Living in Fear
God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7
I’m not afraid of the usual snakes and spiders. Rather, I’m afraid of horses – and maybe cows. I’ve got my reasons, but my family makes fun of me a little for what they see as an unreasonable phobia. Fortunately, in my daily life, I don’t run into a lot of cows and horses. Yes, I see them as I drive by in the country, but from the safety of my car they don’t cause me a lot of angst. So this fear isn’t something I wrestle with daily.
There are those of you however, who do live with very real and terrifying circumstances, of which it’s not unreasonable to fear. We all have family and friends who’ve been diagnosed with cancer, causing them to feel very uncertain about their future. When faced with a life-threatening illness, it would be unusual not to experience fear.
I’ve seen it done though. When my mother-in-law (about whom I’ve previously written with her permission) discovered she had a potentially fatal cancer, she declared that she’d be fine either way. If she lived, she got to remain here on Earth with her family. If she died, she got to go live with Jesus. She faced her cancer with very little fear because of her faith, which transcended death. I’m not sure I’m there yet, but her strength was an example of what I hope for someday when it’s my turn.
In today’s passage, Paul told Timothy that God gave us a spirit, not of fear, but of power. Paul himself was imprisoned, facing imminent death, so he was qualified to speak of fear. Despite circumstances that would terrify us, Paul continued his life mission of spreading the gospel. He looked at the trials of life, and even death, knowing that his faith surpassed all those things. There was nothing the world could throw at him that could change his eternal destiny or rob him of his joy and peace in God. That is power over fear.
How do we get there? I don’t believe it’s as simple as just deciding that we’re not afraid. The strength that God gives is experienced when we live in his will. We don’t get to live for ourselves every day and then expect that God will pour out his Spirit in our lives. No, we are filled with God’s Spirit when we invest in our relationship with him, abandoning our way for his. If we desire to know the blessing of a relationship with God, then daily, we must pursue that relationship. Faith can transcend our fear, but to get there, we must daily invest in our faith.