Fear stinks. I’m not here talking about the holy, reverent, proper fear of God. I’m talking about all the rest of fear. I’m talking about the fear of man—they might know me, they might hurt me, they might not like me. I’m talking about the fear of the future—I might get sick, I might not have enough money, I might not survive.
How do I know fear stinks? God’s word is pretty clear about that fact. And, if I’m honest, I know what it is like to be afraid. No matter how strong any of us pretends to be, we deal with fears. Whether your constitution is generally more robust or weaker, I expect that you know something of fear. And, let’s be honest, it really stinks.
I thought a bit about fear as these two very separate passages happened to come up during my daily reading plan.
The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we can confidently say,
“The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear;
what can man do to me?”
God inspired the writers of Scripture to say things that you and I need to hear. And in this pairing of verses, God speaks clearly to us about fear. Both passages clearly acknowledge that fear is a real thing. If it were not, it would be silly for God to speak of it to us. God knows that fear will be a danger for us. And God has a solution for us.
In both passages, what is the solution for fear? We see David ask, “Whom shall I fear?” We see the writer to the Hebrews remind us of the line, “I will not fear.” But how? How do we overcome fear, especially when we know fear is not a generally rational thing.
In both passages, we see the same answer to fear. It is a genuine trust in the Lord. “Whom shall I fear” is not a question asked alone. It applies when the psalmist declares that the Lord is his light, salvation, and the stronghold of his life. In Hebrews, it is the presence of God, our helper, who will never leave nor forsake us, that helps us overcome fear. In both places, fear is conquered, not by the “power of positive thinking,” not by ignoring reality, but totally by knowing, relying on, and resting in God.
Fear stinks because it eats us up inside. Fear stinks even more because it displays that, for that moment, we are not believing in the Lord we say is our God. Fear stinks because it dishonors our Lord and makes us live like those with no hope.
How then shall we conquer that fear? We must remember. We need to remember the reality of our God. We need to remember that our God is with us. We need to remember that our God is faithful. We need to remember that he has staked his reputation on the fact that he will not leave us or forsake us. We remember our God, we remember eternity, we remember the strength of the Lord, and we learn to rest. No, this is not easy. You will need to work at it. You will need to pray through it. You will need Christian friends to remind you of the truths of God’s word when your mind is refusing to go there. But believers battle fear with faith in the Lord who saves us.