There is more fear in the world today than ever. Political leaders here and abroad, indeed, people everywhere are uneasy about the very survival of civilization. Fear now permeates virtually every society on earth. The reasons for this fear abound: cataclysmic weapons, pollution, terrorism, wars and rebellions, incurable diseases, economic stress, natural disasters, and more. Billions are tormented by a fear of death, as if death is the most horrible of things. While it is true that death is an enemy (1Cor. 15:26), it is a defeated enemy for the believer, a mere gateway to home with our Lord Jesus, who came to "destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage."
Return to the Faith
No child of God need be found among the unbelieving and terror-stricken people of this world. "For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear," wrote Paul, "but you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father."
Brother, sister, the answer to your fear lies in your return to the faith. Multitudes of truly converted people have grown weak in faith and are searching frantically for peace in the face of fear. Many are fleeing to doctors, only to be told, "I can do nothing more for you. I've done all that I can do." Others are attempting through political action to establish a social stability and security which nothing but Jesus' return will accomplish. How sad to see the saints forsake their "mighty weapons" and turn to the weak methods of man for help!
If there ever was a time when we needed to rediscover the Source of our strength, it is now. Outside of Christ, there is nothing but fear and more fear. This troubled world needs examples of fearless, consecrated believers, so that men may know that Christ Jesus is God's eternal remedy for the affliction of fear.
You remember the story of David, the young shepherd, and Goliath, the giant warrior (1Sam. 17). David had brought some food from home for his three oldest brothers who were serving in King Saul's army. When he looked across the valley that separated Israel's forces from the Philistines, David spied a terrifying sight: Goliath had come out of the camp of the Philistines and was arrogantly defying the armies of Israel, saying, "Why are you come out to set your battle in array? Am I not a Philistine, and you servants of Saul? Choose you a man for you, and let him come down to me. If he be able to fight with me, and to kill me, then will we be your servants. But if I prevail against him, and kill him, then shall you be our servants, and serve us. And the Philistine said, I defy the armies of Israel this day. Give me a man, that we may fight together. When Saul and all Israel heard those words of the Philistine, they were dismayed, and greatly afraid. And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him, and were sore afraid."
When David saw the fear of Saul and his soldiers, he said to Saul, "Let no man's heart fail because of him. Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine. And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherds' bag which he had . . . and his sling was in his hand. And he drew near to the Philistine. And the Philistine said to David, Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the fowls of the air and to the beasts of the field. Then said David to the Philistine, You come to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. And it came to pass, when the Philistine arose, and came and drew nigh to meet David, that David hasted, and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine. And David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone, and slang it, and smote the Philistine in his forehead, that the stone sunk in his forehead, and he fell upon his face to the earth. So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and smote the Philistine and slew him, but there was no sword in the hand of David. Therefore David ran, and stood upon the Philistine, and took his sword, and drew it out of the sheath thereof, and slew him, and cut off his head with it. And when the Philistines saw their champion was dead, they fled."
I like that story, don't you? A giant defying the armies of God, with no one able to stop him until he met someone who had no fear. Later, David would explain his courage in a song: "In God I have put my trust. I will not fear what flesh can do to me" (Ps. 56:4).
Reader, if you do not have faith in your heart to overcome your fears, you simply haven't accepted the Word of God at face value. God has promised that, "we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him, all the days of our lives."
No Fear in Love
Those whose lives are wrapped up in themselves, who depend on their own powers, have cause to fear, for they must, in time, realize their weaknesses and limitations. On the other hand, those who trust in God to be their strength and wisdom find that He is sufficient, and they need not be afraid. "For he has said, I will never leave you nor forsake you. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do to me" (Heb. 13:5-6).
Fear is the result of unbelief, a work of the devil. John tells us "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear has torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love" (1Jn. 4:18). It was David's love perfected in fellowship with God that enabled him to say, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me" (Ps. 23:4). Doubtless, at the time David uttered this Psalm, he was thinking of the valley of Elah, where he fought Goliath.
The feeling that we are alone will also cause fear. That is why God tells us, "Fear not, for I am with you" (Gen. 26:24). Oh, how God has commanded us ministers to "say unto them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not" (Isa. 35:4). Weakness also produces fear, and strength destroys it. Consequently, the Psalmist exulted, "The Lord is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life. Of whom shall I be afraid? Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear. Though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident" (Ps. 27:1, 3).
Fear is contagious. When officers in the Israelite army found a soldier who was afraid of battle, they "let him go and return to his house, lest his brother's heart faint as well as his heart" (Dt. 20:8). Gideon, you remember, lost 22,000 men on such a cleanup. Yet the 300 men who eventually went to battle with him were sufficient, for they trusted in God to be their Helper. Fearful men are worthless to God and to men.
A Timely Promise . . . and a Warning
God gave us a great promise, but a timely warning, when He said, "He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. But the FEARFUL, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death" (Rev. 21:7-8). After reading this, we are not surprised at Isaiah (33:14) saying, "The sinners in Zion are afraid. Fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrite. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?"
May God help us prayerfully consider the advice to Zophar, one of Job's friends, who counseled Job, "If iniquity be in your hand, put it far away, and let not wickedness dwell in your tabernacles. For then shall you lift up your face without spot. Yea, you shall be steadfast, and shall not fear" (Job 11:14-15).
The Fearless Voyage
by George C. Clark
The waters were calm. No storm could be seen
When we started our voyage with the meek Nazarene.
But fearful we grew, afraid of the trip,
While soundly he slept on the stern of the ship.
His sleep we disturbed with cries of distress.
He calmed every fear and gave us sweet rest.
Our rest is now fearless as onward we sail,
And why should we fear, whatever assails?
The Lord is our life; salvation is near.
Our faith is in Jesus, so what should we fear?
With Christ as our Pilot, our Skipper, and King,
We sail any ocean and not fear a thing.
He promised to land us. The promise is made.
Then, stay in the vessel and be not afraid.