What makes us feel afraid? Why is it that when disease threatens, or money begins to run out, or even when life simply changes that so many of us feel an almost uncontrollable reaction of fear? The fear springs back against our circumstances like a trampoline stretching and throwing the jumper back up into the air. There’s no way to stop it once it springs.
This guttural fear response comes from a place deep inside of us, where we believe we are going to be left alone in our suffering. We believe we will be unable to endure the pain, isolation, or loss that could happen if what we fear comes true. This false belief entered deep into the human heart when Adam and Eve chose to disobey God, and it still lingers in every human soul. We know we deserve punishment, so we hide. We know we deserve to be cast out of God’s presence, so we cover ourselves from God. Rather than running to the source of love, forgiveness, and security, we pull back in fear.
It is God’s promise to be with his children, with all those in Christ, that is the reason we should not fear. We do not have to fear because we are not alone, we will never be forsaken, and we will never experience the judgement we deserve. Christ experienced all of that for us: he took our sin, he took our abandonment, and he took our punishment. In place of all of this, he gives us his righteousness, he gives us his never-ending presence, and he gives us his reward.
Have you ever considered that you do not have to fear because God is with you? Fear has to do with punishment, with being cast out of God’s presence. But when we are confident in God’s presence with us, there is truly nothing to fear. In life and in death, we are secure in the presence of God. David wrote in Psalm 23:4, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.” In the face of death, we do not have to fear, because God is with us. In the face of the Coronavirus, we do not have to fear, because God is with us.
Paul reminded the Romans, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?…No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35,37-39).
The antidote for fear, then, is not security. The antidote for fear is God’s presence. God gave the promise of his presence, to “be with you,” to Jacob (Genesis 28:15), to Moses (Exodus 3:12), to Joshua (Joshua 1:9), to David (2 Samuel 7:3), and this same promise is for you (Matthew 28:20). We can live without fear even in the most trying circumstances when we are confident that all of God’s promises are “yes” in Jesus Christ for us. One of these promises is to be forever in the presence of our God, who is good, faithful, loving, merciful, and just. Our Father, who gave his only Son for our salvation, has poured out his Spirit on us, which is a seal of this promise of eternal life in the presence of God.
Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27). This was a blessing for us as a part of the out-poured Holy Spirit. Jesus gave us this peace, which means we can live in the reality of this peace now. Not only can we live in this reality, we should live in this reality. As Christians, we should be the most peace-filled people on this planet because we know our future is secure: God is with us, in us, and for us. Truly, the peace of God surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7).
So, let the first reaction of your heart not be fear but rather praise, trust, and reliance on the presence of God in your life to work all things for your good. When you feel fear, remember that you will never be separated from God’s love. The thing you fear, whether it is sickness, poverty, isolation, hunger, or death will not overcome you because Christ has already overcome the world and the evil one. His grace will be sufficient for you because Christ’s sacrifice was sufficient for you. His grace will be sufficient for you because the risen Christ has defeated death and sin and has given you his life-giving Spirit. His grace will be sufficient for you because his power will be perfected in your weakness.
I want to end this short encouragement by blessing you. This blessing was spoken by God to Moses. It was then to be communicated by the priests of Israel to bless God’s people and to put his name on them. These are no empty words, but they are the very words of God, which are living and active. When God speaks, his words accomplish what they say. So I write this for all of you in Christ, knowing that what is written will come to pass in your life because these are the words of God for you, his people:
“The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26).
Go in the grace and peace of God.