“And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time. And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there.” (1st Kings 19:1-3)
He arose, and ran for his life, fear. I probably would have done the same thing, and so would have you. For the servant of God, fear is the root of all negative emotions, the foundational response to a heart that says to God “I don’t trust you.” If we are worried, frantic, cowardly, or even reluctant to obey His commandments, we are experiencing fear, and we have lost, or at the very least misplaced our convictions that He is trustworthy and completely in control.
For the unbeliever who has nothing else to fall back on, the opposite of fear is courage, the ability to face the fear and work through it, to not let it conquer them, to not let it hinder them from completing the task at hand. They “muster up the courage,” to move ahead, giving it their best efforts and coming through on the other side a better man. Of course, after these encounters with fear and the triumph over it, they feel better about themselves, they have conquered the enemy, they are the victor and pride swell’s in their hearts at their great achievement. There is only one problem with these individuals, a very big problem indeed, and it is quite easy to bring to their attention, a matter that we will discuss in a moment.
For the believer the scenario is quite different, for the opposite of fear for the servant of God is not courage, but trust. When we lose our trust due to the circumstances surrounding us, we lose the faith that says “God is able,” we forget all of those incidences in the Scripture that say to us, “Fear not,” we lose sight of the fact that we are walking through the valley of the shadow of death, (Psalm 23:4) not setting up camp there. It is our faith that brings us through this valley, a faith in the promises of the One who said that He would walk through it with us. That trust may be lost for a moment, the fear that seems like it is going to last throughout our lifetime is only temporary, or it should be.
Fill in the blank here my friends, and you will see the areas of your life where you need to pray earnestly for the leading of the Lord. “I am still fearful of “blank, I do not trust Christ in this yet.” Now look at the assurance of your salvation, and try to make yourself understand just how much that area that you filled in that blank space really means to you, ask yourself, “Why don’t I trust my Savior with this.” Is this something that you plan on being worried or fearful about a few hundred years from now while you’re taking a leisurely stroll down the golden streets of New Jerusalem?
This is one of the greatest hinderances for the child of God today, they try to convince themselves that they are only concerned with today and the evil in it, (Matt. 6:34) but focus so much on the future possibilities, much less the mistakes of the past, that it is almost impossible for them to give any real consideration to eternity. They are in a sense stuck in the transitory and temporal. Not one single thing that you fear here is going to come with you into the kingdom of God, not one. Why is it so difficult to trust Him here when you know full well that you will be able to trust Him there?
“But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.” (1st Peter 5:10) Lets look at this verse for just a moment, “after ye have suffered a while.” Now, if you know that our Lord is going to allow you to suffer for a short time, and you know that it is going to bring about strengthening and perfection, and you know that it will bring glory to His name, exactly why are you fearful. Do you really believe that He will bring something into your life that is going to draw you away from Him, do you think that He will allow this suffering to come upon you because He wants to see you suffer, that He finds enjoyment from causing you pain and sorrow. He does not need to put you through any trials to see how you are going to react, He already knows, they are for our benefit, it is going to bring you closer to Him, it is going to establish you in this part of your faith that was lacking, it will settle your mind on the fact that He can, and always could be trusted. Your emotional state will be one of faith, not of fear.
“How am I going to make the car payment,” you’re not supposed to be in debt in the first place, (Prov. 22:7) “What will I do if I lose my job,” He will strengthen you and help you, (Isa. 41:10) “How am I supposed to put food on the table,” doesn’t your heavenly Father feed the birds, are you not of much more worth than them, (Matt. 6:26) “I am so afraid of….” Has not our Lord promised to never leave you or forsake you? (Deut. 31:6)
Just about every single fear that we have is based on our emotional beliefs that God will not, or that God cannot, and the opposite of fear for the believer is trust. If you do not trust God in everything, almost anything will cause fear to come into your life. It does not matter what synonym you use, distress, anxiety, apprehensiveness, dread, they are all based in the doubt that God is able, and the ground that the root of doubt grows in is fear. It is one of the greatest weapons in Satan’s arsenal, for fear produces a lack of trust, and he can use that lack of trust to sway the life of the believer towards nearly any area he desires. He is trying to make you believe that God cannot be trusted with a certain part of your life, that you are on your own in this one, and if nothing else, God probably sent this suffering to you because of some grievous sin that you committed. He does not want us to trust God, that is the last thing he wants, for the servants of God that trust Him implicitly are useful tools in the hands of our Mighty Lord.
Let me return now to the lost, those that believe that they can find the courage to get through almost any situation if they just apply their minds to the problem. The continuing feeding of the beast of pride is of course one of the main reasons that these lost souls have a great desire to face their problems and expel them from their lives, not one of them wants to be seen as a coward, they seek the praise of men constantly, and to be seen as one that could not “figure their way out of it” is to bring fear in the form of shame into their lives. They will generally not let anyone see the fears that they hide so well, for that would make them less in the eyes of their peers. For others that are lost, fear is an easy way for our adversary to keep them in control, keep them in subjection, keep their eyes off the cross, there is always something to be afraid of, and if that one thing that they are most afraid of is their own death, all the better.
As I stated earlier, there is one big problem with these individuals, and the context of that conversation is really quite easy, bring up the subject of death, their departure from this earthly life. It is the one problem that they cannot fix, though since the beginning of man they have tried to, in fact, our adversary was the first to attempt to entertain this belief within them that they could thwart death. “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” (Gen. 3:5) God’s don’t die. It is the deepest emotional context of fear that the lost have, it is the one area of their lives that they know they have absolutely no control over, it is going to happen and they cannot stop it, and they fear it above all else.
Herein is the reason why your trust must be complete in our Lord, this is why you must understand that for the Christian the opposite of fear is trust. There can be no doubts whatsoever, the One who has given you the assurance of eternal life with Him in the Kingdom of His Father is the same one you need to trust today, tomorrow, every day, in everything, no questions, no doubts. If you cannot do that, how are you going to confidently tell them about the unending love, the joy beyond comprehension that awaits you, and could be waiting for them. If they see your doubts, if they see your lack of trust, even in the smallest way, they too will doubt.
Do not misinterpret these words to mean that we are always to have a wonderful smile on our faces and a song in our hearts, just try to do that when someone you love deeply dies and your lost neighbor shows up at your house. What it does mean is that you need to be ready in every season to give an account of your faith, (1st Peter 3:15) that just because you have a moment of grief, followed by a infinitesimal time of doubt, does not mean that is your normal lifestyle in Christ. We are human, we doubt, He forgives. That is what they need to know. They must know of the reason for our hope, and that the sting of death holds no grasp upon us, and that it can be that way for them also.
The opposite of fear for the lost is courage, for the Christian that opposite is trust. Fear not, trust in the Lord with all your heart. There should be no reason that it should be necessary for our Lord to constantly have to prove that He loves you over and over every single day, He did that on the cross. But I am going to guess that in your own personal life He has shown you that love time and time again. Trust Him my friends, He has proven to be trustworthy, let the perfect love of Christ cast all that fear aside. “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” (1st Peter 4:12-13)