supported before they get exhausted. Yet if all the scary stuff is totally taken away, they’ll never know the joy and relaxation of water sports, will they? They have to trust someone who they know is big enough, strong enough, and capable enough a “life guard” to get them past their fear to the joy on the other side.
Knowing the Bigger Picture of Jesus
As my pastor said in his Sunday message this weekend, Jesus Christ didn’t just die for us; He lives for us today and always! He is actively ministering on our behalf at all times. Not to diminish by one iota the sacrificial work of Jesus Christ on the cross or His resurrection–for these constitute the basis of every other blessing available in Christ–but if this is all we think of in regard to Jesus’ work on our behalf, then it is quite possible that the trials and troubles of this earthly life may deceive and overwhelm us in such waves of fear that we may walk away, never having allowed Christ to minister to us as He so powerfully is able to in our moment of need.
Jesus’ Promises for Those Who Believe
1. Jesus’ Presence with Us
When you were first learning to swim, and Mom said, “Don’t worry; I won’t let go of you,” did you trust her? Well, Jesus promised, “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) God also said, “I will never leave you and I will never abandon you.” (Hebrews 13:5)
Jesus is our safety net. My bank account certainly isn’t much of a safety net. Even an insurance policy, although a good idea, is not a guarantee of ultimate security. Your parents may help out financially or with moral support, but even they are not able to protect us from everything that causes fear. Storm shutters, airbags, parachutes–get what you feel you need to get, but ultimately there are bigger forces at work, and only God is big enough to handle all contingencies.
2. Jesus’ Provision for Us
Jesus told His disciples not to worry, even about the most fundamental needs of life–food and covering. He feeds the birds, and He clothes the grass with wildflowers of amazing beauty. Not a bird falls to the ground without our Maker noticing it. The fields, beautifully clothed and adorned with wildflowers, will wither and maybe even be burned. God notices, and He didn’t waste the beauty on the fields.
If God cares for birds and grass, we know that He cares for us who are made in His image. I’ve seen men and women lined up at rescues missions, waiting for a meal and some clean, second-hand clothes. If I think that’s shameful, what makes me think I’m a bit better than them? Does God owe me wealth because I’m such a paragon of virtue and goodness? Not at all. He will provide, or He’ll take us Home. That’s up to Him, and He is trustworthy.
3. Jesus’ Victory over Death for Us
Jesus said, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Instead, fear the one who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28) Jesus doesn’t want us to fear death. For the Christian, death is just the doorway to glory. By guaranteeing believers eternal life, Jesus Christ has robbed death of its power. Hebrews 2:14-15 says that Jesus “shared in our humanity so that through death He could destroy the one who holds the power of death (that is, the devil), and set free those who were held in slavery all their lives by their fear of death.”
From Christians who are enduring physical persecution in North Korea this very day to the person lying on a gurney, ready to be wheeled into a surgical suite, death’s power over us is neutralized by the realization that the worst that could happen from this world’s perspective–death–is totally in God’s hands. He can leave us here to continue on in His service, or He can take us into the joy of His glorious presence. (2 Corinthians 5:8)
Our peace in the matter of fear is commensurate with our trust in the One who promises to be there for us. The apostle Paul certainly had that kind of trust when he wrote, “And my God will supply your every need according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)
The more we get to know Christ Jesus, the less we find we need to fear.