By Rose Leigh
“Be not afraid.” This Bible verse is often quoted as a feel-good inspirational message. Be not afraid… be who God made you to be! God has a plan! Be fearless! etc. The verse can start to feel cliché, and we don’t stop to think about what it means.
What are you afraid of? What is the thing in your life that makes you so afraid that you aren’t happy, the family drama that you worry about all the time, or the world issue that seems apocalyptic in magnitude?
It’s hard to avoid fear and worry. But the command “be not afraid” (and variations thereof) comes up again and again in the Bible. Angels frequently tell people not to fear, which implies that when humans encounter a heavenly messenger, a common response is a minor heart attack. In addition, God and His prophets in the Old Testament frequently tell the Israelites there is no need to fear powerful rulers or enemy nations. Jesus also says it multiple times to His disciples.
Right now, a great number of people are afraid of many different political and social problems. Guess what? Throughout all of human history, people have faced situations that were similarly dangerous and terrible. Just a brief look through the Bible reveals a great deal of suffering by God’s chosen people. The Israelites were enslaved in Egypt for generations, and the Babylonian Exile later forced the Israelites into another foreign land. There are grisly stories in Second Maccabees about Israelites being tortured and killed for keeping to the Mosaic Law. The Book of Esther is about a woman who prevents a court official’s plan to slaughter the kingdom’s Israelite population. We could make a huge list of the many scary, brutal things to be afraid of in ancient times.
After the time of Jesus, the persecutions of Christians have been numerous in every age, up to and including today. There are also plenty of other dangers to our world and society that we hear about every day on the news.
God knows how broken our world is. He knows all of the terrible, painful events that have happened and will happen in this world. He knows how prone we are to worrying about little and large sufferings and tragedies.
Yet, in love, God keeps telling us not to be afraid. He means it when everything seems bleakest—in the darkest moments and situations that people are facing right now and in the past and into the future. Whatever you see as the biggest problem in the world—He knows about it. Don’t be afraid of it. Don’t let it steal your joy or your faith.
Because through Jesus’ sacrifice, the grave has no power over us. And things in this world that have no power beyond the grave are not to be feared (Matthew 10:28). No evil, no persecution, no earthly power can prevent us from seeking God, or Him from seeking us. What we do on Earth matters, but all earthly things and worries will pass away. This verse isn’t some touchy-feely affirmation. It’s the reality of our Faith.
So, that thing you’re afraid of? Take it to prayer. Tell God about your worry, and offer it to Him. Whatever it is, with God there is nothing to fear.
Rose has been drawing and writing since she could hold a pencil, creating worlds of giants, fairies, and adventurers from her imagination. She works as a graphic designer and loves discussing the good and creative aspects of literature, art, and film.