“After these things, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am Your shield, Your exceedingly great reward.’” Genesis 15:1 NKJV
Fear has gotten a lot of bad press in Christian circles. I hear myself repeating the mantras, “The Bible says, ‘Fear not’ and ‘Do not be afraid’…so, DON’T!” I consistently find myself representing fear in a negative light. But is it always bad?
The emotion of fear can afford protection as in the case of fight-or-flight responses. During events that represent a very real threat to life or limb, fear is a survival mechanism. It tells us when to run from danger. It tells us when to proceed with caution. This is real fear.
I’m beginning to understand that false fear is the real culprit! False fear fails to motivate us toward good decisions if we are not careful to recognize it.
Take Abram for example. Here is a man chosen by God. Told directly by God to leave everything he knew behind and seek out a promised land and in return, God would bless Abram and make of him a great name and nation so that Abram would be a blessing. And so, Abram packed up his household and left for the unknown (Genesis 12:1-5 NKJV). There is literally no evidence of fear in Abram’s countenance or actions. He heard; he listened; he obeyed without question. Wow! God made a promise and Abram believed Him.
Enter: false fear!
The adventure continues and God protects Abram and his household. They trek over mountains, through pasture lands, and enter foreign lands, yet no evil befalls them. So why then does Abram take to deception and lying when he comes to Egypt? Why would he seek to deceive Pharaoh by calling Sarai his sister instead of his wife? Perhaps there had been stories of men being killed so that their wives could be taken. At a minimum, he feared starvation in the midst of the famine. But Abram had the direct promise of God. He was living proof of God’s protection in light of the promise. Still, he took matters into his own hands and practiced to deceive! Why? False fear. Abram feared man more than he believed in God’s protection.
Uh oh! I can see a bit of me in this! Times when I am tempted to tell a “little white lie” because I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. Or I don’t really want to do what I am being asked – instead of simply saying, “No. Thank You.” I somehow feel like I have to justify and explain. This feeling…false fear.
But God. He protects me anyway, just as He protected both Abram and Sarai. I imagine God watching; shaking His head. Oh Abram…what a mess! And poor Pharaoh! God had to clean up Abram’s mess while Pharaoh was caught in the crossfire. He and his house suffered great plagues because of Abram’s lie. The unintended consequences of this “little white lie”. (Genesis 12:17-19)
And still. Despite Abram’s succumbing to false fear, God kept his end of the deal. God provided richly for the household of Abram. He made Abram to be, “…very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold.” (Genesis 13:2). He provided the essentials of food and finances every step of the way.
I don’t know about You, but I’m a little disappointed in Abram right now! Like, seriously. God made you promises and consistently delivered on them – why Abram? Why did you falter?
How easy it is for me to sit in my carefully constructed judgement seat. Am I so strong and fearless in the face of resistance even though I know God has promised good for me? Plans to prosper me and give me a future and hope (Jeremiah 29:11). Nope! I too succumb to false fear. I bow to the “what if” and the “why me”. When faced with knowing that the money in the bank and the food in the fridge would certainly not outlast the days in the month; God faithfully provided and protected despite my certainty of doom.
Just like He did for Abram and Sarai, God continues to persevere in his protection even when His people are resolved to stray from His direction. He knows we will fear and even uses our false fear as a signal. An indicator to pay attention and seek His truth in our situation.
Oh, that I will persevere in recognition, repentance, and restoration like Abram! You see, God took Abram from Egypt to Canaan by having him pass between Bethel and Ai – the place where Abram first built the altar where he called on the name of the LORD (Genesis 12:8). What a beautiful reminder to Abram: “…Do not fear, Abram. I am Your shield, Your exceedingly great reward.” (15:1).
LORD. You are the amazing and mighty promise-keeper; protector of our souls. As believers we are sinners. Saved only by Your grace to give us faith in You. I pray that our fear is always kept in right perspective. That it returns us to the true altar first made in our hearts at salvation. Your people need wisdom to discern fear rightly. Please LORD, forgive us for our false fears and help us have a reverent fear of You and You alone. Thank You for being our reward and for always providing a way of perseverance and right perspective.
A time for reflection:
What are God’s promises for His people? Look up the following Scripture to help):
- Galatians 4:7. What does this tell you about your place in God’s family?
- 2 Corinthians 1:20. What does this tell you about the fulfillment of God’s promises (you may want to look at the verses before and after this to help with your answer)?
- Numbers 6:24-26. With what does God bless His people? How can you hold fast to this peace?
- Zephaniah 3:17. How does God view His people? Are you resting in this truth?
- 2 Corinthians 1;3-4. What is the proper response to the blessing of God’s comfort in our affliction?
Friends, I pray that you know the inheritance you have as heirs to God’s throne room. I pray that you know that God’s promises find their fulfillment in Christ and our plans always shift to align with His. May you look to His promises as your peace in times of fear-filled doubt; God rejoices over you – be quieted by his love. I pray that as He comforts through affliction, we choose to bless the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.
Be blessed and be a blessing!