Over and over in the Bible, God’s people are told not to fear. But there are a lot of things in this world that could understandably frighten us. Is our fearlessness supposed to come from burying our heads in the sand, unafraid because we’re ignorant about things which could make us fearful? Or are we supposed to be fearless in spite of knowing about all the things which could scare us?
Acknowledge We Live in Perilous Times
The Bible never advises us to live in ignorance. We’re not to be caught up in the ways of this world, but we are supposed to be aware of what’s going on. Jesus warned His disciples to “stay alert” and “watch” as the end times neared. Mostly, that watchfulness involves keeping ourselves ready, but it also involves keeping an eye on the world around us (Matt. 24:4, 32-52; 25:13).
But understand this, that in the last days difficult times will come.2 Timothy 3:1, NET
The word translated “difficult” here also means “hard to take,” “troublesome, dangerous, harsh, fierce, savage,” and perilous (Thayers’s Dictionary, G5467). Paul doesn’t want Timothy, or us today, to be ignorante or caught off-guard as the world becomes more and more dangerous.
For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, not lovers of good, traitors, headstrong, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding a form of godliness, but having denied its power. Turn away from these, also.2 Timothy 3:2-5, NET
We are not the first of God’s people to live in times like this. Abel’s brother murdered him. Noah lived among people so wicked God wiped them out. Abraham was so scared other men would kill him and steal his wife that he told them she was his sister. Joseph was enslaved. David fled for his life several times before and after he became king. Elijah got so discouraged by the perilous time he lived in that he wanted to die. Yet God got them through all that (Heb. 11:1-40).
The reason God’s people are fearless isn’t because they don’t realize the world is a scary place. It’s because our God can handle all the scary things for us, and carry us through them if He chooses not to make them go away. And He’s happy to prove that to us. Elijah, for example, was so afraid he’d be killed that he fled to a wilderness to hide. God didn’t chew him out for his lack of faith; He answered his questions and helped him keep going forward. Turning to God for help and remembering how He came through for us in the past is an antidote to fear (Deut. 7:18-19; 20:3-4; 31:6).
When I am afraid,Psalm 56:3-4, NET
I trust in you.
In God—I boast in his promise—
in God I trust; I am not afraid.
What can mere men do to me?
Note that David says, “when I am afraid.” Even King David, the man after God’s own heart, had times when he was afraid. We don’t need to start out completely fearless. But when we commit to trusting God in spite of our fear, we can end up as confident as David and the other psalmists.
God is our refuge and strength,Psalm 46:1-3, WEB
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we won’t be afraid, though the earth changes,
though the mountains are shaken into the heart of the seas;
though its waters roar and are troubled,
though the mountains tremble with their swelling. Selah.
Share Your Hope
We’re to acknowledge we live in perilous times, then put our trust in God and live fearlessly with Him on our side. As part of that fearless life, we must follow Jesus’s example. Sometimes that will mean people don’t like us very much. It may even mean persecution. That’s not supposed to scare us, though, or stop us from talking about the gospel.
For who is going to harm you if you are devoted to what is good? But in fact, if you happen to suffer for doing what is right you are blessed. But do not be terrified of them or be shaken. But set Christ apart as Lord in your hearts and always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess. Yet do it with courtesy and respect, keeping a good conscience, so that those who slander your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame when they accuse you.1 Peter 3:13-16, NET
The world might not know it, but it desperately needs the hope found in the same truths that give us courage. Jesus didn’t let anything stop Him from sharing hope–even hanging on a cross (Luke 23:42-43)–and we shouldn’t either. I know that’s easier said than done, though.
In today’s world, it often seems like sharing your hope is more likely to make people hate you than to give you a chance to show them the love of Jesus. While there are some situations where it’s clear what we should do (e.g. if someone asks you about what you believe, you ought to tell them the truth), but many situations are more ambiguous. We’re to be wise as well as fearless and bold. Be aware of the situations you’re in, but at the same time don’t act out of fear. Remember how great your God is and live confidently in a way that honors Him.
Featured image by Simon Berger from Pixabay
Song Recommendation: “I Am Not Alone” by Kari Jobe