Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
We don’t like talking about our fears—some of them are too personal. It may appear we are weak and not coping with life. Yet most of us are afraid of something, or someone.
Think back to school days. Was there a bully in your school? There probably was that older boy or girl who gave you a hard time and never let up. Perhaps you didn’t want to attend school in fear of that nasty person. Maybe your parents didn’t take it seriously enough, but you can still remember those days.
As an adult we may fear:
- losing our money, or worry our investments won’t allow us to retire
- staying where we are and not being sure about going somewhere else
- not living up to expectations or not having enough close friends.
And sadly, when the bully fear moves in, everything else moves out. Fear and happiness cannot live in the same heart. Fear and clear thinking cannot live in the same body. Fear and confidence cannot coexist.
We don’t have to live in fear
But when we think logically, fear never cured a disease. Fear never brought a family out of poverty and never fought a war or saved a marriage. And fear lets everyone else do the living while we do the existing. Fear is like a bully lurking in the hallways of life telling us to retreat and go another way. And what’s fair about that? Nothing. It only cripples our emotions and inhibits our experiences of life. Surely we can do better than that.
Is it possible to live without a crippling fear? Jesus was one day in a boat on the sea of Galilee in a basin surrounded by mountains—in a boat with his disciples. A furious storm broke and lashed the boat to such an extent the men feared they would drown. But Jesus was sleeping peacefully, unafraid. They woke him in panic and fear, Don’t you care that we’re about to drown?—they were facing death by shipwreck.
This was no ordinary storm. Remember that some of the disciples were professional fishermen—they knew boats and water. But this was like a tornado that hit their small boat—a terrifying moment. They were sitting ducks out in the middle of a lake with no recourse, no solutions, totally at the mercy of whatever happened next.
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Have you ever been there? Being at the mercy of what happens next? Not nice, is it? And it happens to the nicest people—the waves are coming over the boat and it’s only a matter of time. Wave after wave of bills, waves of discouragement, waves of heartache. We think, If one more wave hits me I am sunk! Some storms we can see coming but some storms just arrive without warning. That’s when we need Jesus to help out, big time—and he will come.
Does God really care?
But it doesn’t happen straight away. Fear corrodes our confidence in God’s goodness. Does God really care if he can sleep while there’s a storm going on in our life? Fear unleashes a wave of doubt. When we think that we have lost control we experience fear at its greatest level. When things are spinning out of control, we will grab for whatever we think we can handle, even if it’s the armrest of a plane that is going to crash.
In that boat, Jesus said to the men, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. When the waves were coming over the edge and we were wondering if we could hold on, we found out that Jesus was in the boat with us. It’s not about the storm—it’s all about who you discover in the storm: Jesus our Lord and Saviour.
The Bible is constantly telling us not to be afraid—365 times to be exact. God doesn’t want us to live a life of fear—he wants us to be set free; to live a productive life. Someone said, “Faith is the courage that allows us to walk through our fears.” We can walk through our fears, because of our faith. As we walk through the fear our faith deepens.
When we turn to Jesus in the midst of our storms, our focus shifts from staring at the storm to staring at God. If we are looking at him, then we aren’t looking at the storm. Jesus doesn’t promise that we’ll never face fearful circumstances. Instead, he teaches that God is greater than whatever we are facing and he is in control.