What does it mean to ‘fear not’?
These two words appear repeatedly in the scripture. Joseph heard them from the angel when he spoke, reassuring Joseph’s commitment to Mary. Shepherds heard them when the angel appeared to tell them of Jesus’ birth. Women heard them at the tomb of the risen Savior. God spoke them to Abram, to Joshua, to Hagar, to Moses, to the Israelites, to Zacharias, to Mary, to Peter, to Paul, and to John.
He has spoken them to me.
It has been said that “fear not” is in the Bible 365 times, once for each day of the year. While the exact phrase is not there that many times, scripture is filled with the promises and assurances of God as He reaches out to humans.
I can flip through my Bible and find verse after verse underlined that speak to my heart of releasing fear,
but what does it mean to ‘fear not’? That question has been circulating in my mind for a while now.
I know what it means to fear. Fear was the ruling emotion in my heart for years.
I know that ‘fear not’ is an imperative – a command.
As I think about moving from fear to faith, I believe that several things are involved. While I may not consciously consider each one when faced with a fearful challenge, they are a part of the faith journey.
- Fear not means that I choose to listen to and obey the voice of God as presented in His word, the Bible.
- Fear not means that I give up my perception of control (and it is truly only a perception) and trust the work and the love of God.
- Fear not means that I trust God’s word and His promises more than I trust my understanding of happenings.
- Fear not means that I focus on God rather than on the circumstances.
- Fear not means that I trust the goodness of God – no matter what I see or face.
- Fear not means that I trust the omnipotence of God, knowing that He is all powerful and the ultimate victor in the craziness that surrounds.
- Fear not means that I refuse to ground my emotions in the temporary sand of this world, choosing instead to rest them on the firm foundation of the character of God.
- Fear not means that I trust God’s plan for me, for my family, for my friends, and for the world.
- Fear not means that I give up my pseudo sophistication and walk calmly with my Father, knowing that He is good, He is gracious, He is all-powerful, and I am His responsibility.
Fear not is an active command for it allows me to move with confidence into wherever God opens opportunities for service.
‘Fear not’ can be a difficult command to obey. My natural mind is constantly looking at all the circumstances and ramifications. It tends to focus on the negative and accentuate the problems, and I am easily caught in the what ifs and what could be.
However, I have experienced the joy of walking in faith, of releasing my grip on the circumstances to trust the hand of God –
and I have no desire to return to the land of fear.
So, I choose to trust, to finish this journey in faith, serving the God Who can keep me and Who will carry me home.
Isaiah 35:4 Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you.
Joshua 1:9 Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest. (I can’t ask for more than this!)
Psalm 27:14 Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.
As I was writing, I was reminded of the old, old gospel song “Is Not This the Land of Beulah?” I have placed the lyrics below. Check out these beautiful words from the early 1800s.
1 I am dwelling on a mountain,
Where the golden sunlight gleams
O’er a land whose wondrous beauty
Far exceeds my fondest dreams;
Where the air is pure, ethereal,
Laden with the breath of flowers,
That are blooming by the fountain,
’Neath the amaranthine bowers.
2 I can see far down the mountain,
Where I wandered weary years,
Often hindered in my journey,
By the ghosts of doubt and fears;
Broken vows and disappointments
Thickly scattered all the way;
But the spirit led unerring
to the land I hold today.
3 I am drinking at the fountain,
Where I ever would abide,
For I’ve tasted life’s pure river,
And my soul is satisfied;
There’s no thirst for earthly pleasures,
Nor adorning rich and gay,
For I’ve found a richer treasure,
One that fadeth not away.
4 Tell me not of heavy crosses,
Nor the burdens hard to bear,
For I’ve found this great salvation
Makes each burden light appear;
And I love to follow Jesus,
Gladly counting all but dross,
Worldly honors all forsaking
For the glory of the cross.
5 Oh! the cross has wondrous glory!
Oft I’ve proved this to be true,
When I’m in the way so narrow,
I can see a pathway through;
And how sweetly Jesus whispers,
“Take the cross, thou need’st not fear,
For I’ve trod the way before thee,
And the glory lingers near.”
Is not this the land of Beulah?
Blessed, blessed land of light;
Where the flowers bloom forever,
And the sun is always bright?
(attributed to William Hunter)
Photo – Anchored, Beth Mims
Amen, amen, amen to all your “Fear not” imperatives! Good reminders.
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