Fear. It's the only word we have to explain what is going on around us right now. The stock market is falling apart, not because of any real crisis but because of a perceived fear. People are losing their life savings, their pensions, their future as investors panic over mere shadows of perceived possibilities. This panic provoked by fear is about to affect businesses who will have to lay people off. It is like a self-fulfilling prophecy. Everyone is in debt and very few have money saved for a rainy day. The future is looking very dark and students are beginning to wonder if there will be any jobs for them when they finish with their education.
London is burning. It's crazy. Have we ever seen such a thing in a Western Society? There is no reason for it except that it is happening in the poorest sections of the city where there isn't much hope for anything better. But is this how a civilized society acts? The city is gripped with fear, because of a small group of people that the police can't handle. Fear is our usual reaction in the face of things that don't make sense, that we can't explain. What a crazy, fearful place this world is becoming.
We don't have to go so far afield or to look at such large events to find fear. It is something that is familiar to all of us, whether is was something we experienced as a child, fearing the monster in the closet, or as a young adult starting our first job. There are many things that provoke fear but fear should never stay with us. It should be more like a fleeting summer breeze that we only feel for the briefest of moments as it passes by. Fear is like all other negative emotions in our life, similar to hatred and jealousy that rise up, sometimes unexpectedly, but they should never find a home in us. It is like the proverb that speaks of the bird flying over our head, we should never allow it to make a nest in our hair. There should be something greater in us that does not allow those things to find a permanent residence in us, that refuses to allow them to take root.
Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)
Where is our confidence? In the systems of man or in the love of Jesus? What is the most important thing to us right now? Our finances or our relationship with Jesus? Where have we put our trust? The psalmist wrote that he could face any evil because of one reason, God was with him. Remember that we have not been given a spirit of timidity:
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7)
Our Father is not producing wimps, people afraid of their own shadows, but instead a race of mighty warriors ready to take on great spiritual battles. We have no right to be afraid of a mouse. Know God's heart:
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)
What was the source of Joshua's great confidence and obedience? First, he was commanded to do these things by God, second, God was with him. Let's repeat that to ourselves right now; Jesus is with me! Again; Jesus is with me! He loves me! He wants the best for me! He will use everything, good and bad, for my benefit! He is the King of kings and Lord of Lords and he is in me and I am in him. Nothing can separate me from him. Nothing! Fear is the enemies attempt to separate us but we will not have it. Jesus said:
Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. (John 14:1)
This is the same one who spoke to the storm to be still and it obeyed. When Jesus tells us that the Father knows what we need and will provide then we can put our confidence in that fact. Fear may present itself but the love of Jesus in us should insure that it will never take up residence in us.
These are not mere words. The world is starting to unravel and it is going to get bad. There are some real rough times ahead where it will be like walking through the valley of the shadow of death, but shadows never hurt anyone, they only provoke fear. Yet, we will walk through these valleys with confidence and joy because Jesus is with us. That means something because for us he is the source of everything we need. Fear cannot rob us of our joy and peace. It cannot touch our peace because this peace is a gift from the Lord and he promised he will never take it from us.
It really comes down to one question; Do we trust Jesus? Where have we put our confidence, in the systems of man or in the love of the Lord?