The general consensus is that the phrase, “Fear not” shows up in the Bible about 365 times. In fact, it is the most repeated command in the scriptures. Whether it’s Mary, Joseph or Joshua, we are all familiar with stories of an angel or God himself telling people not to be afraid.
This phrase can be problematic. For many of us, “Fear not!” implies that there is something wrong with being afraid. When we make the mistake of thinking we are not supposed to experience fear, shame is lurking just around the corner. I have often felt that my anxiety and fear are evidence of a lack of faith.
I don’t think this is the message we see in the Bible 365 times. The truth we find in the big picture of scripture isn’t that God expects us not to experience fear but that he is encouraging us that, whatever the situation, he has brought all his love, grace and power to the table.
In high school one of my favorite things to do was explore abandoned buildings with a couple of my closest friends. None of us would ever have shown up to those places alone, but together, we actually enjoyed the adventure. I wouldn’t have done that with just anyone either–only the small circle of guys I knew would never leave me alone. It didn’t matter if some hideous monster leapt out of the shadows or if the police showed up, I knew we would stick together.
God’s promise is not that he will stop life from happening to us, but he does promise that he is in the business of leveraging good out of tragedy. On your worst day–when your worst fears are realized–God is with you and prepared to squeeze redemption out of your pain and fear.
I want to encourage you to “fear not”– however, I want to be sure you hear it the way God means it, “Of course you are afraid in an uncertain and sinful world, but I am here… I will never leave… I will make good from bad.”
Maybe I can take some liberties with something John Wayne once said, “Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway (…because God has brought all his power and love into the adventure.)”.