Afraid of not knowing when to be afraid …

Five-year-old Johnny was in the kitchen while his mother made supper. She asked him to go into the pantry and get her a can of tomato soup, but he didn’t want to go in alone.

“It’s dark in there and I’m scared,” he said.

She asked again, and he persisted. Finally she said, “It’s okay, Jesus will be in there with you.”

Johnny walked hesitantly to the door of the pantry and slowly opened it. He peeked inside, saw it was dark, and started to leave when all at once an idea came and he said, “Jesus, if you’re in there, would you hand me that can of tomato soup?”

Fear can be the ugly source of keeping us from doing the simplest to the greatest of things. Even though we know fear does not come from God (2 Timothy 1:7), there’s an irrational aspect about fear that negatively motivates us to hang on to our fears: the fear of being wrong about our fears.

You’re feeling poorly, and a few odd pains have hit you. Could it be something serious? Your mind and emotions are immediately flooded with a powerful inclination to be afraid. Instead, you remind yourself fear doesn’t come from God, and no matter what, God will be with you. But then you ask yourself, “What if something really is wrong? What if this is serious?”

We talk ourselves into holding onto our fears because we don’t know when to be afraid and when not to. We think if something really is “wrong,” that is the time to be afraid. And that’s the irrational aspect of fear. For Christians, no matter how “wrong” something might be or become, there isn’t a time to entertain fear, for no event or experience can ever come about where God will not be with us to guide us each step of the way.

A bad diagnosis …

A terrible accident …

A tragic loss …

A painful betrayal …

Whatever might come our way, there is nothing that God will not see us through and bring about, ultimately, to our best interests.

In 1 Samuel 21, we read that David had an experience with the Philistines in Gath that scared him deeply.

“David heard these comments and was very afraid of what King Achish of Gath might do to him. So he pretended to be insane, scratching on doors and drooling down his beard,” 1 Samuel 21:12-13.

Fear initially motivated David to some very odd behavior. From that experience he would later write:

“But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you. I praise God for what he has promised. I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? What can mere mortals do to me?” Psalm 56:3-4.

David realized that even in the middle of those times when we think we should be afraid, there is no reason for the Christian to fear simply because God’s love and care for us is bigger than what anyone or anything could ever do to us.

This does not mean we will not face difficult and deeply painful experiences in life. It does mean God will be with us in the midst of those experiences, and His final outcome for us will always bring glory to Him and be good for us.

In that case, we don’t have to wonder when to be afraid and when not to.