I just finished reading my latest copy of Reader’s Digest. One of the articles this month was entitled, "I Survived! 7 Heart-Stopping Disasters in Real Life."
The authors of those stories had survived drowning, an assault, a grizzly bear attack, a house fire, a stampeding crowd, a tornado and armed kidnapping. To hear how they survived was fascinating. In each case what stood out was a calm demeanor in the face of unbelievable adversity. As I read each story, I wondered how I might have handled each situation.
The Bible is filled with stories of people facing adversity, too. Floods, fires, giants, beatings and prison are just a few of the dangers they survived. And there were even good things that must have raised the heartbeat and blood pressure of biblical characters. I mean, what would be your reaction if suddenly you were listening to the words of an angel standing right in front of you?
Over and over in the Bible we read the words, "Fear not," or "Do not be afraid." Many times when those words were spoken it was too late. The shepherds must have already been afraid at the sight of the angel, but he said to them, "Fear not." Same thing with Joseph and Mary. Fear is a natural reaction, but God continually tells us not to fear.
I’ve read this in more than one place, though I have not confirmed it myself. Still it is interesting to note that, according to those sources, the words, "Fear not," or something very much like them, are found in the Bible 366 times. That is once for each day of the year, including leap year.
Why would God include those words so many times for our benefit? Because he knows it is natural for us to fear. What do you fear? One study said that many people are more afraid of public speaking than they are death. But there are so many things that can cause us to fear; death, illness, problems with our children, money and so many more.
I ask you today. What frightens you? Can you give it to the Lord? He has promised never to leave you, nor forsake you. He wants you to trust in him. Because of that, I can say to you what the Lord has said over and over. Do not be afraid!