“Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.” It seems like there are so many things to be afraid of, especially in this economy. Bills are the first that spring to mind (student loans, mortgages, car payments, groceries) given the unemployment numbers. But there are things that touch us all: fear of sin, fear of ending up alone, fear of losing the people we love, fear of failing God. The list could go on and on.
“Do not be afraid” is a common theme throughout the Bible, perhaps because God knows just how vulnerable we are to fear. Angels say “do not be afraid” to Zechariah before Elizabeth becomes pregnant, to Mary at the Annunciation and Joseph shortly after. Jesus tells it to His apostles, and later to Paul in two separate visions. I find it comforting all these holy people needed such assurance, because I often find myself in need of it as well.
But at the same time fear is a very effective tool for God. Little else can drive us into God’s arms faster than fear. Little else can so effectively teach us to rely more on God and less on ourselves. Fear tests our faith in ways nothing else can.
So maybe we have a love-hate relationship with fear. But, after all, how could we learn to “be not afraid” without it?