Are you afraid of the future that 2018 holds for you?
I know I’ve not exactly been confident. 2017 has been a hard year, and it has not been ending as expectedly well as we had hoped. Instead of experiencing the multiple family Christmas celebrations like we planned, our entire family has been house-bound with a 72 hour flu – staggered across the entire week of my husband’s vacation. No, not exactly the “high” I wanted to end this year on.
And so, to be honest, its been hard for me not to look ahead at 2018 and wonder what other hardships await us…
There are so many ways that fear seeps into our world and our lives. Fear of the future; fear of the “worst-case” happening to us; fear of loss; even something as simple as a night-mare that keeps us up at night, from our finite brains being tricked into thinking that the world being taken over by spiders, or aliens, or whatever other monstrous identity your mind conspires, is worth losing sleep over.
Early on, we learn to accept fear. It is such a normal human development that experts have actually tracked it in childhood. Beyond separation anxiety, at age three, fear becomes ramped up in the form of being scared of the dark or scared of shadows, or scared of-you-name-it-they’re-afraid-of-it. It is something that we have to teach our children to address, and so, it becomes normal: it is normal to be afraid.
And yet at a deeper level, this is perhaps one of the greatest lies the Liar has ever spun. For if you stop and really think about it, what is the origin of fear?
Surely it all began in that Garden so long ago? The first moments of fear in the human heart? And what were they afraid of?
They were afraid of God. The God with whom they had just been talking with, walking with, enjoying life with. Now, they were afraid of Him.
And rightly so. He created them, after all. He is the most powerful being in the universe. And they had disobeyed His one request. But for a moment, they had denied His power and perfection, doubted His goodness, and stepped out on their own authority, to decide what was best for them.
And so entered fear into the hearts of mankind. And it wasn’t just anxious-fears. It wasn’t just worrying that God would actually follow through on His word that they would die if they disobeyed Him. It was a knowing-fear. Their God, whom they so loved, would punish them. They knew without a doubt He was right, and what He said would come true. And that thought terrified them into hiding, even though deep down they knew they could never hide from Him.
Here we see fear is always encompassed by disillusionment. Their fear of God’s punishment of their sin was right. But instead of pushing into the truthfulness of their fear, they recoiled back into the disillusionment that they could hide from Him — to the point of blaming each other for their wrong choices, instead of taking responsibility for their sin.
If we only we could see our fears for what they were: a fear of a God with whom we have disobeyed, a God who has rightly and graciously and more-times-than-we-can-ever-count warned us of the consequences of our sinful choices, and a God who is well-within-His-rights to enforce those consequences. This is His world, after all. And our sin that has brought such devastation upon it.
But instead our fears are warped into twisted lies: He doesn’t care; He doesn’t exist; He won’t notice. Fear of losing someone you love? The accompanying lie is: He doesn’t care. Fear of losing your home, your financial security, your comfort? The accompanying lie is: He is not in charge. Fear of never having your desires fulfilled? The accompanying lie is: He doesn’t want you to be happy.
At its bare root, our fear is a fear of God’s rightful and just wrath against our sinfulness. A sinfulness we were born with, yet continue in as easy as breathing because we are so entrenched and enslaved to it. At its core, our fears are a fear of being ultimately and completely separated from the One Source of all that is good and beautiful and right.
What is our hope in such a dire condition?
Well, it is Jesus of course. If our fears stem from being afraid of separation from God – something actually worth fearing – then our fears, all of them, are absolved in the greatest act of salvation mankind has ever known.
In Jesus, our sin problem disappears. In its place, we have perfect peace with God – an eternal guaranteed peace with God. That one act of God’s wrath poured out on His perfect, sinless Son, covers all our sins, past, present, and future. And we have nothing – absolutely nothing – left to fear. God’s love is covenanted to us. Guaranteed. Nothing, absolutely nothing, can now separate us from His love. We never have to be afraid of being separated from Him again.
So how do we face our fears?
With this truth: that our fears, at their core, are rooted in a fear of a God whose wrath is worth fearing; and that we don’t have to be afraid anymore, if we believe in Christ, who bore that wrath on our behalf.
There is no greater confidence in the world we can have than this.
“…that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies” namely, sin and its resulting separation from God, “ might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days…” and so Zechariah said as He praised God for the promised birth of the Savior Jesus. And he said, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited us and redeemed His people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for us…as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old…” taken from Luke 1:68-75.