Do Not Be Afraid
Do you know how many times God, an angel, or a vision speaks the words “Do not be afraid” in Scripture? It is the most frequent command given in Scripture. Beginning with Abraham all the way to Paul and the disciples, God has been encouraging His people to act differently than their fears tell them to when it comes to doing His Kingdom work.
In Acts 18:9 we see God’s communication to Paul on this subject: “Onenight the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: Do not be afraid; keep on speaking,do not be silent. Paul had just arrived in Corinth when he had this vision.” It was his last stop on his second missionary journey. He had met the famous missionaries Priscilla and Aquila and had been joined by Timothy and Silas so he could devote himself to preaching. His support system was well established. Compared to Paul’s normal stops, Corinth was somewhat welcoming. Yes, the Jews had rejected his message, but the Gentiles were getting saved. There were no threats of violence against him as far as he knew. No one was serving him an arrest warrant or planning a riot.
Why would God choose this moment to encourage Paul not to be afraid and leaveCorinth? It’s because God knows us better than we know ourselves. God didn’twant Paul to miss out on giving this church the start it was definitely goingto need. God had Paul stay in Corinth for one and a half years. That was muchlonger than most of the churches he founded. As we know, this church in Corinthended up having a lot of problems that Paul would deal with during his next missionaryjourney. God wanted them to have more time with Paul to help them really grasponto the tools of faith. God knew what this church needed, but He also knew whatwas in Paul’s heart.
In my counseling field we call it Post Traumatic Stress. It is when people reactwith the fear associated with a stressful situation they experienced, but ata time when they are no longer being threatened. It was diagnosed often withVietnam Veterans. Paul wasn’t showing signs of Post Traumatic Stress fromthe beatings, imprisonments, stonings and being left for dead, but God knew hisheart and prepared him so he wouldn’t react with fear and leave Corinthprematurely. God knows the fear that is in our hearts even when we aren’taware of it.
Many people develop anxiety systems without being aware of what triggered theanxiety. They come to counseling to go back and uncover what is causing themto not be able to drive or be afraid to get into an elevator. Sometimes it iscaused by chemical imbalances and sometimes from fears that have been long buried.
There is only one remedy to fear. That is God’s love. I John 4:18 says, “Thereis no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to dowith punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” We all have fears living in a fallen world. God’s love is the force that drives out our fears. His love makes us fearless. Let His instruction, Do not fear, become true about whatever it is that you fear most by accepting His love for you in that situation.