When I was a kid, I was afraid of the dark. I imagined all kinds of creatures and dangers that lived there. When I went outside at night, I just knew some kind of monster would grab me. Of course, they all lived in my imagination; they were not real.
Fear is often like that. Bigger than reality.
But try telling that to someone who is caught in the jaws of fear. Try telling yourself. It is hard to talk ourselves down from the ledge of fear–unless we see a greater power. When dad or mom joined me in the dark, fear evaporated.
Of course, some of our fears are based on reality. It is unreasonable fear I am speaking about–the kind that engulfs our minds, steals our sleep, triggers bad decisions, breaks relationships. During the COVID-19 Pandemic, there are many fears.
It is a well known story, but it speaks to both kinds of fear, real or imagined.
Jesus and His disciples had just finished a long day of ministry. They got into a boat to cross the Sea of Galilee, and an extremely tired Jesus soon fell asleep.
Suddenly, a “furious storm” came up, the kind that makes even experienced sailors afraid. Waves were crashing over the boat. Winds pummeled it. Giant swells threatened to capsize it. Jesus’ followers literally thought they were going to die.
Suddenly, a flash of lightning revealed their sleeping Teacher. In their efforts to save themselves, they had forgotten He was with them. Desperately, the disciples shook him awake with, “Lord, save us! We are going to drown!” (Matthew 8:25).
“He replied, ‘You of little faith, why are you so afraid?’ Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, ‘What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!’”Matthew 8:26, 27
When I read this, I am tempted to answer Jesus’ question. “Why was I so afraid? Uh, Jesus did you see how big those waves were? How strong the wind was? Didn’t you feel the fear of death we felt? Didn’t you see the sea monsters who were trying to swallow us up?”
Then I remember. He just stood up calmly and commanded the wind and waves to stop, and it became completely still. “What kind of man is this, indeed!”
In the middle of our fears, we are invited by this story to remember a few things:
First, God is with us in our storms and fears. He might appear to be unaware of what we are going through, but reality is, nothing escapes His attention. In His human weakness, Jesus was sleeping; but His Father wasn’t. And Jesus rested in His Father’s love and care. Now, He teaches His followers, they can too. If He allows us to go through a storm, He will be with us.
“He who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.”Psalm 121:3-5
Second, our God is big, and He is strong. He is more powerful than any storm we find ourselves in. He can stop the wind and waves at the time of His choosing–or He can sustain us through the storm with His loving presence.
Third, God loves us. He is not going to let anything happen to us that He doesn’t permit. In His love, He has a bigger purpose: to teach us faith, to help us know Him, to save us for a forever life with Him. Whatever doesn’t fit into that plan, He stops. Our lives are in His hands. We can trust Him. He loves us, and He is a big God.
Fear lies to us. It blows things out of proportion. It creates monsters in the dark. It makes us forget that Jesus is on board, that He loves us, and that His plans for us are perfect.
Please listen to this great song by Zach Williams, “Fear Is a Liar” by Zach Williams. Click on the title. You can skip YouTube ad after a few seconds by clicking on “skip ads.” Be blessed.