I would wager to say that fear is a major force in all of our lives. We fear so much — death, rejection, poverty, mistakes, pain, humiliation, betrayal, the future — that it locks us down into a pattern of worry, of hesitation, and of a narrow routine. Fear can dominate our life’s headlines, with each tragedy (large or small) confirming what we already know. It’s a broken world, we are broken people, and something bad is always on the way.
I am tired of being afraid. I know that one of my weaknesses is timidity and fear, as I spend too much time scared that I will mess up my life, hurt my family somehow, or die before I raise my kids to adulthood.
What’s amazing to me is that God knows that fear is a potent result of sin, and He goes out of His way to encourage us past this fear and give us real hope to replace it. When Jesus came to Jairus’ house to minister to his daughter who just died, Jesus issues to commands to this grieving, scared father: “Don’t be afraid; only believe.” (Mark 5:36). As he raises the 12-year-old girl from the dead, he illustrates that we can trade in that potent fear for something new: faith in the one greater than anything we might fear.
It’s easy to stop being afraid when you have someone with you who can help you through it and even demolish the thing you’re scared of, right? But what do we do now that Jesus has returned to heaven?
Fortunately, we have something just as good — or someONE just as good — as Jesus at our side. Believers are gifted with the Holy Spirit who is always present and always willing to live up to its name as a Helper.
That’s why I’ve always loved 2 Timothy 1:7, which echoes Mark 5:36 when it tells us that we’re trading in something old, broken, and hurtful (our fear) for something wonderful and victorious (the Spirit).
“For God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power, of love, and of self-control.”
We get three in exchange for one, I say that’s a good deal!
It’s a good reminder that as the redeemed, we are no longer alone in our life’s journey, but are filled with the Holy Spirit who isn’t there to make us quake and worry. Instead, God highlights three benefits of being Spirit-led: We have the power of God with us, we are conduits of God’s love, and we have the means to gain control over the sinful nature that used to enslave us.
It’s important to note that this verse comes within the context of a passage discussing how we may testify to the world about the gospel. I like how in verse 14, God reminds us to “guard the good deposit in you” — a reminder that He has sealed us in salvation and that we do not have any reason to ever fear being taken away from Him ever again.
In accepting the gift of grace, I’ve traded up from fear to boldness. I just need to remember that more often.