BY JORDAN MAYER
“He said to them, ‘Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?’”
Fear is a funny thing, isn’t it? Given a certain stimulus, the strongest, most confident individuals can quickly be overcome and immobilized. We call these kinds of fears, phobias, due to their extreme and often irrational nature. Case in point is the fact that public speaking often takes the top billing as peoples’ greatest fear, beating out clowns, strangers, and drowning. Even the fears that may not debilitate us can still control and influence our decisions. Where we go, who we talk to, or what we choose to do (or not do) can all be motivated by fear.
The Bible speaks about a great many fears. Fear of man. Fear of what tomorrow will bring. Fear of judgment. Fear of suffering. Fear of what we do not understand. Fear of death. The list goes on…
But we also know that again and again, throughout the Scriptures, we are encouraged to “fear not!”
So what is the key to living a life free from fear? Jesus provides the answer in His response to His disciples during their perils on the sea.
Jesus and His disciples were on their way across the Sea of Galilee when they encountered a sudden and severe storm. The winds were battering, the waves were crashing, and the boat was filling with water. By all accounts, the disciples were in fear for their very lives.
Meanwhile, their Master was fast asleep below, seemingly unaware and oblivious to the dire circumstances above deck. They rouse Him from His rest and, by the mere power of His word, the winds cease and the waters still.
Place yourself in the midst of this situation. The wind is howling in your ears, making it difficult to even communicate with those around you. The sea is spraying across your face and the waves are washing over your body. It seems certain you are about to die. It is a scene of chaos and utter despair. But then, in an instant, there is calm and peace. All is quiet.
Then Jesus speaks, and He asks them a question: “Why are you so afraid?”
Was the gravity of the situation just a few minutes prior lost on Jesus? I think not. Remember it was Jesus who rebuked the mighty wind and waves.
Jesus asks a second question of His disciples that gets at the root of the issue. “Have you still no faith?”, He asks.
These disciples had seen firsthand His power to heal. They had witnessed Him cast out demons and heard those same evil spirits declare Him to be the Son of the Most High God (Mark 3:11). They had the very secrets of the kingdom of God revealed to them (Mark 4:11). And yet, now they fear this storm before them.
Ultimately, the battle over fear is a battle over faith. The fight against fear is the fight for faith. This faith is not abstract. It is not a positive outlook or a general feeling that things will work out in the end. Faith is in the person and work of Jesus Christ. It is Jesus who says, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me” (John 14:1).
Look at what Jesus says to the ruler of the synagogue as His daughter lies dead in his house. Do not fear, only believe. (Luke 8:49-50). Or to the many other recipients of Jesus’ miracles, He reminds them that it was their faith that made them well.
A lack of fear is not found in the absence of that which makes us afraid, it is found in the fullness of faith in God.
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Faith empowers us with the knowledge that death is actually gain (Philippians 1:21). It reminds us that all things work together for our good (Romans 8:28). It comforts us with the truth that nothing can separate us from God’s love (Romans 8:39).
You see, in light of the truth of the Gospel, there is no longer any need to fear. For our true and greatest fear, the fear of God's judgment, has been addressed at the Cross by Jesus himself. As Romans 8:1 declares, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” If we are freed from so great a fear as this, how can we possibly fear whatever else may come our way?
So fear not, Christian, only have faith.