“Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” Revelation 1:17-18
On one of the hottest days in the year, we found ourselves babysitting an energetic Audie at her home. She had tired of “quiet” activities and, after finding her umbrella, wanted to go for a walk, reasoning that it wasn’t too hot to go out as her umbrella could “save her head from the sun”!
Before long we were enthusiastically exploring every inch of the neighbourhood, until her gaze fell on a wall ahead where the lengthening shadow of a telephone pole loomed like a distorted scarecrow. She shrank back, saying, “That’s scary!” Understanding why she’d found it creepy, we took great pains to explain it, showing her how the shadow couldn’t hurt her, and even changed it, using her umbrella, to demonstrate this.
Fear grips us all at some time, and needs to be recognised for what it is: something that has its roots in the unknown which needs to be challenged before it can grow out of proportion – like the intimidating, but powerless, shadow to a vulnerable child. Sometimes the Enemy uses a threat, whether real or perceived, to attack us and rob us of our peace when we should be calmly trusting God, or sleeping – if the fear has awoken us.
In any situation, we need to remember God is with us: we can call Him because He loves us and will willingly meet our need. The comforting words, “fear not” appear 365 times (https://believersportal.com/list-365-fear-not-bible-verses/) in the Bible and are spoken to encourage people throughout it to look trustingly to God in each challenging situation, from Abram, in Genesis, to John, in Revelation. When pursued by his enemies, David could write, “When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?” (Psalm 56:3-4)
When an army had surrounded Israel, Elisha was able to encourage his fearful servant with, “Don’t be afraid,” …” Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And (he) prayed,” O Lord open his eyes so he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” (2 Kings 6:16-17)
In today’s verse, Jesus encouraged John with, “Do not be afraid” when he “fell at his feet as though dead” when he saw the vision of Him in His glory. Jesus’ words put fear into perspective because they show that there is no power greater than Him. He has been there from the beginning and will live forever; He “hold(s) the keys of death and Hades”. In Matthew 10:28 He told the disciples: “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” But He also assured them, “Even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid…” (Matthew 10:30-31)
Jesus is the answer to all our fear. When fear threatens to paralyse our mind, let us call out to Him in faith that He may come in the power of the Spirit and give us comfort we need through His Word. He is there, so let us “cast all (our) anxiety on him because he cares for (us).” (1 Peter 5:7)