Scripture for reflection: Exodus 14:5-15
“But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today.” Exodus 14:13, NLT
The whole world has tasted the common fear of the Covid-19 virus – it has filled us with the fear of death and the fear of the collapse of our hospital services. Countries are grappling with measures to control the pandemic and such measures are causing financial and emotional distress. Fear is the root of much of the suffering in the Covid-19 pandemic. We are caught between our fears of the pandemic and our fears of economic collapse. We are like the the Jews who were caught between the Egyptian army and the Red Sea – to be slaughtered by the Egyptian army or to face death by drowning in the Red Sea.
The history of the Jews from their deliverance in Egypt to their exile in Babylon is a graphic picture of discipleship. Following Christ is not a linear journey from salvation to sanctification. It is not about getting to heaven but journeying with Christ through the ups and downs of life. And the first step of the journey is to recognize the insanity, foolishness and futility of trying to find happiness in life by seeking pleasure, suppressing our fears and running away from our troubles. The harsh reality of life is that our dreams and hearts will be broken, sooner or later, in a fallen world infected by sin and evil.
The stories in the bible are not to fill our minds with knowledge. They are to equip us to face and overcome fear. They are sacred stories of God’s S.O.S. – the wonderful Story of Salvation. These stories are to illumine our minds with the truth of God’s amazing grace as we see how God rescued the Jews time and time again from their lustful desires . The heroes and villains in the biblical stories reveal the strengths and weaknesses of human nature as well as the potential for good and evil that is present in all our hearts. We are all stories in the end. We have the freedom to choose how we want our stories to end – a comic or tragic tale of our desire to glorify ourselves – “I did it my way” – or the story of our faith in the mercy and grace of God to glorify God as we seek God’s way for our lives.
Our response to fear reveals what is deep within our hearts. Is fear leading us to flee from pain and suffering or is faith moving us to see God at work in our pain and suffering? In the pandemic, the taste of fear can drive us to give up our freedoms and to find refuge in human solutions such as lock-downs and vaccinations. Or we can seek the freedom of living in the kingdom of heaven in the here and now.
When fears are buried or hidden, they enslave us. It is critical that we identify the fears that keep us in slavery in the Egypt of our lives, especially the fear of loss and suffering. We need to face such fears with the promise of God – “do not be afraid.” We can choose to stand on God’s promises to give us beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.1
Only then will we be able to mourn when our dreams and hearts are broken. We will mourn the loss of our control over life as we face and feel our fears. It is only when we do so that grief becomes a blessing for it draws us to an intimacy with God that wealth and pleasure can never provide. We have the blessed assurance that those who mourn shall be comforted.2 It is only when we mourn that we can experience the promise that we will be filled with the comfort of our Heavenly Father. 3
Grief is never from God – it is the consequence of the hardness of our human hearts when we cling tightly to the idols of our comfortable and hedonistic lives. We are tempted to drown our fears through things such as alcohol, gambling, sex, computer games, the social media and virtual worlds like the Metaverse. But the best way to taste fear is to stand still and put on the armour of God,4 as we watch the Holy Spirit drown our fears in the Red Sea of God’s agape love.
Fear reminds us that we are living in slavery to sin. We can let fear open our eyes to our spiritual poverty – that our hearts are cluttered with the things of this world and we are Being Under Satan’s Yoke when we are B.U.S.Y. Fear can be a stepping stone to faith that draws us to hear Jesus, our gentle Saviour calling us:
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”5
Our fears reveal the lust for power that is deep within our hearts. We need to wait on God by resting in Christ so that the Holy Spirit can transform our lust for power into the power of love. Our fears are to help us to come to the end of ourselves and to see and to live out the truth that God’s amazing grace is all we need and that God’s power is greatest when we are weak.6 We do not need to get rid of our fears but we can turn them into fears that are full of the wonder of God’s amazing grace by trusting in God as we stand upon His Word:
“When the enemy surrounds and my heart grows faint within
When the darkness overwhelms and my fears are pressing in
I will trust in You, O Lord, in the silence I will wait
I will stand upon Your Word”7
Lord, grant me the serenity to taste my fears and help me to stand by faith to watch You drown them in the Red Sea of Your mercy and grace.
- How can I taste my fears so that they can inspire me to wait on God?
- How am I meditating on God’s Word so that my mind can be illuminated with the truths of God?
- How can I declutter my heart so that my heart can be ignited with the fire of love?
Song of Praise
My Soul Will Wait (Psalms 62)
- Isaiah 61:3
- Matthew 5:4
- 2 Cor 1:3-4
- Ephesians 6:10-17
- Matthew 11:28-30 NKJV
- 2 Corinthians 12:9
- My Soul Will Wait (Psalms 62)