It seems like a terrifying time to be alive. Fear and depression stats are off the charts as government officials warn to leave masks alone for health-care workers, then warn that if you do not wear a mask, you are committing a crime against your community. Then you don’t need a mask anymore, then you must wear one. And don’t even get me started on the politicization of gene therapy that has been misnamed “vaccines.” When Michael Crichton wrote The State of Fear, I wonder how fully he realized how accurate he was.
Fear controls. Fear restricts. Fear dominates. Fear enslaves. Fear manipulates.
Laura Dodsworth, a British photo-journalist used a similar title for one of her books, A State of Fear and spoke to Epoch Times about it on American Thought Leaders.
Curiously, the most common first words out of angels’ mouths when they showed up in the Bible were, “Fear not.” Unlike the nice little girls in a church Christmas pageant, they must be pretty scary when they materialize!
Scripture teaches there are two great fears every person has, and the first and foremost is fear of death. There is a mystery in Hamlet’s “undiscovered country” that makes us willing to suffer all kinds of burdens because we do not know what lies beyond since no one has come back to tell us . . . except Jesus 😉. And for those who have accepted His salvation, we can say with Paul, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:54-56)
Yet, even knowing what will happen AFTER I die does not completely remove the fear of this final baptism into the unknown. Of course, there are matters of pain, disease, or injury that are frightening, but when you read of martyrs who gave up their lives rather than renounce faith in Jesus, one cannot help but be moved by the lack of fear! Yet that hesitant fear remains.
It reminds me of my first time on a three-meter diving board. I had fallen from higher limbs out of trees onto leafy ground. The gym teacher had effectively taught me how to swim and I had even been in the “deep end” when swimming lengths of the pool. The week before, everyone in the class had jumped or dived off the low board. But as I climbed the 10 foot ladder to the platform my knees trembled and I was scared. One after another, classmates before me walked up (in what seemed to me overconfidence or bravado) and just casually walked to the boundary of common sense and suddenly they were GONE!
The splash that followed 1.42 seconds later did not give me any more confidence. I was going to leap to my death!! But I knew the line behind me would want me to get over the brink as quickly as possible so they could jump, so steeling my spirit and mind against the despondence of my doom, I also walked up and off the edge! The comfort of feeling the water enclose around me removed all my fear. So I expect it will be something like this when I “cross the Jordan.” Like the old hymn sang, “I won’t have to cross Jordan alone.”
But most of the people in the world do not have this comfort. For them, the fear of death is paramount in their minds. Everything they do (with the exception of adrenaline junkies) is to try to stay alive. And even adrenaline junkies take precautions and plan their escapades in expectation that they will survive. R.J. Corman reportedly offered $1,000,000 to his doctors for every year he lived after a cancer diagnosis in 2001. Many octogenarians and older still look for organ transplants and medical ‘miracles’ that will keep them alive “just little longer.” Without Jesus, death is the most fearsome adversary mankind faces. Even though everyone will die at some point, many often go to extremes to put off this inevitable contest with an opponent who is destined to win. Some even freeze their bodies in hopes that before frostbite sets in someone will come up with a cure for whatever is killing them!
The second greatest fear most people experience is, “What will the neighbors think!?” Okay, maybe not neighbors, but someone else. Fear of what other people think runs a very close second to the fear of death. Some people even risk death to avoid being thought foolish or vain or somehow less than what they wish they were. We joke in Kentucky, Bubba’s most common last words are, “Hey, ever-body, watch THIIIS!”
I recall when Nokia cell phones first came out, a man entering an elevator continued talking about his financial wizardry as we ascended 15 stories in the building. What he did not notice was the light on the face of his phone had gone out, indicating he had lost the connection in the lift! 🙄 But rather than admit to us strangers that he was not as savvy as wanted us to think, he kept up the charade.
Jesus warned specifically not to fear what people may think of you. “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves,… have no fear of them,… do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.” (Matthew 10:16-28) However, some authorities in Israel did not get the memo: “Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in Him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.” (John 12:42-43) Sooo sad.
For the Christ-follower, this is an ongoing battle with the flesh, to be humble and obedient and not worry about what people think. Some of us struggle with this more than others, but we are on the right path when we say with the author of Hebrews, “So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?'” (Hebrews 13:6)
In Jesus discourse the night before His crucifixion He told His disciples, and by them tells us, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.“ (John 14:27)
“Oh, the worst of all tragedies is not to die young, but to live until seventy-five and yet not ever truly to have lived.” Martin Luther King, Jr. who was assassinated at age 39