Over 300 times, actually.
Over 300 times, God’s people are told, in scripture, to not be afraid.
That is not nothing.
Fear is an old foe of mine. A familiar enemy. And, with one phone call this morning, it reared its ugly head yet once again.
I despise what fear does, to my soul. And to my mind. Despise it.
In life overall, there is not much I am afraid of. I have no real phobias that I can name. I don’t like spiders, but I’m not afraid of them. I’m not afraid of heights, I’m not fearful of new or unfamiliar places, I’m not afraid of flying, I’m not afraid of speaking in front of crowds, I’m not afraid of germs. I never lock my doors (I wouldn’t recommend that, actually, now that I think about it), I would have no real fear of traveling to a dangerous part of the world, I am not fearful of losing my life or of being injured.
However, there are a small, small handful of things that terrorize me.
Maybe terrorize is too strong of a word. But when in the midst of being swallowed by those fears, it doesn’t seem to strong. I am all-too-familiar with middle-of-the-night-panics. I am all-too-familiar with parenting fears. I am all-too-familiar with the experience of jarring phone calls.
Such was the call I received this morning, as I wrapped up practicing the morning’s worship set at church, before Sunday School.
Fear is an interesting experience, in that it sharpens our senses when we are in the midst of it. Or, at least, it can. It can heighten our awareness, as we are “on edge”. Sometimes things become disorienting–yes, I have known that to be truth. But I have also know fear to cause an increased hyper-awareness of the atmosphere and surroundings. Shadows on the wall. Noises. The hum of an air conditioner. The musty smell of old books. The ticking of a clock.
Time slows to a crawl.
Where is God, in those moments?
300 times. 300 times. 300 times.
God commands us to not fear. He pleads with us to not fear. He assures us and tells us to not be afraid.
If it were not so important to God, He would not have addressed it so much, in scripture.
If He were not aware that fear would be a constant pull in our lives–if He were not such a knowing God–He would not have addressed it so much, in scripture.
If He was not our only hope in the attack–for it is just that, an attack–of fear in our souls and minds, He would not have addressed it so much, in scripture.
Do not be afraid.
Do not be afraid.
Do not be afraid.
Do not fear.
But, we are human. We are fallible. We are sinful, even. And when bathed in the sweat-producing, heart-pounding, soul-shaking moments of fear, it is so very hard to remember those 300+ times in scripture. I know that full well. I knew it this morning.
But, here is where I want to start to land, in those moments. Here is where I want to put a stake in my mind, because those moments that have come, will come again. Here is where I–and you–and all of us who refer to ourselves as Christ-followers should pursue with all of our souls and minds:
….That in those moments, when fear astounds and the shadows loom large and the clock stands still and our hearts pound and we shake with fear….in those very moments that we are so fully aware of being overcome with fear…
…that we will also train our souls and minds to be fully aware of our only hope in the fear: Our Lord and our God. Our Savior, who not only saves us from eternal separation from Him, but who also saves us from ourselves, and who saves us from our fears.
Or, maybe it is not so much that He saves us from our fears, as it is that He delivers us from them:
Or, maybe it is the exact same thing. Maybe He saves us from our fears, because He delivers us from them.
All of them, if scripture is truth.
And, I know that it is.
Oh God, deliver us from our fears. Teach us to trust You; even when swallowed by fears. Enable us to trust you, because if You do not, we will not know how. And in those moments of fear, make our awareness of You overshadow our awareness of all else. When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. Psalm 56:3