The phrase “do not be afraid” is mentioned roughly 365 times in the Bible. Countless pastors, authors, and speakers have put that number in their arsenal of quick-witted Christian responses, pulling it out in conversations like a cheap party trick.
“Don’t worry. Just pray.”
This Bob Marley approach to the issue is sadly in line with what a lot of Christians and even some pastors still tell people in the midst of people sharing about fear.
Since the first bite of the forbidden fruit, we’ve often used Scripture as a rug, sweeping under it anything and everything we can’t explain, treating it as a barrier between us and the uncomfortable.
But that phrase means something entirely different than what we’ve been told most of our lives. Being told “don’t be afraid” in terms of a command or “don’t worry” is extremely unhelpful because what this saying isn’t referring to is getting over an emotion. That’s not what it’s saying at all.
Rather, this is an invitation to see Jesus even in the midst of that fear and to see that He is with you and for you always.
Something happens if you’ve got a fear in front of you and then you start to focus on Jesus. Just like with anything else, the more you focus on something, the bigger that object or person gets. So if you focus on Jesus in the midst of your fears, His presence and His love, fear begins to shrink.
In the end, let’s put away the guilt instead say, “God, I’m afraid. But I trust in you despite that.” As the Scripture says in Psalm 56:3:
“When I’m afraid I’m going to put my trust in you.” – Psalm 56:3