Do Not Be Afraid
With chapter five, Welch turns from observations about the experience of fear and worry to what God has to say on the subject. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Do not be afraidÃ¢â‚¬Â is GodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s most frequent command in the Bible, occurring over three hundred times.
The author wants us to be alert to the vast difference between our saying, Ã¢â‚¬Å“DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t worry,Ã¢â‚¬Â and when God says it. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s encouraging to know that He doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t just say the words to get us off his back. The sheer repetition indicates that He knows how stubborn our fears can be and that He does not trivialize them. But the author is also realistic. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Perhaps the thing you dread has already hit you full force. Long ago you observed that those who worship God are not spared the horrors of life. With that in mind, Ã¢â‚¬ËœDo not be afraidÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ sounds well-intentionedÃ¢â‚¬â€maybeÃ¢â‚¬â€but it doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t help much in real lifeÃ¢â‚¬Â (p.62).
Welch suggests that fear is a strong emotion that claims to tell us how life really is, and that fear is impatient, demanding relief immediately. These are important to note because one of the first steps in combating fear and worry is to slow down (Ã¢â‚¬Å“Be stillÃ¢â‚¬Â Psa. 46:10). According to the author, Ã¢â‚¬Å“if fear slows down for a minute, it realizes that peace and rest can only reside in someone rather than something . . . Ã¢â‚¬Å“ (p.63). Welch proposes: Ã¢â‚¬Å“let fear point us to the knowledge of God, and let the Spirit of God, by way of Scripture, teach us the knowledge of GodÃ¢â‚¬Â (p.64).
GodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s exhortation not to be afraid says something about God even before it says something to us. Welch references Luke 12:32 where Jesus says, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.Ã¢â‚¬Â The passage is used to reveal GodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s heart. What is demonstrated in this passage by the fact that God is Ã¢â‚¬Å“your Father,Ã¢â‚¬Â that God is the King (Ã¢â‚¬Å“give you the kingdomÃ¢â‚¬Â) and that God is generous?
Finally, the author addresses the question: Ã¢â‚¬Å“Is it wrong to worry or be afraid?Ã¢â‚¬Â I like his answer. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Maybe, but put these questions on hold. The emphasis in Scripture is, Ã¢â‚¬ËœWhen I am afraid, I will trust in youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ (Ps. 56:3). The issue isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t so much whether or not we are afraid and worry. Scripture assumes that we will be afraid and anxious at times. What is important is where we turn, or to whom we turn when we are afraidÃ¢â‚¬Â (p.69).
My own journey
IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m going to record the authorÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s end-of-chapter prayer here, instead of my own thoughts. It serves well to express my own thoughts and desires.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“God, open my ears. I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t clearly hear your care and compassion when you tell me not to worry or be afraid, but I know they are there.
Father, open my eyes. I act like I see all reality. I act like I can see even more than you do. But I am seeing now that there is an entire world that is blurry to me, and that world is you. It is you I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t see well.
I want to trust in what you say and see the things you have revealed. That leaves me no choice but to start with humility. This is the way all journeys with you begin. Please teach me humility so that what you say overrules what I feel.Ã¢â‚¬Â
What tone do you hear when God says, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Do not be afraid?Ã¢â‚¬Â
What inferences can you draw from Luke 12:32 about GodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s command not to be afraid?
When is worry or fear a sin? Or when does it become a sin? Why is this question important?