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Home > Online Magazine > Online Magazine: Edition 38 - December 2010 / January 2011 > Fear (by Isabel Tew)


by Isabel Tew

Fear (based on a very old article in the Signs Magazine written by H M S Richards)

How many of you ever felt afraid?

Is there any good reason for fear?   There may be occasions when fear leads us to act in ways that protect us from danger - we call that survival

But generally fear has damaging effects on the fabric of our lives

Medical authorities now state that nine-tenths of the diseases from which mankind suffers are aggravated by fear and anxiety.  No wonder hospitals are overflowing and there are not enough beds to meet the needs.

Should Christians be afraid of anything or anybody?  There is a simple text for this.  Who wants to be first to quote Jesus' answer without even opening their Bible?   "Don't let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me."  John 14:1 NIV.   If we really trust in God and His Son fear should have no power over our lives.  This verse also shows the antidote to fear - trust (or if you want another word beginning with F- faith).

Just out of interest there are as many injunctions to have faith and trust as there are references to fear in the Bible.    It would be well worth while for each of us to memorise a few to strengthen us in our daily battles.

"I will trust, and not be afraid." Isaiah 12:2.  

The great Scottish preacher, John M'Neill, tells of an experience in his boyhood. He had been to town, and was late getting started to tramp the six or seven miles back to his home. It was a very dark night, and the road, which led through a lonely glen and the mountains, had a bad name. In the very densest of the darkness, in the most lonely spot, and when his heart was beating so furiously that he could hear it pounding in his ears, suddenly there rang out a great, strong, cheery voice  -  "Is that you, Johnny?"    "It was my father," he says, "the bravest, strongest man I ever knew." And then he adds: "Many a time since, when things were getting very black and gloomy about me, I have heard a voice greater than that of any earthly father cry: `Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God.' Isaiah 41:10."

Our heavenly Father knows us well. He created us and knows our nature. He knows how prone we are to fear. "He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust." Psalm 103:14.

H.M.S. Richards often told the story of his youngest son, when he was about five years old. One night when it was exceedingly dark, they took a walk up into the mountain at the back of their home. The path went among the evergreen trees, and there wasn't a ray of light. As they started out the son talked constantly, but as the path got darker and steeper, he talked less. Finally, taking his father's hand and walking as close as he could get, he said in almost a whisper, "Daddy, we're not afraid, are we?"

No, we were not, but he was.  Yet the touch of my hand gave him courage and faith. He would go anywhere I would go. His fear and his confidence were a sermon to me. They brought back to my mind these words of Scripture: "For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee." Isaiah 41:13. "Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art Mine." Isaiah 43:1. Just as I loved my little son and assuaged his fears, so God loves me and assuages mine.

John Wesley thought he was a true Christian, until one day his ship was caught in a terrible storm on the Atlantic, and fear came into his heart. The only people on board who were not terror-stricken, he noticed, were a little group of Moravian missionaries. When the storm was over he asked one of them, "Were you not afraid?"   "Afraid? Why should I be afraid? I know Christ." Then, looking at Wesley, with disconcerting frankness he asked, "Do you know Christ?" For the first time in his life, Wesley realised that he did not truly know Him. But we can thank God that it was not long until he did know God as few men in modem times have known Him.

It was when the Apostle Peter took his eyes off the Lord Jesus on the stormy sea that he began to sink in the waters.   A vicar was preaching one Sunday and startled his congregation with the way he began. "I want to give you some good advice," he said. "Don't squint." No wonder the people sat up and listened. Then he described how Peter, at the command of Christ, stepped out of the boat and walked on the sea toward his Lord. "But when he saw the wind boisterous," he began to sink. Then he prayed one of the shortest prayers, if not the shortest, in the Bible "Lord, save me." Jesus stretched out His hand and saved him, and brought him back into the boat. And the Lord said unto him, "Wherefore didst thou doubt?"  Matthew 14:31.

Now, this word doubt means "looking two ways at once." Why did Peter begin to sink? Because he had one eye upon Christ and the other eye upon the billows and the storm and the danger around him. Many of us Christians are full of fear because we try to look both ways at once - at God and His care, but also at the troubles around us.

The angel Gabriel said to Daniel, "Fear not." Daniel 10:12. And the prophets Zephaniah, Haggai, and Zechariah echoed the same blessed words, "Fear not, fear not."   When the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph to announce the birth of Jesus, he said, "Fear not"; and those were blessed words in this time of perplexity.   When Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, was astonished in' the temple, an angel told him not to fear. And there on the moonlit hills of Judea the angel said to the shepherds: "Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings." Luke 2:10.

At the tomb of the resurrection the angel said to the holy women: "Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here.... Come, see the place where the Lord lay." Matthew 28:5,6.

Over and over, Jesus told His disciples not to fear. At the miraculous draught of fishes He said to the Apostle Peter, "Fear not" (Luke 5:10); and to Jairus, who had just heard that his daughter was dead, "Fear not, believe only." Luke 8:50. And how wonderful are  His words to us: "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom"! Luke 12:32.

Someone has said that "Fear not" is the watermark of the Word of God, from Genesis to Revelation.

"Fear not," the angel said to the Apostle Paul (Acts 27:24). And Paul wrote to Timothy: "God hath not given us the spirit of fear." 2 Timothy 1:7.  And, in the last book of the Bible, Christ said to lonely John on Patmos: "Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore." Revelation 1:17,18.

Many Christians are prisoners of their. own fear - fears which prove to be nothing when pushed against with the hand of faith. The Bible says that those who are fearful are those of little faith (Matthew 8:26). Fearfulness and unbelief go together at the last (Revelation 21:8). But it is our privilege to --

Trust and obey,
For there's no other way
To be happy in Jesus,
But to trust and obey.

Home > Online Magazine > Online Magazine: Edition 38 - December 2010 / January 2011 > Fear (by Isabel Tew)