We live in a world inundated with fear. A sense of danger lurks in the shadows. Our comfort zones evaporate all around us. Muggings, drive-by shootings, workplace violence—we can feel our security threatened by hateful hands. And unbelievably, now we must face the reality of global terrorist threats inflicting harm on innocent citizens. Questions roll around in our heads as we attempt to negotiate daily life. Is it safe to take public transportation? Should I cancel my next airplane trip? Can I safely take my family to a sporting event at the local stadium?
How should we live when our sense of safety has been stolen from us? I have always been intrigued by a phrase found about 100 times in the Bible: Do not be afraid. Most often that admonition comes from the Lord or one of his messengers. The fact that God repeats that phrase to so often should remind us that those who have gone before—in every generation—have had as we do reason to fear.
Sometimes those fears resulted from uncertain circumstances in individuals’ lives. Sometimes they come from the specter of frightening futures. Often they emerge from others seeking to bring harm. Regardless of the source of the uncertainty, God’s response remains the same: Do not be afraid.
I received a fresh reminder of this truth when I read Joshua 10:8. “The Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid of them; I have given them into your hand. Not one of them will be able to withstand you.” The passage of Joshua 10:1-15 recounts the story of God going before Joshua and his men in a fight against five armies of soldiers who planned an attack on Hebrew allies. God worked several miracles to guarantee victory. The most obvious miracle occurred as God stopped the earth’s rotation for a day.
Sophisticated computers in the field of astronomy report an anomaly in the heavens around that time period that lasted for 23 hours and 20 minutes. I think Joshua 10:13 appropriately accounts for that anomaly. God also gave the Hebrew soldiers incredible strength to travel all night and then fight for nearly 48 hours. Further, God brought psychological confusion and disorientation to their enemies, providing a tactical advantage (Judges 10:10). This story of victory from God illustrates just one example of how he helped his people choose faith over fear.
I think the Lord has the same word for us used when he comforted his people with throughout biblical history. He reaches out to us with the same message proclaimed down through the ages: Do not be afraid.
The Old Testament account of God’s people finds them in threat of peril, domination, or exile throughout much of their history. Often the context of God’s appeal to them not to be afraid came in their most vulnerable circumstances. Every time, God reminded them that he was walking every step with them and would provide for them in times of their deepest need.
I take heart in that fact. We live in a world filled with the shadows of danger and threats. But we serve a God who walks with us and whispers those comforting words our ears long to hear: Do not be afraid. I chose faith over fear.
Frank M. Moore, editor-in-chief of Holiness Today