“From goulies and ghosties and long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night
Good Lord, deliver us!”
Scottish prayer recorded in The Cornish and West Country Litany, 1926
Nightmare by Paul Bielaczyc. Charcoal, 2005.
There was my dentist—a normally genteel man—in the back of a military cargo plane decked in an olive-drab Level A HAZMAT suit, gesturing me into his examination chair with long, gleaming, barbaric surgical instruments. I had a hard time making out what he was saying behind his face shield, but it sounded like, “Buckle up.” I’m pretty sure he was grinning.
I’m not one much for dreaming, nor am I particularly anxious, but it’s amazing what the anticipation of a minor dental procedure did to loose my subconscious this week.
Fear is powerful, and the Bible has a lot to say about it. The words fear, afraid, anxious, and anxiety appear 541 times in the ESV.
- The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; (Proverbs 1:7)
- Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. (Proverbs 3:7)
- “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on.” (Matthew 6:25)
- He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” (Mark 4:40)
- And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” (Matthew 8:26)
Need an anti-anxiety prescription? Here you go: fear in the right channel is prescribed—throughout Proverbs and the rest of the Bible. The apostle Paul instructs believers in Philippians 2 to, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” We’re not supposed to be free from fear. We’re supposed to live with fear in the right context—reverence and respect for the awesome power of our Creator. That’s what Dick Woodward’s 4 Spiritual Secrets are all about.
Ready for some good news? According to Jesus, fear has an anecdote: faith.
Fear is powerful. My loving mother, who hung that Scottish prayer just outside my bedroom door, was paralyzed by fear her entire life. So many times I wished I could have helped her think through her fear. But that’s not the way it works. Overcoming fear is not a matter of our intellect or will—it’s a matter of the heart. And no one gets out alive. Apart from the grace of God and a little faith we don’t stand a chance.
Here’s a link to Whom Shall I Fear? by Chris Tomlin that gets to the heart of the matter.
HT: Paul Bielaczyc (Nightmare used with the kind permission of the artist.)