Fear or Faith

By Tal Haroni

Do not be afraid, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, fear is an unpleasant, often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger

God created in us the mechanism of fear; it is, in fact, a defense mechanism against potential harm. No one needs to teach us to fear; there are things we were created to fear, and it is natural for us as humans to be afraid of them. Some things are very basic, and all humans, and even animals, by the way, react to them with fear. This includes loud noises, flashes of light, something very large rapidly approaching, and so on. All of these things scare us. However, there are things that our life experiences and our perception of the world have taught us to fear. 

For example, when I was young, around 6 or 7, there was a war in Israel, and as a sensitive child, the sirens were loud and frightening. I lived in a place where we saw bombings on a daily basis, and we had to wear gas masks regularly whenever the alarm went off. Today, even though more than 20 years have passed, it takes me a long time to calm down after a siren. My heart rate increases, fear shakes every cell in my body, and I need to calm myself even half an hour to an hour later. Because of this childhood experience, something of that fear lingers even today. 

God created us with the mechanism of fear, and yet, throughout the Scriptures, we read that God tells almost every hero of the Bible, “Do not fear.” So, if God created fear in us, why does He tell us not to be afraid? Isn’t that contradictory? No, it’s not contradictory. Because even though God created fear in us to protect us, there are fears that prevent us from fulfilling His calling in our lives. 

After these things, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.'” Genesis 15:1

God strengthens Abram’s faith, just before he changes his name to Abraham and promises him blessings and descendants. He reminds him of who He is in his life, encourages him not to be afraid, and to believe. A few verses later, God counts Abraham’s faith as righteousness (v.6). God examines hearts and minds, so if He tells Abram, “Do not be afraid,” I can assume that Abram was afraid. Afraid that he wouldn’t have descendants of his own, that his lineage would be cut off, that his obedience wouldn’t bear fruit. We already know the outcome. The same goes for Isaac (Genesis 26:24) and Jacob (Genesis 46:3). God also tells Moses, “Do not be afraid,” before he goes into battle (Numbers 21:34). 

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

God reminds Joshua not to be afraid. Why? Because an enormous task lay ahead of him – to lead the people and inherit the Land. Fear could have silenced him, prevented him from moving forward, and fulfilling the purpose for which he came into this world. 

God tells us not to fear because fear is the opposite of faith. One could say, when I am afraid I give fear power over me, and I trust the Lord and His good plan far less. (I’m referring to the things we’ve learned to fear). 

Even Jesus acknowledged the fear of his disciples throughout the New Testament. He repeatedly tells them not to be afraid. And every time he says, “Do not be afraid,” he reminds them of who He is and why faith, not fear, should lead them. 

God sent an angel to encourage Joseph to take Mary, his betrothed, as his wife (Matthew 1:20), and told him not to worry. God also sent an angel in a dream to the Apostle Paul, telling him not to be afraid (Acts 27:24) for he has a greater task ahead of him. God takes care to repeatedly tell His beloved, “Do not fear, do not worry, do not be afraid.” And the answer is – believe! In fact, He says – just believe (Mark 5:36). The voice of fear can be loud and fill our souls, but the voice of Jesus always calms and pours confidence into us, saying, trust me and believe. 

Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see… And without faith, it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:1, 6).

Faith propels us forward in God’s good plan for our lives. When we choose to believe despite fear, we move forward and fulfill our destiny. Fear may be in the background, but it doesn’t have to dictate the course of our lives. We can trust in God, in His goodness, and walk in faith after Him, hearing Him say to us – do not be afraid, do not worry, I am with you. I have a plan for you and will fulfill it. 

Let’s surrender our fear at the feet of our Father. Let’s ask Him to fill us with faith. Even when fear is present, let’s choose to believe in His goodness. Let’s choose to believe in His perfect plan. Let’s choose to believe that He will not leave us; He is always with us. We can trust in the Lord, in His faithfulness, and in His choice for each one of us. 

Lord Jesus, I believe. Help me overcome fear. Help me stand in faith. Help me place all my trust in You. I know that You are good and have a good reward for Your seekers, and I am Your beloved child; You love me no matter what I’m facing now. You have good things for me. I can grow from this situation. I believe!

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