Who enjoys being afraid? Yes, there are those who ‘enjoy’ the temporary terror produced by a horror flick. (Not me!) Then, too, there are thrill seekers who like to push the envelope in life feeling the surge of emotion that is triggered by a moment’s fear. (Think sky-diving!) But, on the whole, feelings of insecurity and threats are not pleasant. Our experience in this world can create fertile ground in which fear can readily grow. Storms comes. Illness visits. War rages. Economies fail. Evil is a reality. In the middle of all those things God invites us to leave fear behind for a life of faith.
Some Christians mistakenly believe that they can pray away all the things that trouble them. They invest huge amounts of energy in trying to eliminate all their problems; rebuking this, cursing that, calling on God to make their lives unending bliss. There is nothing wrong with asking our Father for healing, victory, or prosperity. Even as we pray for blessings, our core hope must always center on His Presence. Since we live in a broken, sinful world where the rain falls on both the just and the unjust, we cannot realistically expect unending days without pain or troubles. We can live near to the heart of God!
“The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Psalm 118:6, NIV) “God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6, NLT)
Living near to God’s heart requires choices to love Him more than we love ourselves. Jesus said, “If you love me, do what I say!” There is a sweet intimacy with the Spirit that is possible, but not if our willfulness or love of this present world grieves Him and pushes Him away. Read John’s instructions for a live of confidence thoughtfully. “We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.” (1 John 4:16-18, NLT) We live in God, that is, as He desires and allowing Him to direct us. When we do, He grows greater love in us and that love displaces the fearfulness of the things of this world!
The time to build this kind of intimacy with God is before the storm, not during it! Christians who have lived carelessly, without any real ongoing desire for God’s Presence, encounter some life-shattering circumstance and come running to church, crying, wondering why they are so afraid. Desperately they seek a place of comfort. My heart breaks when I see their frantic reach for the peace that they know exists but that seems beyond their grasp. Then, there are those who have steadily walked with God, loving Him with their heart, soul, mind, and strength, who enter the same kind of storm and ride it out with assurance. Sure, they feel the same pain and they cry, too. But, they know peace.
Here’s the word from the Word. It is Jesus’ promise for us. I will not be afraid, what about you? “If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” (John 14:15-17, NIV) “All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:25-27, NIV)
Peace, peace, wonderful peace,
Coming down from the Father above.
Sweep over my spirit forever, I pray,
In fathomless billows of love.
W. George Cooper | Warren D. Cornell
© Words: Public Domain