do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. Isaiah 41:10
Fear is an enemy. In 1933 a few years into the Great Depression, Franklin Delano Roosevelt said some words that are probably even better known than the legacy of his presidency: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself-nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance…” Roosevelt was pointing out a truth at a particularly unhopeful time in the life of this country, that fear was the enemy.
Sometimes the fear comes from outside. Something done to us, a diagnosis given to us. Sometimes it is our inner critic that tells us we are not good enough, not strong enough, not lovable, and not good enough. Often it is both inside and outside. It is the voice that convicts. It is with good reason that one of the names for the devil is the accuser because that is what the devil does. It really does not matter whether you believe that the devil is a being, the human reality of evil, or our own shadow side. The voice is the same- it says that we are what our circumstances define us as. It robs us of hope and its currency is fear.
The thing about fear is that it is a voice that we listen to even when it makes no sense. It is like a conversation with a dark reality that incessantly whispers the very words that undermine life. It is a voice that lies. To quote Zach William’s song, Fear Is A Liar.
God is a God that accepts us as we are, not as we wish we were or as we wish things would be. I can make a list of all the things that are not where I would like them to be in my life. I can even try to change the things that are changeable, but in the end it is a matter of giving it up to God. The God who comes to us in Jesus is most profoundly a God who turns fear into hope and hope into life!