Fear is a common theme throughout Scripture. Why shouldn’t it be? Fear appears to be a common theme in life! Whether it’s the fear between people, fear in difficult circumstances, fear of spiritual elements, fear of the natural world or a reverent fear of God, anyone of us might be able to identify a specific moment when fear has petrified us.
I remember being jolted awake in the middle of the night as a young boy. Immediately, I was convinced that the light reflected in the hallway was a bugler. I lay motionless as my heart raced for what seemed like an hour. I was about run across the hall to my parent’s room when I realized that the light that had frightened me was our hallway nightlight. The experience taught me that authentic, petrifying fear can arise from anywhere in our day-to-day life, even in irrational ways.
This past Sunday, we looked at Peter’s unique experience of walking on the water with Jesus as recorded in Matthew 14. His experience can serve as a great analogy of how to conquer our own fears.
First, surrender control and recognize that you’re not strong enough to ‘walk on the water.’ There was nothing about Peter which made his buoyancy possible. He was supported above the waves because he exchanged human control for the words of His divine teacher. If you struggle with fear, this may mean asking for physical, emotional, mental and spiritual assistance to face the challenge which lies ahead of you.
Secondly, keep walking towards Jesus, even if you’re taking small steps. No matter how large the waves grow and how loudly the wind howls, keep moving forward. This is easier said than done!
Thirdly, find rest in worshiping the Lord, like the disciples did back in the boat, during those brief moments when fear is exchanged with peace. Worship renews our spirit and allows us to trust Him more when the next, larger storm arrives.
Odds are that you will struggle with fear at some point in your life – whether from an out-of-control imagination or a very challenging life experience. When you do, consider Peter’s journey with Jesus on the water. This is not a scientific method for ‘fear removal’, but it is consistent with God’s method for overcoming fear. Consider 1 Peter 5:6-7 which says, “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties upon Him because He cares for you.”
Also consider Peter’s greatest moment of weakness – the moment when he was re-consumed by his fear. It happened when he stopped moving, became distracted by the waves and the howling wind, and forgot that Jesus was just a few feet away calling out to him. When he stopped moving, he stopped trusting and began to sink quickly. In those moments when you begin to feel yourself drowning with fear, anxiety, or any other struggle, consider that (by grace) Jesus is eager to grab your hand and steady your step. As Jesus says in Matthew 6, if God feeds the birds and clothes the grass and lilies of the field, “how much more will He provide for you” (6:30b)!
Keep moving closer to Him, even in the midst of the storm. I have no doubt that you will find that God's Word through Isaiah is trustworthy when he wrote, “You keep him/her in perfect peace whose mind is fixed on you, O Lord” (Isaiah 26:3).