I have two boys who are afraid of assorted things: dentists, dark rooms, green peas. Our most recent bout surfaced when our first-grader refused to walk into his classroom by himself. When he balked, I was tempted to point out a kindergarten girl happily strolling into her class alone. I considered sitting him down for a rational conversation with reasons why his fears were foolish
Thankfully, I resisted, recognizing Wyatt didn’t need logic or tips. He certainly didn’t need shame. Wyatt just needed me to hold his hand and walk with him.
Isaac, one of Israel’s forefathers, had many reasons to fear. Having no home, he had to scratch out an existence in a strange land. When Isaac arrived in Gerar, he lied to Abimelech the king, saying his beautiful wife Rebekah was his sister because he “was afraid someone would kill me to get her from me” (Genesis 26:9).
Years later, after Isaac had finally pieced together a life, Abimelech demanded he leave the land. Where would he go? How would he start over—again?
Packing up, his brood bounced from spot to spot, forced out by conflict and resistance each time. Would his family ever have a future? The gloom hung heavy, fear rampant.
Then God spoke. “I am the God of your father, Abraham . . . Do not be afraid, for I am with you” (v.24). God spoke against Isaac’s fear, not by cataloging all the reasons fear was unnecessary or by instructing him in how to think more positively. God spoke against fear by giving Himself, His name, His presence.
In the incarnation, God did this for all humanity (Matthew 1:23). Jesus entered our world of fear and sin. Our fears require a God larger than them, a God who will come and be with us. Jesus is that reality.
The waves may toss and roar, but they can never pass the boundaries [God has] set (Jeremiah 5:22).
What is your deepest fear? How does God’s presence reorient your fear?