Fear is a many-tentacled monster that slithers its way into almost everything – very often, without being detected. Most of us are good at recognizing common, more obvious fears, such as phobias and life- or health-threatening situations. But we might fail to see that our angst behind which party wins the election, or managing family/work/school in the midst of a pandemic, or how to relate to someone of a different race, is also fear-based. Fear has to do with punishment (1 John 4:18). So feeling out of control, misunderstood, or at the mercy of some unforeseen threat usually launches reaction.
For the Christ-follower, fear is very effective in getting us back on our heels in a defense posture, rather than resolutely holding to truth. In fact, truth becomes illusive, as fear counteracts faith, and the voices of others drown out the still small voice of God. Our faith in our Sovereign God is replaced by faith in our abilities to navigate and make decisions – a weak attempt at regaining our eroding control in our desperate need of security. Ultimately, it fails.
So, how does trust in an unseen God overrule the volume of daily overt fears, as well as the camouflaged traps of hidden fears? The starting place is acknowledging the timeless Truth of God’s character in always looking after the needs of His people, down to the smallest detail. King David wrote from his experience, “Trust in the Lord and do good: dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord.” (Psalm 37:3-5a) David dealt with the unknown on a daily basis when he was running for his life, and he learned with certainty: “The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; He is their stronghold in time of trouble.” (v.39) David’s son, Solomon, penned profound truth during his reign. “There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord.” (Proverbs 21:30) Whatever we are facing right now, the Lord knows and sees. He cares, and He has a plan.
It boils down to whether or not we choose to believe God is Who He says He is; then, whether or not we allow Him to be in charge. We can’t claim we trust Him without practicing the latter. Further, if our lives are not characterized by peace (little to no anxiety or stress), what is it we secretly believe God can’t or won’t handle? “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26) While our fears might be a little different than those experienced by early Christians, Paul would suggest they can be reined in by taking the same long view. He addresses one of the biggest fears of man – death – and the fact that Jesus did battle with the ultimate enemy, defeating him through His resurrection. “But thanks be to God! He gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:57)
Paul declares in verse 58 this overwhelming Truth as the platform for our lives and work, regardless of our circumstances. “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you.” (No fear for health or provision. No fear of election outcomes. No fear of accusations from people who think differently.) “Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” Let the perfect love of God that overcomes all fear (1 John 4:18), keep you focused on what God has created you to do. Could God’s fearless Love expressed through you, His people, be both His exposure of, and His answer to, the enemy’s covert strategy to divide and destroy?