I’ve read that terrific storms can strike without warning on the Sea of Galilee. It happened to Jesus and His disciples once, but Jesus slept through most of it. Finally, afraid for their lives, the disciples awoke Jesus, begging Him to save them. And Jesus did. He stood up and quieted the storm with His words.
Then He had a question for His disciples:
“Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” (from Matthew 8:26 NKJV)
If it had not been Jesus speaking, I can almost imagine the disciples’ mouths falling open at those words. “Why are we fearful?” they might have repeated, incredulous. “Did you not see that storm?”
Here’s some of the description from the Bible:
“…the boat was covered with the waves.” (Matthew 8:24 NKJV)
“And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling.” (Mark 4:37 NKJV)
“…And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water, and were in jeopardy.” (Luke 8:23 NKJV)
That last verse actually states that they were in “jeopardy,” unequivocal danger. Not just being “fraidy cats.” Four of them were professional fisherman, doubtless acquainted with Galilee’s storms. Even they were fearful.
This situation gave any rational person a right to be afraid.
Yet Jesus wants to know why they were fearful. He wants to know where their faith went. He implies that their natural response should have been to trust God so completely that they let Jesus keep on sleeping through the storm. (After all, His body obviously needed the rest since He slept through all that tossing and filling of the boat.)
God has a very different standard than we do for what is worthy of our fear.
In Revelation, Jesus sends a message to one of His churches, encouraging them not to fear.
“Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
-Revelation 2:10 (NKJV)
Jesus plainly warns them that they are about to endure prison (which was quite an ugly place in the first-century Roman Empire) and other unspecified difficulties which fall under the ten days of tribulation.
Yet Jesus tells them not to fear any of those things.
In fact, in Matthew 10:28, Jesus said, “And do not fear those who kill the body…”
What? If ever a person had right to fear, it is when someone threatens their very life.
But Jesus says not to fear anyone who might kill us.
“But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
-Matthew 10:28b (NKJV)
There is One alone who has that power: the Lord GOD Himself.
He is the only One we are to fear.
If I’m afraid of what people might think of me, I need only ask God what He thinks of me. If He is satisfied, I need worry no longer.
If I’m afraid I won’t have enough money for such-and-such, I need only ask God if He would have me spend the money that way. If He approves, He will provide.
If I’m afraid my country will collapse around me, injuring those I love most, I need only remind myself that God holds the whole universe in His hands. Nothing is out of His control.
If I’m afraid that there’s no way on earth I can do something, I need only ask God if He wants me to do it. If He does, He will strengthen me.
No matter what, I need never fear.
And honestly, that’s a little difficult to wrap my brain around. You mean there is nothing in this world that I need fear? “Nothing,” as in, nothing?
It sure looks that way.
Perhaps, if I wander out of God’s will, then I would need to fear. Because God might very well let me suffer the consequences of my foolishness in order to send me running back to Him. But that is not a fear of man or a fear of this world. It is a fear of God.
Having faith in Jesus, like I say I do, means being absolutely fearless of what this world may throw at me.