• 48°

No shame in being afraid

From the writings of the Rev. Billy Graham

Dear Rev. Graham: I am a person of faith, but after what we as a nation (and even the whole world) have experienced, I have become a person of fear. The Bible says, “Fear not, for I am with thee.” But the Bible also says, “Fear the Lord.” If God’s Word says, “Fear not,” and yet it also says, “Fear,” which does it mean? — B.F.

Dear B.F.: Fear is a twofold word. It refers to an emotion marked by dread and anxious concern. But it also means awe and wonder and profound reverence. This latter is the fear that inspires trust and confidence. The Bible calls us to have the latter kind of fear. When we fear God, we don’t cringe before Him like a prisoner robbed of freedom by a ruthless dictator. Our fear causes us to treat God with respect and trust. It is a reverence that comes from seeing the majesty and holiness and power of a loving Heavenly Father.
There is no shame in being afraid. We’re all afraid from time to time. But there’s an interesting paradox here, in that if we truly fear [reverence] God, we really have nothing to be afraid of. God’s people need not fear the enemy or his schemes, evil people, or uncertain days, because we trust in God who is in complete control.
Here is what the Bible says: “What does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him” (Deuteronomy 10:12).
Fear can paralyze us and keep us from exercising faith in God. Anxiety and fear are like baby tigers; the more we feed them, the stronger they grow. The devil loves a fearful Christian, because fear can banish faith, but remember — faith can banish fear.
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(This column is based on the words and writings of the late Rev. Billy Graham.)