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It’s ok to be afraid


Some of the Bible’s most encouraging verses tell us not to be afraid – that God is with us. Some argue the fear of God is the only good fear.

This can lead people to a feeling of inadequacy or worthlessness.

Leaders, especially, should not be afraid… because they know they can rest on the Lord, and should set a good example of a peaceful heart. And they should exhort their followers to show no fear and a complete boldness in everything they undertake.


Image: Wil Wheaton, reused under CC license

God knows us perfectly. He knows our fears, and he knows how to deal with them if and when appropriate. Look at what he says to Gideon:

“But if you are afraid to go down, go down to the camp with Purah your servant.” (Judges 7:10, ESV).

Gideon does not try to look tough in front of God. He does not try to pretend he’s not afraid. He takes God’s advice, acknowledges his own fear and goes down to the camp.

In the same way, we should not try to pretend we’re not afraid: it can only lead to that fear taking hold of us, or to a feeling of undue pride and self-importance.

Conversely, though, we should recognise when our “fear” is a lie. When it is simply disguising laziness or fickleness in front of a decision. The fact that God knows us and loves us and is on our side means that he will deal with our fear, if it is real, in due time.

Ever since I started to feel a call towards ministry, I have felt the fear that I was mistaken. That I wouldn’t be up to the task. God has dealt with that fear, in many various ways (including making me stumble upon a few great bloggers – thanks Ben; and including leading me to certain parts of Scripture). But still now, I sometimes feel like I’m afraid to make the wrong decision. That fear is a lie – it is simply a way for me to justify putting off decisions; and recognising it helps.

Which of your fears are lies? Which are real?

Praying at all times?

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Image by davedhetre reused under CC license

The story of Jesus calming the storm can be read on many levels: at the most basic, it is a display of Jesus’s authority over the storm. On a different level, we can draw parallels with prayer. Looking closer, we notice that Jesus rebukes his disciples when they wake him.

Puzzlement follows. Why should he rebuke his disciples when all they do is give over the matters to him? When they place their trust in him?

There are two elements:

  1. They turn to Jesus when they are most afraid. Only as a last resort, almost reluctantly.
  2. They actually are afraid. This is where we must keep in mind that it is Jesus who suggested the trip.

Praying at all times is important. It is a privilege, and the way to know the peace that comes from God. This should be done in thanksgiving, and in complete confidence that God will see us through.

But in this story, the disciples had to wake up Jesus, because they feared – feared that the plan he had set would not come through. In doing so, they did not recognise that Jesus had authority over all.

When the going gets tough, we sometimes feel like we must pray – “pray until something happens”. Should we do so, or should we simply trust God has heard our prayers?

Still, there is another lesson to be drawn from this story. Jesus woke up. Even when we wake up God for no serious reason, he calms us and the storm.