Fears crop up from time to time. They coexist right alongside my faith, like tares among the wheat (Matthew 13:30).
My faith and my fears are not friends, you understand, nor are they unknown to one another. They have fairly well existed alongside one another from the beginning, so they are well-acquainted, in the sense that competitors on the gridiron who do battle in repeated contests come to know one another intimately.
I identify with the fellow who, when told that all things are possible if he could believe, answered, “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24).
What do I fear? Let me count the ways. (I do this knowing full well that fears love to be given room and attention and energies, all of which serve to feed this cancer, causing it to mushroom.)
- I fear the usual things: lingering sickness that would incapacitate me, end my preaching ministry and make me dependent; economic collapse of this country and our nation’s drift farther and farther from God.
Then again, maybe these are not so much “fears” as concerns. None keep me up at night, but when they appear, I give them to the Lord and go on with my day.
- I fear for my children and particularly for my grandchildren. What kind of world will my generation leave them? Will they marry wisely and live well, or will they act foolishly and start on a downward spiral into pain and heartache? Will they serve God or go the way of the world? I pray for them daily.
- I fear the same thing the apostle Paul did, that I might mess up and end poorly (1 Corinthians 9:27). It’s always a possibility for flawed humans like us – one that keeps us alert and on our knees.
- And, the big one. What I fear most and most often. I sometimes think, “What if none of this is true?”
What if the science-worshipers are correct and we are a fortunate accident in a meaningless universe and that oblivion follows death?
What if there is no God? What if we have been deceived and then have deceived others? What if we are on our own here? What if the dead in Christ are simply dead, if after this life there awaits an eternity of nothingness?
For that to be the case, it would mean that the Bible is a hoax and Jesus Christ a scam and that the godliest, sanest people on earth through the centuries have been fooled.
And that’s a big “if,” one which my reason – and especially my faith – rejects as implausible. It all comes down to a faith decision. That is not to say, as the world’s naysayers want to twist it, that to vote for God and Jesus and the integrity of the Holy Scriptures is to act on blind faith.
Blind faith means believing something for which there is no evidence. Blind faith means taking Jim Jones and Joseph Smith and a lot of other charlatans on their word and then betting my life on them.
I prefer to stand on solid rocks, to build on firm foundations, to believe only that for which the evidence is overwhelming.
The evidence for God is amazing and all around us every moment of every day. The evidence for Jesus Christ is historical, archaeological, logical and personal. The evidence for the integrity and trustworthiness of Holy Scripture is as good as one could ever ask for.
Perhaps the most reliable evidence for these is the way the scripture’s presentation of God the Father and Christ the Savior is so solid throughout, with the most intricate insights and truths embedded, which, when believed, result in beautiful, transformed lives.
The best evidence for all of this is that when people truly come to know Jesus Christ they become sane. They become their best selves. They are restored to their homes and able to do their best work.
Want an example of that? Look at the crazy fellow of Mark 5. Before Jesus, he was an outcast, a mental and emotional wreck, beset with demons, estranged from his family, and self-destructive. Sound like anyone you know? After Jesus touched him, the man was quiet, sane and restored to his family (verse 19). That’s what turning to Christ does!
When people meet Jesus, they get in harmony with the universe. Such a statement is possible since that same Lord Jesus is Lord of the universe. It’s His, and harmony, sanity and wholeness are always present in those who know Him.
“Then they came to Jesus and saw the one who had been demon-possessed and had the legion (of devils), sitting and clothed and in his right mind” (Mark 5:15).
The constant question for all of us – myself included – then becomes: “Why did you fear? Where is your faith?” (Mark 4:40).
Paul expressed it like this: “O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory? Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” (1 Corinthians 15:55, 57).
No fear allowed, Christ-follower.
“Though a host encamps against me, my heart shall not fear” (Psalm 27:3).
“I would have despaired had I not believed I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” (Psalm 27:13).
There is no antidote to fear like God’s Word.
“Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God. For I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God” (Psalm 42:5, 11 and 43:5).
And this one: “I know that my Redeemer liveth, and at last He shall stand upon the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know – that in my flesh I shall see God, Whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another” (Job 19:25-27).
Get back in your hole, fear. The Lord has dealt bountifully with me!
I choose to trust the Lord. I delight in trusting in the Lord Jesus. I gladly stake it all on Him. You too?
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Joe McKeever, joemckeever.com, pastored six Southern Baptist churches in a 42-year career. He writes a column on “My Favorite Deacon” for each issue of Lifeway’s Deacon Magazine.)