Fear is a very real and understandable emotion, especially in today’s world of identity theft and internet intimidation and viruses. Unfortunately, it can begin at a young age through child abuse whether physical, emotional or verbal. In addition, one can develop irrational fear of objects, activities and situations called phobias. If danger is imminent, the most common reactions are fight or flight. In less dangerous situations panic and paralysis are also common. Logical fear and the adrenaline that accompanies it are the protective mechanisms that allow us to escape injury or even death during fires, tornadoes, floods, etc.

Many of the well-known people in the Bible were afraid, starting with Adam and his fear of God because of his nakedness (Gen 3:10). Moses was afraid when Pharaoh tried to kill him because he had killed an Egyptian (Ex 2:14-15). David was afraid to bring back the Ark of God after seeing a man killed for touching it (1 Chr 13:12). The remnant of Israel was afraid of the Assyrians (Is 10:24). Esther was afraid to appear before King Xerxes without permission (Est 4:16) as was Nehemiah in the presence of King Artaxerxes because he needed his favor (Ne 2:2). Paul was afraid of dying in the storm at sea (Acts 27:24).

To those who fear, God gives repeated assurances that we need not be afraid because, “…I am the God of your father Abraham (said to Isaac) do not be afraid for I am with you…” (Gen 26:24) To many others he gave the same hope (Dt 1:29) (Is 44:8) (Jer 1:8) (Mt 5:36) (Jo 14:27).

The reaction of the Christian in the midst of fear should be the same as that of Ester who fasted (Est 4:16) and Nehemiah who prayed instead of fleeing, fighting, being panic stricken or paralyzed. “Do not be afraid, just believe.” (Mk 5:36) “In God I trust, I will not be afraid.” (Ps 56:3-4) These are absolute truths but hard to remember when faced with the reality of danger or death. Plan B is the statement of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego when facing death in the blazing furnace, “…the God we serve is able to save us… But even if he does not, we want you to know O King, that we will not serve your gods…” (Dan 3:16-18)

—Jim Bailey