I struggle with fear and worry. Every day I wonder and worry about someone I love dying. About the new over-forty-year-old body ache that surely signifies cancer or some other dread disease. About a blizzard or tornado, depending on the season. Every time I fly I imagine that I could crash. Every time my husband drives I imagine he could crash. And, all these things could happen.
Tuesday I was reading in the Bible about the time when the disciples were in a boat with Jesus:
Jesus asks the disciples why they are afraid. I would think it would be obvious: They're in a boat, it's storming, and the boat is being swamped. Which means, to me, that if I were there I would be afraid that the boat is going to sink. Plus, Jesus, the one Whom they look to for help was asleep. Then Jesus tells them they don't have much faith. In the same account as told in Luke 8, verse 25 reports that Jesus asks them, "Where is your faith?" I've been thinking about that question for the past few days.
It seems as if Jesus is saying that if they had faith, they wouldn't fear. Even with the waves crashing, even with the water threatening to sink the boat, they should not be afraid. Why? I went on a search through the New Testament to find the people who were commended for their faith. On the list were the Roman Centurion whose daughter is healed, the friends of the paralyzed man who lowered him through the roof to see Jesus, the bleeding woman who touched Jesus' hem, the Canaanite woman who sought healing for her daughter, the blind beggar who cries out to Jesus, and the tenth leper who returns to give thanks. Each of these were people I found who had direct dealings with Jesus.
What did they have in common? They sought out Jesus and believed that He could help them. Yet, so did the disciples. The disciples also went to Jesus and asked Him for help. I wonder if (as it always is) it was a difference in what was in each person's heart. Did the disciples really believe that Jesus could help them? Were they annoyed with him for being asleep? Did they truly believe (as they soon learned) that Jesus could still the very winds and waves that were threatening to capsize them? Where had they placed their faith?
How much better would my life be if I weren't fearful and worried, especially over things that haven't even happened? Why can I choose not to fear? Over and over I return to the basic elements of Christianity. I can choose not to fear because Jesus is with me. Nothing that I will face, should my worst imaginings come to pass, will be bigger than God's power and grace. I need to put my faith, my confidence, and my assurance in the person of Jesus--the Jesus who stilled those waves, healed those people, and rose victorious from that grave.
Hebrews 2: 14-15 says this:
Look at that last phrase again: "...those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery." I have been a slave to the fear of death. I do not have to be. Through Jesus' resurrection, I have been set free from this fear. I will be with Jesus when I die. The people I love who follow and believe Jesus, I will see again in eternity. I don't need to be enslaved. I am not enslaved.
The Message paraphrase of Hebrews 2:14-15 puts it like this:
Since the children are made of flesh and blood, it’s logical that the Savior took on flesh and blood in order to rescue them by his death. By embracing death, taking it into himself, he destroyed the Devil’s hold on death and freed all who cower through life, scared to death of death.I no longer need to be scared to death of death. I no longer need to fear. Come what may, Jesus is in the boat with me. I pray that God will show me how to find my faith and abandon fear.