What are you afraid of? Between the two of us, I’m sure we could fill a sheet of paper with reasons for fear.
I used to be afraid of a failing body and uncertain future as I felt Lyme disease take its toll on my immune system. As God has brought some healing to me and addressed my heart, that fear has been subdued to a degree — but new fears have replaced it.
With our daughter’s due date approaching, I fear labor and delivery. I fear complications. I fear something going terribly wrong. With financial responsibilities increasing, I fear being unable to make ends meet. I fear surprise expenses. I fear we won’t get to fully enjoy the home God’s provided for us, or freely give to those in need.
I still fear the chronic pain in my body. I fear it will never go away. I fear that the rest of my days will be strewn with even minor discomforts, a constant reminder of the disease that’s taken its toll.
But such fears are not from God.
I’m exhausted simply writing this list of fears, let alone experiencing them. I know the enemy of my soul uses fear as a tool to steal, kill, and destroy faith, when Jesus came to give me fullness of life, his perfect love promising to cast out my fears (1 John 4:18). So I’ve been thinking lately, What are some truths we can cling to when fear looms and threatens our faith?
Promise #1: God is always good.
The psalmist extols God’s goodness in Psalm 119:68: “You are good and do good.” What a simple yet profound statement. Because God’s character is good — no ounce of unrighteousness dwells in him — all God’s intentions, plans, and works are good. Everything God is and everything God does is wrapped up in goodness.
Yes, yes, God is good. We believe this. But this truth is hard for us to wrap our minds around when circumstances seem bad. When the grim news arrives, the tragedy strikes, and our worst fear becomes a reality — what then? Can we still declare, “You are good and only do good”?
Here’s how the promise of God’s goodness casts out fear: God is for you in Jesus Christ, not against you. The giving of his Son for the sake of your soul is the ultimate demonstration of his goodness toward you. Not only this, but what happened at the cross proves that what appears bad God intends for our good. Even death did not have the final word. Christ disarmed it “by canceling the record of debt that stood against us” (Colossians 2:14–15).
As much as we want to make sense of our situation because that makes us feel we’re in control, God’s ways and wisdom are higher than ours. Somehow his goodness undergirds everything that passes through his hands to us — even the thing we most fear.
To trust in God’s goodness toward us as we walk by faith, not by sight, is the great challenge of the Christian life, with all its trials and sufferings — but it’s also the great, blessed assurance Christ lived, died, and rose to purchase for us.
Be not afraid; God is always good.
Promise #2: God will let nothing go to waste.
This promise has comforted my heart and given me strength to trust God: he works everything for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28). In Christ, all things work together for our growth in holiness and the exaltation of his name — all things meaning both life’s joys and sorrows. In God’s infinite wisdom, nothing that touches us goes to waste.
As for sorrow and suffering, the outcomes we most fear, God reminds us that he redeems our most difficult circumstances: “This light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen” (2 Corinthians 4:17–18).
Affliction loosens our hold on this world and prepares us to enjoy glory all the more. It teaches us how to submit to God’s will, conforming our desires to his, and it causes us to yearn more fully for the day when every tear will be wiped away in the presence of Christ. This doesn’t mean affliction is easy, but that it’s ultimately worth it.
Be not afraid; God will let nothing go to waste.
Promise #3: God will provide everything you need.
When God gave Paul an incessant thorn, the apostle pleaded with him three times to remove it and wrestled with what he was doing through it. Then Jesus said to him,
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” . . . For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9–10)
Because he knows that Christ is somehow more glorified through his thorn than without it, Paul is able to say, “I am content.” Yes, Lord, do what you know is best; only give me what I need to trust you in the midst of it!
The Christian whose faith is upheld by Christ in suffering is a display, to the church and to the world, of his all-sufficient strength to the church and the world. Trusting in God’s promise to supply for our every breath is a testimony that he is indeed enough for us, through the most incessant thorns and unceasing storms of this life.
The truth that when we are weak, he is strong casts out the fear that we’ll be left to our own devices and resources, that we won’t make it through the darkest night of the soul. But Jesus passed through the valley of the shadow of death at Calvary so we would never walk alone. He knew the darkness of forsakenness so we would never be forsaken. And he held the victory over sin and death so our hope for eternal life would be in him.
Be not afraid; God will provide everything you need.
Let Not Your Hearts Be Troubled
So, go ahead. Make your list of fears — but don’t stop there. Hear Jesus say to you, “Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27).
Meditate on the promises of God that have the power to cast out your fear and uphold your faith, and praise him that these promises are for you through his Son.