I grew up hearing the phrase, “If I told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times.”
The idea behind this phrase is that if my father had told me something “a thousand times,” I had better take to heart how important it is! By the same logic, when we find a command in the Bible repeated around 100 times, we had better take to heart how important that command is to God!
The command God gives to us around 100 times in the Bible is this, “Fear not” or “Do not be afraid.” Why does God repeat this command so often? Because God knows us, and He knows how often and how deeply we struggle with fear.
The human struggle with fear comes up early in the Bible. Following Adam’s and Eve’s original sin, God walks in the garden calling to Adam and Eve, but they hide from God. Adam explains (in Genesis 3:10), “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” Ever since then, out of our broken human nature, we have struggled with fear.
What is your experience with fear? How has fear affected you?
Queen Latifah points out, “Fear can be good when you’re walking past an alley at night or when you need to check the locks on your doors before you go to bed, but it’s not good when you have a goal and you’re fearful of obstacles. We often get trapped by our fears.”
Queen Latifah is correct. Fear is often an obstacle in our lives, blocking us from becoming what we would hope to become, diverting us away from doing what we would love to accomplish. Fear is often a trap, imprisoning us and keeping us from getting where we would like to get in life.
Angela Liddon shares, “When I think about my struggles with anxiety, I realize that I live in the future too much. It’s crazy how much I worry about things that haven’t happened yet and probably never will happen. I’ve spent my entire life battling the anxiety monster and I’ve missed out on so many great opportunities due to debilitating fear.”
How many of us, like Angela, have missed out on opportunities in life while running away from the “anxiety monster?”
When we are driven by fear, we shrink, we retreat, we hide, we lash out, we blame, we cling, we lose sleep or we sleep too much. We diminish our opportunities.
1st John 4:18a offers an antidote to fear, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.” I find the principle taught in this verse to be incredibly accurate in my life. When I am moved by love, I find that courage and hope and faith overpower my fears. But when love is lacking in my heart, fear overpowers me.
For this reason, when I find that fear is blocking my heart or tripping me up or imprisoning me or debilitating me, I try to ask, “Where is love missing in this situation?”
If you struggle at times with fear like I do, I encourage you to try this antidote, “Perfect love drives out fear.”
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