Do you like feeling afraid? If you do, congratulations – you’ve established yourself clearly in the minority. We live in a fear-filled world, and should we somehow fail to remember that, we can count on the mass media to give us a strong reminder. In fact, one prominent national news anchor declared, when he didn’t know he was being recorded, that the media’s primary role is to “scare the public to death.” (Actually, he said it more strongly than that.)
If someone were to ask what makes us fearful, many of us wouldn’t hesitate to respond: The cursed pandemic, which has disrupted everyday life more than we could have imagined and seems determined never to go away.
But COVID-19 isn’t the only culprit in the fear factory.
Long before we had ever heard the words “coronavirus,” we had plenty of other reasons for feeling anxious about our health – cancer, heart disease, pneumonia, the common flu and diabetes, to name just a few. We can feel afraid not just for our own health, but also for our loved ones.
Then there are the ever-present financial fears: How can I get enough money for what I need? Do I have enough now? Will I have enough in the future? What if an unexpected calamity occurs – what then?
If those don’t suffice for keeping your emotions in fear mode, there’s always the future. As someone has keenly observed, “The future isn’t what it used to be.” With the craziness all around us in the world, we might worry about lies ahead for our children, or if you’re old enough, grandchildren. We might feel grave concern about the security of our jobs. Severe weather always seems looming around the corner. Then there’s another kind of fear – the unknowns of growing old and what issues that will bring.
So, if we enjoy feeling afraid, there’s no end to the fear-inducing options available. But if we don’t wish to remain in a constant state of high, fearful alert, the Bible offers numerous exhortations urging us to do the opposite. In Isaiah 41:10, God says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Another passage, one of my favorites, admonishes, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
However, there is one type of fear the Scriptures don’t discourage. In fact, they highly recommend it. It’s the fear of the Lord, although this isn’t the shaking in your boots, anxiously looking over your shoulder kind of fear. It’s a reverential awe for the all-powerful, all-knowing, ever-present God who created us and sustains us every day.
This form of fear enables us to maintain proper perspectives and set right priorities. Here’s a sampling of biblical prescriptions for having a proper, holy fear of God:
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10).
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7).
“The fear of the Lord lengthens one’s life, but the years of the wicked are cut short” (Proverbs 10:27).
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise” (Psalm 111:10).
“Blessed is the man who fears the Lord. His heart is steady; he will not be afraid” (Psalm 112:1,8).
“The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life” (Proverbs 14:27).
“The fear of the Lord will keep you from sinning” (Exodus 20:20).
When I read these passages and others like them, they don’t produce a sense of foreboding, that God is ready to pounce the moment I mess up. Rather, it’s a sense of confidence and security, a trust that as the title of the old TV series said, “Father Knows Best.” He’s more than able to carry us through the fearful trials of life. And if we strive to heed what He says, life will be far better than anything we could experience on our own without Him.
If we truly fear God, as the Scriptures teach us to do, we can avoid succumbing to every other kind of fear that the world throws at us.
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Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly published, ”Marketplace Ambassadors”; “Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace”; “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” A weekly business meditation he edits, “Monday Manna,” is translated into more than 20 languages and sent via email around the world by CBMC International. The address for his blog is www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.