"Why Are You So Fearful?"
Dying outside Christ is the most dreadful thing that can ever befall a person.
At a time when the world braces itself for the worse following the coronavirus outbreak, it helps to remember Jesus’ reaction with regard to human fear. While it is normal for people to be apprehensive in situations like the current pandemic, Jesus would nonetheless want humans to exert calm.
On one occasion, the Lord was travelling with His disciples in a boat on the Sea of Galilee when a great storm arose, threatening to capsize the vessel and perhaps kill the occupants as a result. In Mark’s account of this event, we read that “there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full” (Mark 4:37).
This must have been an unusual storm, because these disciples, who were for most of them fishermen, had lived and worked on that sea for most of their lives. These men surely were acquainted with the surge of the waves. Yet, they were afraid. So they rudely awoke Jesus who had fallen asleep, and said to Him, “Master, carest thou not that we perish?” To this question the Master replied, “Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?” And he went on to quieten the winds.
The request by the companions of Jesus was an indication of their despair, just as panic buying and stock piling are expressions of people’s anguish in the face of the covid-19 crisis. The latter reactions are motivated by the fact that members of the public fear that they might go without food and other provisions in the coming days.
This kind of fear is experienced by anyone over unforeseen circumstances. The apostle Paul did. He said, “When we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears (2 Corinthians 7:5). The background to this is that Paul had written the Corinthians a rebuke in a first letter, that is 1 Corinthians. But now he was anxious to hear from his associate Titus whether his rebuke had had the result he expected. He was worried that the Corinthians might have failed to take his criticism over their soft handling of the case of adultery among them in the spirit of correction which he intended.
But there is another type of fear, which is the awe and reverence one feels in the presence of God or His wonders. This is the sense in which the word “fear” is used in Proverb 9:10. This verse says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” The disciples of Jesus who were with Him in the boat displayed this feeling. They had been terrified by the thought of being swallowed by the waters of the sea; but now they stared in wonder at the divine power of Jesus which He demonstrated before them when He successfully ordered the storm to be still.
There is no doubt in my mind that populations all across the world must hear and heed the messages from governments and the World Health Organization (WHO) as to following the new hygienic rules if the battle against the coronavirus is to be won. But, at the same time, we need to take the opportunity of this global disaster to declare the gospel.
To do that is to tell people of “the exceeding greatness of his power [God’s] to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead” (Ephesians 1:19-20). The men in the boat with the Son of God being more deeply moved by His power over the raging sea than by the peril of dying by drowning is a lesson to be learned. The shift of focus in our hearts from the uncertainty of life to God’s amazing grace can certainly help dispel the storm of anxiety that rages in our minds.
Dying out of Christ (Ephesians 2:12) and away from God (1 Thessalonians 1:9) is the most dreadful thing that can ever befall a person. Don’t let this happen to you; come to the Saviour, Jesus Christ. He will deliver you from all fears. There is no reason to be afraid for one who is in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:13).