“I sought the Lord and he answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4
The one positive fear that the Bible endorses is the fear of God. Wise Solomon said fearing God is the beginning of wisdom. It was Oswald Chambers who added, “The remarkable thing about fearing God is that, when you fear God, you fear nothing else; whereas, if you do not fear God, you fear everything else.”
In Eritrea, Helen Berhane was frequently tortured during her almost three years in the shipping container prison. In spite of that she had no fear. Once when interrogated for teaching the Bible to the guards outside her cell, she replied, “I am always looking for opportunities to talk about my faith and to spread the news about Jesus. I am not ashamed of the gospel and I will talk to anyone and to everyone. Jesus does not just want me to tell the prisoners about him, he wants me to tell the guards too. Even if the president were to visit the prison, I would tell him about the gospel.
“I am not afraid of you. You can do what you want to me, but ultimately all you can do is kill my body; you cannot touch my soul. You cannot even kill me unless it is God’s will that I should die.”
Her persecutors had no answer and returned her to her shipping container.
David Aikman writes in his book Great Souls about the personal life of Pope John Paul II—especially his personal prayer life. When he became pope in 1978, the result of all that personal prayer was evident in his inaugural sermon. “Be not afraid!” he said.
He recognized that fear is a sin because it denies the sovereignty of God. And he recognized that as a leader of a large Church, and unwaveringly opposed to the powerful communist Empire, he had to give people the courage to resist evil.
And courageous he was. When he saw Russian tanks poised to invade Poland, the Pope announced he would go and stand with his people if the Soviets crossed the border. The Soviet tanks did not move.
The Pope knew he might face assassination—and indeed, someone did try to assassinate him—yet he continued to tell the world, “Be not afraid.”
So today let us live in the positive fear of God so that we will not fear anything or anyone else.
Dear Lord, we pray that all Christians in fearful situations today will have the attitude of trust in the Lord and not fear for their lives, in and through Jesus. Amen
Grace and Peace