Words—and actions—that drive out fear

Mark G. Schroeder

What are you afraid of?

I’m not talking about the kind of fear that comes suddenly with an approaching severe thunderstorm. Not the kind of fear that grips you in an instant when it feels like you are skidding on an icy winter highway. Not the kind of panicked fear you experience when you realize your little child has wandered away from you in a busy crowd.

The fear I am asking about is the ongoing, relentless fear that takes hold of you over time and doesn’t seem to let go. It’s the kind of fear that lurks in your consciousness when your company is downsizing and you wonder whether you will still have a job next week. It’s the kind of fear that settles into your thinking when you hear about increasing terror attacks—not somewhere across the world but right where you live. It’s the kind of fear that comes when you look at the direction in which society is heading and you wonder what kind of world your children will inherit. It’s the kind of fear that gnaws at you when you know that you have a family history of cancer or heart disease or Alzheimer’s and you are convinced that you will be an inevitable victim of that disease. It’s the kind of fear that creeps up on you in the quiet night, the fear that comes from knowing that you are a sinner and that someday, sooner or later, you will face the deadly wages of that sin.

You could, no doubt, add your own fears to that list. But just as those fears threaten to overwhelm us and drive us to despair and hopelessness, we hear some of the sweetest words ever spoken. They were words spoken more than once on the first Easter Sunday. When the women arrived at the tomb of Jesus, an angel appeared to them and said, “Do not be afraid!” A little later, the risen Jesus himself met the women, and he delivered the very same message: “Do not be afraid!”

These were not just empty words. These were not just words intended to offer cosmetic and momentary comfort in a hopeless situation. These were not words that were intended merely to distract people from some very frightening realities.

No, these were effective and powerful words—words that could be spoken and proclaimed with full authority and promise because of what had happened earlier that morning. The lifeless body of a crucified Savior came alive by his own power. In rising from the dead, he defeated death itself and showed himself to be the One who makes and always keeps his amazing promises.

So when we find ourselves fearing the future and all of the uncertainties in our lives, the One who secured our eternal future by his resurrection tells us we have no reason to

fear, and he proved it by his exit from the tomb. When we find ourselves concerned about the church and its mission, the living Savior promises us that the gates of hell itself will not prevail against his church. And when we fear the results of our own sin and failings, the same resurrected Savior assures us, “As far as the east is from the west, that’s how far I’ve taken your sins from you” (cf. Psalm 103:12). Then he adds, “Because I live, you also shall live” (John 14:19).

What are you afraid of? Whatever it is, Christ’s Easter victory assures us that we do not need to fear anymore.

 

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Author: Mark G. Schroeder
Volume 103, Number 3
Issue: March 2016

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