There is a lot to be afraid about every waking moment of everyday living in a sin-filled world. We get good at desensitizing ourselves from fear, but spiritual maturity is the only way to truly live without fear. Living fearless is living like Christ.
Jesus expressed many human emotions while on earth. He demonstrated anger at the Pharisees and money changers, sadness over the death of his dear friend Lazarus, compassion for the crowds who had no idea who He really was or why He was on earth, disappointment in the disciples’ lack of faith, encouragement of the faith of followers—but never fear. Jesus was never afraid! He spoke quite a bit on the subject of fear, but His words were always instructions about how not to be afraid and how to conquer fear. Even in the Garden of Gethsemane He was fearless!
Humility is the first stepping stone to spiritual growth; fear is a good litmus step to monitor spiritual growth along the way. Have you passed your most recent pop quiz on spiritual growth lately? It will usually come by the way of trusting God during fearful circumstances. Sometimes God even sends you fearful circumstances to test your faith. Where do you turn when you are afraid?
Jesus sent His disciples into fearful circumstances to help them see how much spiritual progress they had made and how far they had yet to go. Jesus was with a crowd of people so desperate to hear what He had to say that they lost concern for how they would find enough nourishment to keep them from fainting on their way home. Jesus asked the disciples to find them something to eat and then fed them all—5000 men plus women and children. After such a spiritually enriching experience, Jesus determined it was time for a test of spiritual progress. He sent the disciples across the lake ahead of him, and He stayed to dismiss the crowd. He went up the mountain to pray. From the mountain he could see his disciples obeying His instructions, making good progress towards their destination. They had done well when it came to obedience and acknowledging miracles; now it was time to see how they managed in the face of danger. It was time for the fear-raising winds to blow.
The disciples were too far to reach either shore, trapped by the life-threatening winds. You can’t help but be afraid in conditions like this. It’s the way God designed our bodies to respond. They used all their energy to fight for their lives. In the midst of the chaos and confusion, they looked and saw Jesus doing a very contrary thing that increased their shock and fear. Jesus came to them, walking on water in the midst of a huge, life-threatening storm. Rather than see His triumph over the life-threatening wind, they gave in deeper to their fear.
Jesus wants us to follow His example when our personal storms overtake us. He wants us to learn to walk fearlessly, enduring the storms that Satan stirs up for us in this world. We know that we are walking with Him when His presence calms the clasp of fear. Prepare your heart for your next heart- vexing shock. Heed Jesus’ words to the disciples when He walked out to them in the storm:
“But Jesus immediately said to them: Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” (Matthew 14:27).