Why Are We Afraid?

Written by: Max Lucado

I don't like fear - tried it, it didn't work for me. Fear you may look pretty big, pretty formidable - But you don't stand a chance against my God... My Lord said to us... “not be afraid” - “not fear” - “have courage” - “take heart” - “be of good cheer.” Lord I stand on your promises and Word.. >>This is a bit Long - But it is well worth the READ<<
Ben Andrews

Adapted from Fearless: Imagine Your Life Without Fear by Max Lucado. (Thomas Nelson) Get your copy now by supporting Rescue LIFE.

You would have liked my brother, Dee. He made friends the way bakers make bread: daily, easily, warmly. I, the shy younger brother, relied on him to make introductions for us both. When a family moved onto the street or a newcomer walked onto the playground, Dee was the ambassador.
But in his midteen years, he made one acquaintance he should have avoided – a bootlegger who would sell beer to underage drinkers. Over the next four decades my brother drank away health, relationships, jobs, money, and all but the last two years of his life.
At the age of fifty-four my brother emptied his bottles, stabilized his marriage, reached out to his children, and exchanged the liquor store for the local AA. But the hard living had taken its toll. Three decades of three-packs-a-day smoking has turned his big heart into ground meat.
On a January night, he told Donna, his wife, that he couldn’t breathe well. He already had a doctor’s appointment for a related concern, so he decided to try to sleep. He awoke at 4:00 a.m. with chest pains severe enough to warrant a call to the emergency room. The rescue team loaded Dee onto the gurney and told Donna to meet them at the hospital. My brother waved weakly and smiled bravely and told Donna not to worry, but by the time she and one of Dee’s sons reached the hospital, he was gone.
The attending physician told them the news and invited them to step into the room where Dee’s body lay. Holding each other, they walked through the doors and saw his final message. His hand was resting on the top of his thigh with the two center fingers folded in and the thumb extended, the universal sign-language symbol for “I love you.”
I’ve tried to envision the final moments of my brother’s earthly life: racing down a Texas highway in an ambulance through an inky night. Struggling for each breath, at some point he realized only a few remained. But rather than panic, he quarried some courage.
Perhaps you could use some. An ambulance isn’t the only ride that demands valor. You may not be down to your final heartbeat, but you may be down to your last paycheck, solution, or thimble of faith.
Fear, it seems, has taken a hundred-year lease on the building next door and set up shop. Oversize and rude, fear is unwilling to share the heart with happiness. Happiness complies and leaves. Can one be happy and afraid at the same time? Clear-thinking and afraid? Confident and afraid? Merciful and afraid? For all the noise fear makes and room it takes, fear does little good.
Fear never wrote a symphony or poem, negotiated a peace treaty, or cured a disease. Fear never pulled a family out of poverty or a country out of bigotry. Fear never saved a marriage or a business. Courage did that. Faith did that.
What if faith, not fear, was your default reaction to threats? Envision a day, just one day, absent the dread of failure, rejection, and calamity. Can you imagine a life with no fear? This is the possibility behind Jesus’ question.
“Why are you afraid?” he asks. (Matt 8:26, NCV)
At first we wonder if Jesus is serious. He may be kidding, like one swimmer asking another, “Why are you wet?” But Jesus is dead earnest. So are the men to whom he asks the question. A storm has turned their Galilean dinner cruise into a white-knuckled plunge.
Here is how one of them remembers the trip: “Jesus got into a boat, and his followers went with him. A great storm arose on the lake so that the waves covered the boat.” (Matthew 8:23-24, NCV)
Matthew remembered well the pouncing tempest and bouncing boat and was careful in his terminology. He hunted for a descriptor that exploded like the waves across the bow.
Seismos – a quake, a trembling eruption of sea and sky. “A great seismos arose on the lake.”
The term still occupies a spot in our vernacular. A
seismologist studies earthquakes, a seismograph measures them, and Matthew, along with a crew of recent recruits, felt a seismos that shook them to the core. He used the word on only two other occasions: once at Jesus’ death when Calvary shook (Matt 27:51-54) and again at Jesus’ resurrection when the graveyard tremored. (Matt 28:2) Apparently, the stilled storm shares equal billing in the trilogy of Jesus’ great shake-ups: defeating sin on the cross, death at the tomb, and here silencing fear on the sea.
This story sends the not-so-subtle and not-too-popular reminder: getting on board with Christ can mean getting soaked with Christ. Disciples can expect rough seas and stout winds. (John 16:33)
It’s not the absence of storms that sets us apart. It’s whom we discover in the storm: an unstirred Christ.
“Jesus was sleeping…” (Matt 8:24)
The disciples scream; Jesus dreams. Thunder roars; Jesus snores. Could you snooze during a roller coaster loop-the-loop? In a wind tunnel? At a kettledrum concert? Jesus sleeps through all three at once!
His snooze troubles the disciples. Matthew and Mark record their responses as three staccato Greek pronouncements and one question.
The pronouncements: “Lord! Save! Dying!” (Matt 8:25)
The question: “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” (Mark 4:38)
They do not ask about Jesus’ strength: “Can you still the storm?” His knowledge: “Are you aware of the storm?” Or his know-how: “Do you have any experience with storms?” But rather, they raise doubts about Jesus’ character: “Do you not care…”
Fear corrodes our confidence in God’s goodness. We begin to wonder if love lives in heaven. If God can sleep in our storms, if his eyes stay shut when our eyes grow wide, if he permits storms after we get on his boat, does he care? Fear unleashes a swarm of doubts.
It also deadens our recall. The disciples had reason to trust Jesus. By now they’d seen him “healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people.” (Matt 4:23) They had witnessed him heal a leper with a touch and a servant with a command. (Matt 8:3, 13) Peter saw his sick mother-in-law recover (Matt 8:14-15) and they all saw demons scatter like bats out of a cave. “He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick.” (Matt 8:16)
The Gospels list some 125 Christ-issued imperatives. Of these, 21 urge us to “not be afraid” or “not fear” or “have courage” or “take heart” or “be of good cheer.” The second most common command, to love God and neighbor, appears on only eight occasions. If quantity is any indicator, Jesus takes our fears seriously. The one statement he made more than any other was this: don’t be afraid.
Jesus wakes from his nap, steps into the storm, and asks, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” (Matt 8:26)
“Then Jesus got up and gave a command to the wind and the waves, and it became completely calm.” (Matt 8:26, NCV)
Fear may fill our world, but it doesn’t have to fill our hearts. Let’s embolden our hearts with a select number of Jesus’ “do not fear” statements. The promise of Christ is simple: we can fear less tomorrow than we do today.