Every human being who has ever lived has had to face fear. Each person’s story is different.
While fear is simply a part of our day-to-day lives here on earth, how we direct our fear determines how we view our life situations and engage in our relationships. Have we allowed our fears to become bigger than our faith in God?
Honestly, battling fear has been one of my greatest ongoing battles. There are times when I’ve made people bigger than God by putting too much weight behind their thoughts toward me—or the thoughts I perceive they have toward me. At times, I project the worst possible outcomes onto situations that haven’t yet happened and end up paralyzed by a fear that is untrusting of God’s sovereignty. I’ve gotten used to living with a level of stress (read: fear)—carrying a weight I’m not meant to shoulder—because deep down, I don’t trust that God can handle my problems.
Years ago, I shared about my struggle against fear with a mentor-friend. She told me, “If you have this disposition to fear, then fear God alone.” It’s been a powerful reminder over the years of the true antidote to ungodly fear: the fear of the LORD that strengthens and empowers us to live courageously. The Prophet Isaiah exhorted the Israelites of his time with these words: Do not fear anything except the LORD Almighty. He alone is the Holy One. If you fear Him, you need fear nothing else. He will keep you safe (Isaiah 8:13-14 my paraphrase). As we grow in our knowledge of God and come to live every minute in wide-eyed wonder at the fullness and beauty of his character, we will have nothing else to fear.
To grow in the fear of the LORD is a wonderfully humbling-yet-liberating process. This kind of fear doesn’t drive us away from his presence but makes us want to come to him, lean on him in life situations and to know him more. When we come face to face with the utter vastness of his glory, authority, and mercy toward us, our response is wholehearted worship. Our own self-confidence and sense of goodness is displaced with the truth that only he is good and able.
In this place of humility, with our gaze heavenward, we can better understand our own identity. We come to terms with our limitations and live boldly because we know the power and love of the One who lives within us! We destroy “speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God” and take “every thought captive to the obedience of Messiah” (2 Corinthians 10:5) We begin thinking about ourselves and our worldly fears less and less as we gain a heavenly perspective. No longer will we question what other people think of us like we used to, or worry about our future. When surrendering our lives into the hands of such a great God, we’ll have newfound contentment and peace even in difficult situations because we’ll believe he’s working everything out for our good.
Cultivating a healthy fear of the LORD takes intentionality. We can be confident that God himself will partner with us as we commit ourselves to learning. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge. The goal is to establish a daily practice of growing in the knowledge of God by consistently reading and meditating on his words and praying that he will teach us. This stirs our souls to find such knowledge beautiful and attractive.
Here are a few portions of the Bible that I found to be extra helpful to meditate on as I’ve been growing in the fear of the LORD. Many of you already have a head start by reading and studying the Torah parashah each week. The Torah is God’s own self-disclosure to his people Israel and the world. Review the creation psalms: Psalms 8; 19; 29; 65; and 104. Meditate on the enthronement psalms: Psalms 95-97 and 99. Memorize Psalm 139. This chapter tells us how God’s protective care is so extensive it reaches into every part of our lives. And, lastly, check out Job 38-41 where God takes four whole chapters to make clear to Job that he knows the profound intricacies of the creatures and universe he created. These are the truths that we must get deep down inside of us. When we do, we’ll never be the same.
Maybe you have a similar story. How big is God to you? Is he bigger than any fear or struggle you’re facing? Let’s grow in our fear of God by growing in the understanding of who he is in our lives. Believe that he is who he says he is, and that you are who he says you are. If you fear him, you need fear nothing else. Ungodly fear makes something bigger than God, and nothing is bigger than God.