"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." John 14:27
Tragedy is a reality in this world. We lose things; houses, cars, savings. We lose people we love, sometimes very suddenly. We get that phone call, that knock on the door, that diagnosis, the one that shoots cold pain into the centers of our stomachs. We remember those gut-twisting moments for the rest of our lives. The worst thing about them is not just the loss we've experienced, but the perpetual fear of future losses. Anticipation of "the worst" can taint every day of our lives for years. Yet, God tells us to not fear, but to trust wholly in Him. How does that work when the fear is there and very real? How can it work?
Fear is natural, and it is a normal response to uncertainty and danger. Yet, fear is not a virtue like caution or prudence. Fear simply robs our lives of joy.. The question is therefore, how do we face joblessness or drive on bad tires we can't afford to replace? How do we remember the loss of a child and not cling desperately to the children we have left? How do we live in peace and victory?
Certainly trusting God and putting Him first is the answer. But, while it is easy to say we need to trust God, it is often much harder to do. Simon Peter knew Jesus personally and had watched him perform many miracles, and yet as he walked out to Jesus on the water, he was still frightened by the wind and waves, and he began to sink. We understand Peter; we're just like him.
So, how can we stop being afraid of the wind and waves when they are loud and crashing into our faces?
We learn about God.
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." -2 Timothy 3:16
"Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you." -John 16:13-14
It's difficult to trust a stranger. If we want to conquer fear, we need to start by truly getting to know who God is by prayerfully reading through His Word. We also need to ask God for the guidance of His Spirit. God is glad to give us His Spirit to help us (Luke 11:11-13).
We believe God loves us.
"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment." -1 John 4:18
When God says He loves us, we believe Him. It's not humble to say, "Oh, I'm not important to God." God knows the number of hairs on our heads (Matthew 10:29-31). We are extremely valuable to Him. No matter what we feel (feelings come and go with hormones and food), we need to just start taking God at His word. He said He loves us, we should believe Him.
[He does love us. He lavishes us with value. He loves us so much that He allowed His precious Son to be mocked and beaten and slaughtered in order to buy us back from death. It wasn't a whim. It was the amazing, deep, true love of a mighty God. We need to choose to believe that.]
We also need to remember that He doesn't love us because of how good we are. He loves us because of how good He is. That means that when we've had a really rotten day and we've messed up, we don't have to run and hide from Him. We can run to Him and seek His healing and cleansing right away.
We love God back.
"We love him, because he first loved us." - 1 John 4:19
How do we love God? We obey Him (John 14:15). And when we fail, we quickly confess and repent from sin. We listen to Him. We trust Him. We worship Him. He gave His Son for us, which alone is worth all the rejoicing in the world.
Praise and worship bring amazing results. We can say, "I believe you love me," but turning that into, "Thank you for loving me," makes all the difference. We can praise God for His protection, thank Him for His love, delight ourselves in Him. It is safe in His arms. It is safe living in the center of His will, no matter where His will leads us. And as we praise Him and worship Him and enjoy Him, the fear cannot remain.
We remember that our lives are not our own.
" What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." 1Corinthians 6:19-20
One song's lyrics say: "Thank you, Jesus, for the life you've given me. Thank you, Jesus, for the things I cannot see. I will worship you, the great and might Prince of Peace. I will honor you, Lord of Love, King of Kings. Here's my life a sacrifice to you. Here's my life a sacrifice to you."
When our lives truly belong to Christ and we are wholly given over to His purposes, then we know that every thing – even tragedy – will be used for excellent, wonderful things. He can use it all. As Paul said:
"For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal." -2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Fear sometimes seems unbeatable. To us, our fears are very real, and the salt water up our sinuses can be painful each time we crash under the ocean waves. But, in God's power, in God's eyes, they are nothing. To God, the terrible monsters that rise up above us to destroy us are merely origami tigers. They look fierce, but in God's hands they are no real danger. God does not need a good economy to provide for us and pay our bills. If He sees fit to give us a broken down car to drive, then He is capable of holding that broken down car together for us. He can protect our children and our loved ones. He alone can heal our hearts, and He is never worried.
Copyright © Koinonia House Inc., Reprinted with permission.
Dr. Chuck Missler is the founder of Koinonia House ministries, or K-House as it is affectionately called. K-House is dedicated to the development and distribution of materials for encouraging and facilitating serious study of the Bible as the inerrant Word of God. K-House reaches tens of thousands through its monthly newsletter, radio shows, cassette tapes, and conferences. More than eight million study tapes have been distributed in the U.S. and in over 35 countries around the world.