Today I came face to face with my fears. I came across a giant beetle in the house, minding its own business. Normally, it is spiders in the house that instill fear within me. They get my heart racing. I sweat. I cry. I tremble. Turns out it’s not just spiders. This beast of a beetle rivaled the biggest harvest spider. I started to panic. My heart began to race. I felt faint. Hubby’s at work. Beetle cannot stay there. Thus, I must deal with the beetle. Maybe I do have a phobia of insects…
Crying, I decided to phone mum. She lives hundreds of miles away, but she was there for me in my time of need, like she always has been. Don’t laugh at my irrational fear and the fact that I picked up the phone to call home…
Mum walked me step by step in how to deal with the beetle. By the end of the weeping, panicking and guidance from mum, the beetle was dealt with.
Today is also the 10th anniversary of the bombings that took place on July 7th 2005 in London. Twitter has picked up on the #sevenseven trend with over 44.1K tweets posted on the social networking site. Pictures fill the internet today and everyday with news of bombings across the world. Let us not ‘normalise’ these events because they are commonplace, for that could lead us towards the road of indifference.
“Just another dozen people killed in a bomb attack in such and such a place. What are we having for lunch?”
It is easy with the instant reporting and access to technology to normalise such horrific events. We get so used to the bad news that it almost becomes commonplace. We become indifferent to the individual lives that are being lost. These are people, people!
However, the horrific bombings, shootings and mass killings have begun to do something different in me. Access to news stories and images have begun to instill another feeling which is just as dangerous as indifference:
I cannot avoid feeling this when I see yet another horrific crime committed by someone or some group against another person or group.
From the top of my head I think of Dylann Roof shooting 9 black Christians after spending an hour with them at a bible study. I see young children and teenagers being trained by ISIS and Boko Haram to murder innocent people in the name of a perverse ideology. I read of the Tunisia attack where 38 innocent holiday makers were shot dead. Sometimes as I lay awake at night, I think of the events that I have read about and wonder what if it had been me? What if it had affected someone that I knew and loved? Fear creeps in.
Fear of insects. Fear of terror and crime. The world is full to the brim of insects, terror and crime. Is there no escape…?
A beetle and the 7/7 bombings in London both create this sense of fear in me (albeit a different kind of fear perhaps…).
As I sit and reflect on all the emotions that fear can bring with it, I am reminded of certain bible verses on fear and anxiety.
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. Psalm 56:3
Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27
I could continue with many more verses on this topic. What strikes me is that these four verses are enough to reassure and comfort me, but at the same time make me crumple up inside. When I saw that beetle, I did not place my trust in the Lord. I think I put that beetle on a higher shelf in my heart than God in that moment when fear struck. When I read the headlines, I do get dismayed on what I see around me, I don’t feel strong and courageous and there is a sense of dread after the event has happened.
Reading this small collection of verses, however, is enough to make me get on my knees and pray these verses over myself. I pray for the Lord to make these truths become so evident in my heart that I will know that He is with me, and that He is there. It is God who strengthens and gives courage to me. My confidence is in the Lord (Proverbs 3:26).
In the same way that my mum was there to guide me through my fear of beetles, the Lord is by my side as a gentle comfort, steadfast strength and an ever present help in times of trouble (Psalm 46:1). In the same way that the victims and friends of the Charleston church shooting were able to forgive Dylann Roof, the same forgiveness of God is for all people who turn to Him and repent.
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. Matthew 6:14
The Fear of The Lord
In the bible, it talks about fearing God. Surely this is the same fear that makes me tremble at the insect or feel anxious in the moment of affliction?
No, it’s not!
When we believe that God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16), we have a reverence and awe for God. This reverence and awe is what the fear of God looks like. It is very different from being afraid of insects or terrorism.
Also, Proverbs 1:7 says that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge”. That doesn’t sound like an irrational fear to me. When we know that God is holy, just and righteous, we have wisdom and knowledge. We realise that God hates sin and we long to walk in obedience because we have a reverent fear for Him.
Matthew 10:28 says: “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
Do we accept God and know that He is the One who has the final say? Or do we ignore God and follow our own rules or the ideologies and ideas of something or someone else? Our natural feeling towards being killed is fear, and yet we are told not to fear this! There is someone greater to fear and that is to fear God who has the authority and power to destroy body and soul in hell. If God did not deal with the sin and evil of the world, he would not be a just God.
God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day. Psalm 7:11
God does care. He sees what atrocities are committed in ‘the name of God’ and it angers Him. There is nothing Christ-like about terrorism. Wasn’t it God that said ‘Do not murder?’ God has made a way for us to repent and follow Him, despite our sinful nature and desire to do life ‘our way’. Yet God is patient. Love is patient. And God is love.
Whilst we are on this planet, we have the choice to follow God, to love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19) and to be in eternity with God in heaven. Or we can choose to live a life separate from Him, which ultimately results in an eternity separated from God anyways. I know what choice I would make.
We were created to be in a relationship with Him and He loves us. God died for us as an atonement for our sin.
And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach–if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven… Colossians 1:21-23
Bring yourself to the Lord today. He is with you, my friend. His perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18).