The Fear that Makes Us Brave

As I processed a phobia of mine last week, I discovered the truth about a fear that makes us brave.

I am terrified of heights. 

I don’t know if I was plagued with temporary amnesia or had hoped I’d overcome the phobia when I recently ascended a ladder to hang a collaborative sculpture my art students created. But it didn’t take me long to realize the error of my ways. One step had my hands feeling clammy and the second had my heart racing. By the third my legs were far too unsteady to reach reliably to the ceiling for the tying and raising. 

Clinging to the ladder for dear life and loosing any semblance of my pride, I confessed my fears to a friend. 

But then I remembered a recent ski trip with my family where I sat confidently perched high above the slopes on the chair lift. And I was shocked by my lack of fear. I half jokingly said, “Maybe I was more afraid of getting off the lift than being up high.” 

That fear was warranted.

On the previous trip, the bottom of my coat got caught on the slat of the bench seat as I was exiting the lift. Right in front of the lodge. I heard the collective gasp as my awkward exit became apparent to onlookers. As the lift halted, I went down hard and needed help up. But I drew the line at having the attendant call for Ski Patrol. He freed me from my skis and I hobbled to the closest table, deeply humbled. I don’t know what hurt more, my knee or my pride. It took a  while to recover from the pain and shock. But I knew I needed to get back out there, if only to prove to my boys that when we fall down, we get back up again.  

But it’s true, some fears trump others. On the next run, my focus on the problem ahead distracted me from the problem at hand. My fear of falling off as I exited the lift was greater than my fear of falling off while riding.

And there is one fear that trumps them all: the fear of the Lord. 

The fear of the Lord comes from having a right understanding of who He is and who we are in relationship to Him. He is gracious and merciful to the point of sending His Son Jesus to die on a cross for our sins so that He could have us for His own. Not only is He all-knowing and all-powerful, but He is also loving and kind beyond our comprehension. He will return to judge the living and the dead according to His standards of righteousness. God is jealous for His people and will exact vengeance and wrath on those who refuse His mercy. But He is also the author and perfector of peace. He is Creator of all we experience with our five senses here on earth and Provider of all we need for life in this world and the next. Prophet, Priest, and King of Kings. He was from before the beginning of the world, is now, and will be forever. His promises never fail.

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A proper fear of the Lord prepares us to face the problems and fears of this world.

Because the fear of the Lord:

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*brings wisdom, knowledge, and understanding (Psalm 111:10)

*makes us humble (Proverbs 15:33)

*gives us a desire for God’s discipline and training (Proverbs 1:7)

*prolongs our lives (Proverbs 10:27)

*promotes peaceful sleep (Proverbs 19:23)

*makes us brave and gives us a place of refuge (Proverbs 14:26)

*blesses us (Proverbs 128:1)

*helps us avoid evil (Proverbs 8:13)

*gives us a confident hope (Job 4:6)

*brings us satisfaction (Proverbs 15:16)

But most of all, understanding God’s perfect love for us increases our awe and respect for Him while decreasing our fears and terrors in this world.

This is not to say that we will be free from trouble this side of heaven. That is a naive and dangerous claim.

People will disappoint, misunderstand, and slander us. Some will potentially demean and maybe even hate us. Political shenanigans, power struggles and possibly persecution.Heartache and grief will plague us. Irresponsible decisions will damage our livelihoods. Illness and injustice may cripple us. Unexpected trauma will knock us to our knees. We may even catch glimpses of the battle that rages in the heavenly realms.

But fear of the evil we face here doesn’t have to freeze us, because Jesus has overcome it and we are His.

So, today if you find yourself excessively pondering and planning for the problems of this world, I urge you to adjust your perspective. What we see is temporary. God is eternal.

The fears of this world fade when we fear the Lord.

Looking past our present problems to God’s eternal promises perfects our perspective, promotes, peace, provides purpose, and prepares us to face whatever life in this world throws our way. No earthly problem can do eternal harm when we fear the Lord. That’s the fear that makes us brave.

“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, fear him who can destroy both the body and soul in hell.”

Matthew 10:28

For more on this topic see these great posts:

Prepare for 2021

5 Reassuring Verses for When You Worry about the Future

Do they Smell Fear or Faith on You?

The Fear That Makes Us Brave

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