Did you know that the command “Fear not” is by far the most repeated command in the Bible, across both Testaments? We can so easily paint an inaccurate, unrealistic picture of biblical heroes in our minds. The fact is they, like we, struggled with fear and anxiety about God’s working in their lives. This is of course the only explanation as to why we see this constant refrain throughout Scripture: “Fear not.”
God specifically speaks to both Moses and Joshua before numerous difficult and bloody battles, saying to them, “Fear not.” David says to his son Solomon, as he contemplates the responsibility of building a temple for God: “Do not be afraid … for the LORD God, even my God, is with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
The prophet Elijah says to the woman who is gathering sticks to make a last meal before she and her son starve to death: “Do not fear.” God tells King Jehoshaphat, facing an alliance of armies coming against Israel, “Do not be afraid … the Lord will be with you.” God speaks to his people Israel over and over again through his prophets, telling them even in exile not to be afraid to come to God in repentance and faith.
The story of God’s working throughout human history is the story of him working in the midst of terrifying situations to help his anxious, confused, and hurting people.
In the book of Acts, an angel appears to Paul—who is on a ship on his way to prison in Rome, having been in prison already for two years, and now the ship is caught in a terrible storm—and what does the angel say to Paul the apostle? Not, “You’re right, Paul, there’s nothing to worry about.” No, the angel says, “Don’t be afraid, Paul.” How does the angel begin his address to both Joseph and to Mary in order to tell them of their child who would be conceived by the Holy Spirit? “Fear not.” And Jesus himself turns to Jairus immediately after he receives the news that his daughter is dead, and says: “Do not be afraid.”
The repeated admonition not to fear only makes sense if these believers are genuinely wrestling with deep distress. And these examples merely skim the surface.
There are countless troubled believers in the pages of Scripture, and they are being constantly encouraged that there is no need to fear. The story of God’s working throughout human history is the story of him working in the midst of terrifying situations in order to help his anxious, confused, and hurting people. It is the story of scared people facing terrible, painful trials through shaky-knee faith in the promises of God … although at times there seemed to be no way out of the pain, no end to the sorrow, no answer to the many, many, many prayers.
You are not alone, Christian believer! God’s people have always wrestled with fear, with questions, with sickening doubts when it comes to the many challenges of living in a sinful world. Yet the answer continually returns: there is no need to fear! Why? Because God is with his people. God will always be with his people. God will never forsake his people. And if God is our God, there is never any reason to fear. Ever.