by Shannon Wagers
In the last chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, after Jesus’ death on the cross, we read that an angel of the Lord appeared to the women who had come to Jesus’ tomb to anoint his body with burial spices. “The angel spoke to the women, ‘Don’t be afraid!’ he said. ‘I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen’” (Matthew 28:5, 6, NLT). Mark’s Gospel tells us that “The women fled from the tomb, trembling and bewildered, and they said nothing to anyone because they were too frightened” (Mark 16:8, NLT). But as they fled, Jesus himself appeared to the women, and the first thing he said to them was, “Don’t be afraid!” (Matthew 28:10, NLT).
If you missed the sermon from our senior minister, Brad Wilson, this past Easter Sunday, you can check it out here.
Why was their first reaction each time one of extreme fear? Why are there so many messages in the Bible to “not be afraid!”? Why is fear such a common emotion for so many people today?
Fear is a natural human emotion that can manifest itself in different ways, such as anxiety, worry, or panic. In today’s world, people face various uncertainties and challenges that can trigger fear through everyday things like economic instability, social unrest, and personal struggles. Christians are not immune to these realities, but faith in Christ provides a perspective that can help them overcome fear and find hope and peace.
In the early ’90s, Christian bookstores carried what was called “witness wear.” These clothing items parodied popular brands. One of those was “No Fear” Wear. The brand became popular for its bold designs and fearless attitude. The company’s merchandise featured slogans, graphics, and quotes that were intended to convey a message of courage, confidence, and strength. The witness wear clothing featured “Fear Not” as an encouragement, as the Bible is filled with this encouragement.
Pastor and author Rick Warren has one of my favorite perspectives on the subject of fear. He has written and spoken about Psalm 23 on several occasions. One of his most well-known messages on this psalm is titled, “The Good Shepherd,” and in it, he shares several insights on the meaning and significance of this powerful passage of Scripture.
One key point that Warren shares about Psalm 23 is that it is not just a comforting passage for those who are going through difficult times, it is also a call to action. It emphasizes the importance of having a personal relationship with God. Let’s unpack Psalm 23 further.
A psalm of David.
“The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever” (NLT).
“The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.”
This statement reminds us that we do not need to fear because God is with us, leading and guiding us. When we trust in God, we can be confident that we will have everything we need to face whatever challenges come our way.
Verse two tells us that God will provide rest for us and guide us to peaceful places. Verse three declares that God provides strength and renews us. God will lead us to the right path so we can be a witness to the world and glorify his name for what he has done. These are not just one-time occurrences, but a daily promise.
Verse four says, “Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.”
This verse is a powerful reminder that we do not need to be afraid, even in the darkest moments of our lives. God is with us, and he will comfort and protect us.
Verse five reminds us that God is always providing for us, even during difficult circumstances. When we trust in him, we can have confidence that he will always take care of us.
Finally, in verse six, the psalmist declares that God’s goodness and mercy are always with us, and that we have a home in him that is secure and everlasting. When we trust in God, we can be fearless, knowing that we are never alone and that we will always be taken care of.
Are you still facing fear? Here are some assurances that believers in Christ can hold onto.
- Trust in God’s love and protection
For many Christians, the belief in a loving and powerful God who cares for them and protects them from harm is a cornerstone of faith. We believe that God is always with us, even in difficult times, and that nothing can separate us from his love. This trust in God’s care and protection can help us face our fears with courage and hope.
- Assurance of salvation
We believe that Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sins and that through his resurrection we have eternal life. This assurance of salvation gives us peace and security, knowing that our future is with God.
- Perspective on suffering
Christians understand that suffering is a part of life and that it can have a purpose in God’s plan. We believe that Jesus himself suffered for our sake, and that through our own suffering, we can grow in faith, character, and compassion. This perspective helps us face our fears with a sense of purpose and hope, knowing that God will bring good out of even the most difficult situations.
- Community support
Christians find strength and support in their church community. We believe that we are all a part of a larger family of believers who can encourage, pray for, and support each other through difficult times. This community helps us feel less alone and more resilient in the face of fear.
These are powerful reminders of the strength and courage that comes from trusting in God. When we choose to cast our fears at his feet, and place our faith in him, we can be fearless—even during the darkest valleys of life. Because of Jesus’ work on the cross for us, and his resurrection from the dead, that’s a fact we can rest in every day.
Shannon Wagers is a Corporate Trainer and Master Facilitator for P&G, where he leads the delivery of P&G Leadership Academy. Shannon resides in Liberty Township with his wife Ruth, daughter Katherine, and dog Bear.