“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” – Proverbs 9:10 KJV. God tells us the wisest thing we can do is fear Him, and He promises that knowledge of the Holy One will be understanding. It is not a tyrannical fear of someone who wants our first born thrown into a fire. It is a reverent fear in recognition of His omnipotent sovereignty.
I love God with all my heart, mind, soul, and body. I humbly fear Him as He rightly deserves. Having said that, I must be honest that I struggle with unhealthy and unfair fear of Him at times. Sometimes I believe it comes from our church preaching fire and brimstone, making me afraid that Satan was waiting to push me in the lake of fire. On top of this my mom would tell us Satan or God was coming in the night because of whatever we did to make her mad. But Jude 1:22-23 tell us “And of some have compassion, making a difference: and others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.” God deemed I needed both.
There is also the fear of losing someone or something I love. I lost my first hero, my granddad, when I was 8. He saved my life when I fell out of a car, but I could not save his. Shortly after his death, my siblings and I were put into foster care. I tried to figure out what I did wrong to my granddad, my dad, my mom, and God to make them mad. It seemed ever time I got close to someone they either died, moved, or were simply gone. I used to think God got mad if I loved someone more than Him.
I believe God used those times to teach me to love Him above all others because He gave me those who loved me and that I loved. Secondly, He taught me to cherish time with anyone, whether a friend, family, or lover, or whether for an hour or years, by thanking Him for those persons. As I became thankful, it seemed I had a season of gain in love, friendships, and a growing family. Our dysfunctional family became a healthy family.
But then losses started coming… often… and personal. The more people you know and love, the more people you have to lose. It’s just the cost of living… at least that what depression tells me. My God tells me it is His blessing to have loved… and what feels like loss… is gain. I’m the one losing. My loved one has gained new life… eternal life. I would never drag them back into this wretched and evil life, just to worry about them experiencing death again because “I” suffer.
The losses pour the poison of depression into my wounds. The grief chokes at my hope. But I know someone who knows my loss. He lost His Son to save my life, and the lives of family & friends. He watched His Son die a cruel death, and be mocked as He suffered. Yes, He resurrected His Son. But His Son suffered His own loss of friends & family.
We often forget about God suffering, watching His Son die. We don’t count it the same for a God we do not know, to suffer cruelty and heartache, to watch His only Son die! We forget Jesus wept as His friend Lazarus lay in the grave. Yes, Jesus did resurrect Lazarus. But there is one other death that gets overlooked that was cruel and heartless.
When I have cried to Jesus about my Lazarus not coming back (my baby brother Charlie who was killed at 37), He reminds me of His beloved Cousin John the Baptist who was beheaded because of a jealous woman, a prideful and lustful man, and a temptress of a daughter. John’s head was served on a platter as a party favor in a room of laughing people. He was NOT resurrected. Matthew 11:11 and Luke 7:8 both say, “Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist.” So my Jesus knows exactly how I feel to have lost beloved family in a cruel way, where someone stood and laughed as he laid dead, the same someone who played a role in his death. But I know Jesus will look after my brother as His Father looked after John till He got home!
I know this doesn’t really address the fear in the way I can struggle with it. But there are a few things that scripture tells me that I cling to when my depression or anxiety, and sometimes both try to choke the life and hope out of me.
1. Satan is the Father of Confusion. “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” – 1 Corinthians 4:13 KJV
2. Jesus knew what anxiety felt like when HE took on human flesh to experience what we experience. “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” – Luke 22:44 KJV
3. My lack of understanding everything is not God failing to keep His promise. He allows me to understand Holy things about Him… which includes His awareness of my tendency to fear. All over His word He says Fear not, Be not afraid.
4. Lastly, trusting in the love and grace of my Savior Jesus Christ, the one who has felt and understands anxiety, loss, grief, fear… brings me a whole new promise from God. “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:7 KJV. When I fear because I don’t understand everything about my God and His will, the love of Christ will give me peace beyond all understanding. I believe this because I’m blessed to experience it every day of my life. It’s hard to explain, but even in “feeling” fear or hopelessness, I do still have His peace!