Reading the news can induce fear. We read about threats of violence in our schools, a dangerous man running loose near our home, explosives in mailboxes, and weather that destroys. There is much to fear in this world. Fear has a unique power; sometimes it paralyzes us, and sometimes it produces panic-stricken overreaction. Ever since Adam said, “I was afraid,” after sinning in the garden of Eden (Genesis 3:10), human existence has been dominated by fear.
With so much to fear, it’s remarkable how often God tells his people not to fear in the Bible. When Scripture paints a picture of a wise woman, she’s pictured as one who doesn’t fear the future, even laughing at the unknown time to come (Proverbs 31:21, 25). Similarly, a wise man is characterized by the same fearlessness (Psalm 112:7-8). What banishes fear? For both “the Proverbs 31 woman” and “the Psalm 112 man,” paradoxically, it’s an alternative fear, fearing God (Proverbs 31:30; Psalm 112:1).
Treatises have been written to attempt to explain what fearing God means. At bare minimum, it means taking God and his word seriously, not only his warnings of judgment but also his promises of love and protection. What motivates “the Proverbs 31 woman” to live without fear? The poem draws attention to her hard work to prepare for the unknowns of the future. But what motivates her hard work? It’s the same thing that motivates “the Psalm 112 man” to live without fear: “his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD.” Paradoxically, faith is the key to fearing God.
When our eyes see threats and danger, how can faith in the invisible God motivate us to overcome fear? We are trusting someone who loves us perfectly (see 1 John 4:16-21). If our Father can ensure that an event as horrific as the crucifixion of Jesus results in ultimate, eternal good for his children, can’t we live as people without fear of the threats in this world (Romans 8:28-39)? God’s children really do experience pain, but living in fear of that pain before it comes is no way to live.
Mr. Justin Langley is Minister of Discipleship of Kilgore Bible Church in Kilgore. You can reach him through the congregation’s website: www.kilgorebiblechurch.org.