“After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward’” (Genesis 15:1, NIV 2011).
I didn’t know that sheriffs still wore hats like that. But there he was, with that big, round-brimmed hat, standing at the front desk of my waiting room, handing me a multi-million dollar malpractice suit. A young man whom I had taken off warfarin about a year before had died from a pulmonary embolus. The family had decided it was my fault.
It certainly was my decision. The more I looked at his chart, the more I became afraid.
God says He will be our shield. God says, “Do not fear.” But it’s not that easy.
Our life experiences tell us that, even with God’s promises, we can get really hurt by life. And so comes the fear.
I don’t fully understand God’s promises. When they don’t fit well with life as it really is, I suspect I am missing what He is trying to tell me.
When God then tells us, “Do not fear,” what is He actually saying?
I like what Scottish minister John MacMurray wrote:
“Fear not. The things you fear may well happen to you but they are no reason to be afraid.”
This certainly falls in line with my experience in life. Christians die from cancer; Christians die from persecution; Christian doctors face lawsuits that may cost them their homes and retirement; sometimes, Christian children die young. The things we fear most may happen—but God says we should not be afraid. I can’t pretend to understand this fully but I know it is true because I know the One who tells me, “Do not fear.”
I catch but a glimpse of His meaning in other words He gave us:
“In this world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33b, ESV).
“...in all things God works for the good of those who love him” (Romans 8:28a, NIV 2011)
Throughout this life, I will face things that I fear and some will seek to crush me. But God stands beside me in strength; He stands before me, calling me forward; and His arms are outstretched beneath me so that I cannot fall far. There is no reason to be afraid.
When the facts make me fear, let me put my trust in you.