Three Hundred Times: ‘Do Not Be Afraid’
SHELLY DUFFER — Three hundred times.
Over three hundred times, actually.
Over three hundred times, God’s people are told in Scripture, “Do not be afraid.”
That is not nothing.
Fear is an old foe of mine. A familiar enemy. And, with one phone call this morning, it reared its ugly head yet once again.
I despise what fear does, to my soul. And to my mind. Despise it.
In life overall, there is not much I am afraid of. I have no real phobias that I can name. I don’t like spiders, but I’m not afraid of them. I’m not afraid of heights, I’m not fearful of new or unfamiliar places, I’m not afraid of flying, I’m not afraid of speaking in front of crowds, I’m not afraid of germs. I never lock my doors (I wouldn’t recommend that, actually, now that I think about it), I would have no real fear of traveling to a dangerous part of the world, I am not fearful of losing my life or of being injured.
However, there are a small, small handful of things that terrorize me. Maybe terrorize is too strong of a word. But when I’m in the midst of being swallowed by those fears, that word doesn’t seem too strong. I am all too familiar with middle-of-the-night panics. I am all too familiar with parenting fears. I am all too familiar with the experience of jarring phone calls.
Such was the call I received this morning, as I wrapped up practicing the morning’s worship set at church, before Sunday School.
Fear is an interesting experience, in that it sharpens our senses when we are in the midst of it. Or, at least, it can. It can heighten our awareness, as we are “on edge.” Sometimes things become disorienting — yes, I have known that to be truth. But I have also know fear to cause an increased hyper-awareness of the atmosphere and surroundings. Shadows on the wall.
Noises. The hum of an air conditioner. The musty smell of old books. The ticking of a clock. Time slows to a crawl. Where is God, in those moments?
Three hundred times: God commands us to not fear. He urges us to not fear. He assures us and tells us to not be afraid.
If it were not so important to God, He would not have addressed it so much in Scripture.
If He were not aware that fear would be a constant pull in our lives — if He were not such a knowing God — He would not have addressed it so much, in scripture.
If He was not our only hope in the attack of fear — for it is just that, an attack — in our souls and minds, He would not have addressed it so much, in Scripture.
Fear not, for I am with you,
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil;
for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff,
they comfort me.
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God.
More than three hundred times…
Originally published at All Is Well. Used by permission.