Perhaps you’ve heard it said that the phrase “fear not” or something similar occurs 365 times in the Bible, one for every day of the year. Clearly, with so many mentions, it is an important topic to God. And yet, it seems we can’t get past our fear and anxiousness. In our culture of constant information, the bombardment of distressing news presented around the clock feeds our fear. Maybe we think that if Jesus were just present right here on earth with us, we’d be less worrisome and nothing would phase us. However,
the gospels are full of situations where even Jesus’ closest friends were consumed with fear and burdened with worry.
One of the most well-known stories of the disciples’ fear is that of the storm on the sea of Galilee. Even though these men were experienced fishermen, certainly capable of handling a boat in bad weather, this storm must have been severe enough to threaten their lives. All the while, Jesus was lying there, asleep.
And they went to Him, saying, ‘Save us, Lord; we are perishing’. — Matthew 8:25
After asking them why they were afraid, He rose and rebuked the winds and waves, and “there was a great calm” (v. 26). He could have simply told them not to worry; He was there. His presence would be enough. But this storm was greater than the usual ones they had faced. And they were afraid.
Perhaps you’ve been in a situation that seems more threatening than others. Maybe you’ve had scary diagnoses before, but this one is worse, and you’re scared. You’ve had fights before, but this one seems irredeemable, and now you’re afraid for the relationship. Your child has been in trouble before, but this time it’s on another level, and your mind can’t think of anything except what if?
- Even though we know Jesus is always with us, it’s often difficult to remember that He can handle even the situations far beyond what we’ve experienced before.
We also tend to worry and fear when God’s timing is not our timing. We call on Him and ask for help, and He seems silent or absent. Jesus’ dear friends Mary and Martha experienced this when they sent word to Jesus that Lazarus, their brother, was ill. John recorded that
when [Jesus] heard that Lazarus was ill, He stayed two days longer in the place where He was. — John 11:6
That seems like an odd thing to do when someone you love is seriously ill. However, Jesus told His disciples that it was for “the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it” (v. 4). Jesus knew exactly what He was doing — there was a greater purpose for His waiting. Still, it’s hard to understand God’s timing. Although Mary and Martha had faith that Jesus could heal their brother, they became fearful when the situation seemed beyond hope, when it was too late.
Are you feeling fearful today? Do you worry that this recent situation is too big or that it’s too late for Jesus to redeem it? Take a minute to consider that by the time the disciples experienced the storm on the sea, they had been with Jesus for a while, witnessing His miracles. Matthew recorded that they had seen Him cleanse a leper, heal the servant of a centurion without even being physically present, and “cast out the [demonic] spirits with a word and [heal] all who were sick” (Matthew 8:16). All this by the time they encountered the storm. If anyone should have been unafraid, it’s them. Mary and Martha were close enough to Jesus that they would have certainly seen and heard of His many miracles — healing the lame man, walking on water, feeding the multitudes. However, in the middle of their fearful situation, they, like the disciples, forgot His previous wonders. They allowed fear and worry to overwhelm them and distract them from the truth of who Jesus was.
So how do we counter that fear when the waves are crashing against us and death surrounds us? Psalm 77 gives us an answer. After starting with a cry aloud to God, the psalmist declared,
I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember Your wonders of old. I will ponder all Your work and meditate on Your mighty deeds. — vv. 11–12
The Israelites also knew the importance of remembering. When they crossed the Jordan River on dry ground, Joshua commanded them to collect twelve stones for the number of tribes of Israel, so that it would be a sign to them. When their children asked what the stones meant, they would tell them of God’s faithfulness. They would remember, just as we remember. We remember the healing God has done in the past. We call to mind His faithfulness in previous situations. Will He always answer our prayers exactly how and when we want? No, but we can trust that He is with us and will bring about our good and His glory.
Excerpted with permission from It Is Finished by Charles Martin, copyright Charles Martin.
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What do you tend to do with your fear? What has God done for you in your own life that you can actively remember to calm your fear? What altars have you built to His faithfulness? Come share with us. We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily