I have struggled with fear or worry on some level for a long time. Unfortunately it has been an influencing force in me far too often. In fact, I have for much of my life thought that around this time of year, fear seems to take the mountain and rule unchecked (any fellow “fraidy-cats” like me?) The other day my daughter asked out of the blue if more kidnappings take place on Halloween. I had to think for a minute about why she could possibly be asking that question and then I realized: this is fear creeping into her mind. So we talked about it – two people prone to fear over faith.
I asked both of my kids to think about what amazing, seemingly impossible things had God done for them. We listed out several things from successes with school, to health and the provision of free things that we didn’t expect to get (a lesson on grace for another time).
We also thought about numerous examples in the Bible of amazing things that God did in impossible or terrifying circumstances: Sarah got pregnant at an impossible age, the Red Sea was parted so Israel could escape Egypt, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo survived the fiery furnace, Daniel came face-to-face with hungry lions and didn’t have a scratch, Noah’s family survived a world-wide flood, David faced a real giant and won…so many examples of the strength and protection of God!
I wonder if Jesus was thinking about these demonstrations of God’s might throughout Israel’s history when he was defying fear and napping in the middle of a hair-raising storm? Mark 4:37-40 recounts the story of Jesus sleeping in a boat about to be capsized. The disciples were terrified. Their imaginations were most likely running wild with tales of sea monsters that could swallow them whole! They thought they had every reason to be afraid. Yet, here was Jesus completely unafraid, in fact, he wasn’t even awake! Jesus surely knew all the same stories – how is it he could sleep so soundly? What the disciples apparently forgot was the fuel of their faith. Jesus knew who held them: the Almighty Creator, the Father, The Great ‘I Am’. Jesus knew the One who had defied physics (because He created physics) and parted the Red Sea. He knew the One who prevented three men from being burned alive. He knew the One who told the giant fish to spit Jonah out on shore. With a God this mighty who loved them, what horrifying thing could possibly happen to them that would render Him unable to take care of them? Jesus knew that even in death He still could trust God and place his hope firmly in His Father’s love and sovereignty.
As I think back to this conversation with my kids about this “scary” time of year in light of what Jesus has taught me, it doesn’t seem so scary any more. What is there really to fear? There are certainly some ugly images that can fill our minds with frightful thoughts perhaps much like those the disciples had in that storm. But all of those frightful thoughts are just a noisy storm stirred up in the absence of love. Love does not create or perpetuate fear. In fact, perfect love drives fear away. That is why Jesus could rest and defy fear – He was secure in the knowledge of God’s perfect love for them. This is real faith. That same love is ours as well.
We don’t need to hide in fear or run away from a world that seems to emphasize fear at this time of year. We know the same Almighty God that gave Jesus the power to make the terrifying storm instantly still to silence! The love the Father has for us is the same love. The confidence He gave Jesus to sleep in the midst of disaster and the power to instantly still the storm is ours as well. We can confidently walk through crowds of “scary” faces and neighborhoods of haunted houses defying fear just like Jesus and instead carrying peace, the light of Christ, and the love of God to everyone we meet. We have no reason to fear because the Father, who’s hand we hold, loves us perfectly and completely. Out of His perfect love comes all that we need in order to stand firm, unafraid, as lights in the darkness.