Fear is part of the human experience. It motivates us to act in ways that in hindsight we wish we hadn’t. It’s even worse if it reveals something important is lacking.
The word “fear” appears almost 400 times in the Bible, describing a range of human situations. In one story, we see a reaction to astraphobia (fear of storms). Late one evening, some men were in a small boat. Jesus was with them, asleep. A great storm arose over the sea and they woke him. “Save us, Lord; we are perishing!” they cried. He admonished, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” This was early in his earthly ministry and people were still learning about Him. He did rebuke the winds that night. “What kind of man is this?” they marveled (Matt. 8:24-27).
Fear moves in when faith is lacking. Many human fears, regardless of their fancy phobia words, are grounded in the fear of the unknown. Those men didn’t know how bad the storm would become. They didn’t know their chosen role in revealing God’s plan in that moment. They didn’t know how much Jesus loved them even amidst hardship. They didn’t know God the Son was in the boat with them. He rebuked the winds that night because He meant for them to know Him and learn to trust Him.
The most powerful antidote to fear is knowing the love of God. “God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us…There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:16-18). Anything else is an inferior antidote to fear. C. S. Lewis wrote, “It is very desirable that we should all advance to that perfection of love in which we shall fear no longer; but it is very undesirable, until we have reached that stage, that we should allow any inferior agent to cast out our fear.” Those inferior agents may mask fears, but they don’t rebuke them.
Three years later, those men knew much about Jesus’ purpose and love. Under threat of imprisonment and death for telling about Jesus they declared to the authorities, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). Faith moved by love made them fearless.
If the God of the universe can reconcile you to Himself by His death on the cross, then His providential love can overcome fear of the unknown, even fear of death. You know your destiny. Jesus went to prepare a place for you, and it’s a place of love that no uncertainties in this life can take away. Knowing Him, you can stand firm in your faith, abide in God’s love, and rebuke the winds of fear.