One of the strangest words I ever had on a vocab test was “triskaidekaphobia,” which means fear of the number thirteen. Strange for sure, but that’s not as weird as it gets. “Linonophobia” is the fear of string; “arachibutyrophobia” is the fear of peanut butter sticking to the mouth; and most recently, linguists came up with “nomophobia” to describe the anxiety that arises from being out of cell service range, without a charged phone, or with a lost phone. The struggle is real!
You probably don’t need to Google the long list of peoples’ odd phobias to know how fearful people can be. You feel your own worries on a daily basis, and sometimes they can seem impossible to overcome.
That’s why it’s not surprising when God speaks in Scripture, His most common, comforting command is this:
Do not be afraid.
God spoke these words directly to Abram when God told him to pack up and move so he could become a great nation. “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield and your very great reward” (Genesis 15:1).
God gave this command to King Jehoshaphat as they faced an insurmountable enemy. “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s” (2 Chronicles 20:15).
David wrote about trusting in God during some of the darkest moments of his life. “The Lord is my light and my salvation — whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life — of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1).
God spoke to the prophet Isaiah, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand" (Isaiah 41:10).
Jesus taught on the hillside about the silliness of worrying. “So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:31).
Before being taken to the cross and giving his life for our sins, Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).
Do not be afraid.
When the Son of Man appeared to the Apostle John in his Revelation, He said, “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive forever and ever!” (Revelation 1:17-18).
Do not be afraid.
We hear it over and over again, so it’s obvious these are words for us today. When we face daily life, fear rises up: bad grades, injuries, college applications, breakups, abusive words, regrets, consequences, a lost game, job changes, and more. So we try to beat fear with control. If only I can study enough… if I hide long enough this problem will go away… if I eat healthier… if I give up, I won’t care anymore… We believe if we can control everything that goes into making us happy in this world, then we can cover up our fears. But the truth is that nothing will make us happy or peaceful except relinquishing control to God.
It’s not easy, but that’s why we go to His Word and His Spirit in us, always there with four simple words: Do not be afraid. He reminds us that he is worthy of our trust. He cares for all of our needs, great and small; He is our refuge and ever-present help; and He has proven himself faithful to the very end, once dead, now alive forever.
“Do not be afraid” means trusting God with everything. We breathe out fear and breathe in God’s Word of protection and promise.
Take a few moments in prayer right now to ask God what you fear today.
Fear is ever-present unless we replace it with trust. To remind yourself of God’s loving protection, read over the verses above and insert your name in each one. For example: “Do not be afraid, _____. I am your shield and your very great reward.”
Prayer: God, search my heart and show me what my fears are. Help me lay them at the cross, where you died for them, and replace them with full trust in you. Help me to live fully believing in your care, unhindered by worry. You deserve all glory and honor and praise! In Jesus’ name, Amen.