Can We Really Be Free from Excessive Fears?

Fear is such a powerful force in our experience.

Fear is designed by God and has a wonderful, protective benefit for us when it functions as God designed it. Instinctual fears are tremendous mercies, protecting us from danger before we even have time to think. Rational fears, the fears we have time to think about, when operating under the governance of faith, can protect us from all manner of foolish and sinful impulses and from external, deceptive evil.

But for most of us, fear often does not function as it was designed. It is not under the governance of our trust in God and therefore wields an excessive, distorting influence over our thinking and behaviors. If fear is misplaced we think and act wrongly. Misplaced fear becomes a tyrant that imposes constrictive limits and leaves us debilitated in some or much of our lives. Under its rule we don’t do what we know we should because we are afraid.

We all desire to be free of this tyrant. But is this possible? Can we really be free from excessive fears? Jesus’s answer is yes.

“Why Are You So Afraid?”

But to pursue this freedom, we must allow Jesus to ask us the question that he asked his disciples after he calmed the deadly storm: “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” (Mark [4:40])

Why were the disciples so afraid? Had you asked them while the storm was raging and Jesus was sleeping they would have shouted, “Look around! Isn’t it obvious?” They had good earthly reason to panic. A number of them were experienced boatmen, familiar with Galilean storms. Large waves like these had quickly swamped and sunk other boats like theirs. But had you asked them after Jesus calmed the storm, they would have said, “We really didn’t believe that he had that kind of power.”

While the storm raged the disciples believed that it was more powerful than Jesus and acted accordingly — in a panic. They did not acknowledge, because they did not believe, that Jesus ruled over this earthly danger. They didn’t trust him. In fact, they were exasperated with his apparent indifference and cried out, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” (Mark [4:38])

But it’s important to note that when Jesus rebuked the disciples, it wasn’t merely because they feared the storm. Fear of a danger stronger than we are is appropriate, right in line with God’s design. Jesus rebuked them for fearing the lesser power over the greater Power. And this gets to the nub of the issue for our fears too.

Why are you so afraid? It’s a very profound question. It drives right to the heart of the matter.

Written by Jon Bloom
Read more at Desiring God

Leave a Reply