By Dr. Harold Sala
I will trust and not be afraid. Isaiah 12:2
During the difficult days of World War 2, Franklin Roosevelt sought to strengthen the resolve of the American people. In a radio message he said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself!” Roosevelt, however, wasn’t really original in what he said. George Sweeting points out that some eighty-two years earlier, Henry David Thoreau wrote in his journal, “Nothing is so much to be feared as fear,” and three centuries before that the French essayist Montaigne wrote, “The thing of which I have most fear is fear.”
The reality is that people have fought fear from the day that Adam and Eve were driven from the Garden. Some not only fight it but are overcome by fear and live as slaves to it. Some mental health professionals believe that fear is the greatest psychological threat which we face today.
The ultimate fear is not whether your beauty will fade, or you will run out of money before your time, or whether you will be laid off, fired at work. It is the fear of death–whether it be at the hands of an assailant, or you are the victim of a terrorist bombing, or you come down with a disease or illness for which there is no cure.
When my son Steve and two of his climbing buddies were scaling the face of El Capitan in Yosemite, one of his partners, Robert Nichols, faced a near tragedy. The gear holding him securely to the face of the rock became disengaged, and he plunged downward some forty feet, or the equivalent of four floors of a building. The valley below was more than 2700 feet below them. Finally, the rope which secured Robert, pulled taut, and the danger was ended.
When you are hanging on the face of a solid piece of rock, and it has taken you five days of torturous climbing to get to where you are, you don’t just hike back to the car and go home. You have little alternative but to go on, to go upward.
Was Robert fearful? Of course. Who wouldn’t be? But he didn’t quit. “I felt drained,” says Robert, adding “but repeating, ‘God is my strength and my shield’ managed to displace the fear and filled me with hope that we would safely reach our goal.” Speaking of the incident Steve said, “Fear is not something you overcome; it’s something you manage.”
Hebrews tells of those who don’t manage the fear of death. It speaks of those “who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death” (Hebrews 2:15). And is there hope for them? Or are they doomed to live with the gun under their pillow, with their prescriptions lining the counter, and their blinds drawn so no one will know if they are home?
There’s Good News! Hebrews says that in dying and rising from the dead the third day, Jesus Christ became the deliverer who frees them from the dark fear of death.
Why? He’s been there. He’s fought the battle, and He’s won! This means you will never be destroyed or defeated forever. It’s the attitude of Isaiah who cried out, “Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid” (Isaiah 12:2).
What you may not know is that you can trust God. You can take the hand of the Shepherd who has been through the valley and go on when you are troubled because He is stronger than anything you will ever face, and when He is your Lord, you can trust Him. A relationship with Jesus Christ is the ultimate solution to man’s greatest fear.
Resource reading: Hebrews 2:14-18.