Fear In A Fallen World
The world is a scary place.
You don't have to look very far to find something to be afraid of. Turn on the news, and you will hear about another terrorist attack. or the rise in knife crime, or another story of sexual assault. Accidents, illnesses, and difficult circumstances of every kind abound.
Perhaps you have firsthand experience: the scary things other people have only read about have happened to you, and there is no escaping the fear that wells up.
There is no question about it: we live in dangerous times, and the threats we face breed anxieties and fears for the future. What will take place tomorrow? Will my family be ok? How can I leave my front door in the morning when there is no guarantee something bad won't happen to me?
I recently flew to the Netherlands, and the presence of specialised police with huge guns patrolling the airport made me feel a little bit safer, but not even a heavily-armed police officer could protect me from the fearful thoughts that filled my head and heart.
Realising the world is a scary and uncertain place can be one of the most unsettling things that comes along with growing up.
Childhood shields us to some degree, but when we leave that stage of life behind, suddenly the bits of news we hear or the things we experience ourselves crash into our view of the world, and we are left shaken and afraid. We begin to realise that we control very little in this world.
So how do we keep going? Should we pretend the world isn't scary? Should we distract ourselves any time an anxious thought pops into our mind? Can we reason our way out of fear?
When I was little, I used to pull my duvet up over my head and curl into a little ball if the robbers, kidnappers, or pirates I was certain were hiding in the bushes were finally coming to get me - my imagination was a little overactive. In the muted darkness, I'd feel a little safer - if I couldn't see the pirates, they couldn't see me - but any measure of peace my duvet brought me was short-lived, unable to remove my bedtime fears for the following night.
When I realised my duvet could not comfort me, I would call out one word: "Mum!"
I knew my mum would come. I knew she would hold me. I knew she'd fight off the pirates, and I could sleep because Mum was watching over me.
Here’s the thing: we want a person when we are afraid.
More specifically, we want a person who can overpower the legitimately scary things and comfort us in our fears.
The best news then is that there is one who delights in having his name called whenever we are afraid, anywhere and at anytime.
He is, as Psalm 121 says, the God who watches over us:
I lift up my eyes to the mountains –
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip –
he who watches over you will not slumber.
God is the Maker of heaven and earth, which means He has infinite power and resources. He never takes a break or naps while He is watching over you.
He guards you from physical harm, and where he permits it, he turns that harm into something good for you.
Even better, he protects you from spiritual harm: nothing, not even your worst fear, can snatch you away from his love. (Rom 8:35-39).
It is exhausting trying to protect yourself. You can't do it. You will end up endlessly scanning for the next scary thing. But the beautiful (and humbling!) truth is that you are not called to protect yourself. Psalm 121 continues by declaring that it is God who keeps you, God who watches over you, and God who grants the grace you need every time fear comes crashing in.
Not only is this God the perfect Person to call on when you're afraid, He invites you to bring your fears and worries to Him. He knows you get scared, so there is no need to pretend you are stronger than you are. He knows the specific things that scare you the most, and He is actively at work to provide the grace you need to walk through the threats and uncertainties of this life – even if those uncertainties become realities.
So step confidently into each day, entrusting every minute to His strong, loving, and wise care of you.
Amanda lives in Cambridge, where she is on staff at Christ Church Cambridge. After milking cows in Canada for a long time, she moved to the United States for three years, where she studied biblical counselling with CCEF. She is attempting to fit into British culture, but somehow still calls waterproof trousers ‘splash pants’.