The Weekly Word: The fear that conquers fear
By Tim Purcell, Superintendent of the Iowa/Minnesota District of the Wesleyan Church
Fear is something that we all have to face on a regular basis, but with the COVID-19 pandemic that has us in its grip, it seems that we have more to fear than ever.
We fear for life itself. Worse yet, we fear for the lives of those we love.
We fear loss of employment. We fear that we won’t be able to pay our bills.
Here’s the interesting thing about fear: it can take on many different faces. It can manifest itself as stress, worry, depression or even anger.
The point is that fear isn’t just that gut-wrenching, knee-knocking emotion you get when you have a near-miss on the highway. It comes in all shapes and sizes and we all face it.
But here’s the problem. The Bible tells us not to fear. In fact, the command not to fear appears 63 times in Scripture. It is, in fact, the most repeated command in the Bible.
But there is one area where fear is not only allowed, it is commanded – the fear of God. In fact, Scripture speaks of fearing God no less than 77 times.
Here’s one of those passages:
And now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. …
— Deuteronomy 10:12 (NIV)
Catch this spiritual principle. The fear of God is the fear that conquers all other fears. If I fear GOD, I don’t need to fear ANYTHING else.
Oswald Chambers said it like this: “The remarkable thing about fearing God is that when you fear God you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God you fear everything else.”
So, what does it mean to fear God? Does he want to me go through life quaking in fear every time I think of Him?
No. When we fear God it means that we acknowledge him for who he is and we surrender to his power in our lives. It’s not terror and it’s not having your knees knock. In fact, it’s not really an emotion at all. It’s simply acknowledging God for who he is and surrendering my life to him.
When I was a child, there was no one who could make me feel safer than my dad. Ironically, there was also no one who could make me more afraid than my dad, depending on whether I was trusting him or disobeying him.
When I was 10 years old, I got my first paper route. I was really too young – you were supposed to be 12 – but I bugged the guy at the paper office until he caved in and gave me the route just so I would leave him alone.
The first day on my own was awful. My mind went blank and I couldn’t remember which houses got papers and which ones didn’t. Finally, in humiliation I headed home, crying so hard that I ran my bike into a parked car!
I ran straight to Dad and told him, “I can’t do it.” He assured me that everything would be OK and we hopped into our VW Bug and did the route together. And we did it together again the next night. And then I was able to do the route on my own.
I could tell you of other times, when I was disobedient, that Dad was the last person in the world I wanted to see because I knew that disobedience would bring consequences.
Our heavenly father is like that. You can live in security or in fear, depending on whether to run FROM him or run TO him.
When you fear him you don’t need to fear anything else, not even a pandemic. Be strong and courageous, my friends. And cling to the fear that conquers fear.