How we can overcome fear by having faith
In the account where Jesus calmed the storm (Mark 4:35-41), Christ told his disciples, “Let us go across the Sea of Galilee.” So they left the crowd and got into a boat. But Jesus soon fell asleep, probably due to fatigue from preaching to the multitudes.
Soon a tempest arose and the boat was already filling with water. Fearful, the disciples woke Jesus up, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
Jesus awoke and rebuked the wind and commanded the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and a great calm ensued.
Jesus asked, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with fear saying, “Who is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?”
The storm was truly great. Though they were experienced fishermen, used to raging wind and waves, they panicked and thought they would perish. Perhaps, they figured that their Master was unaware or unconcerned when the storm struck.
The Sea of Galilee is actually a lake. It is prone to sudden violent storms that die down as quickly as they start. The reason for this is that a pass in the mountains west of the lake forms a funnel for winds blowing in from the Mediterranean. Many fishermen over the centuries have to contend with its idiosyncrasy.
Jesus displayed His power over the forces of nature in the physical storm. Think about the other storms in life that cause anxiety and worry—financial loss, terminal disease or bereavement. Do we believe that Christ, the Prince of Peace, can offer comfort when we face such storms?
- “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (John 14:27).
- “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
- If we would commit our worries to Him and call upon Him, He would give us the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:6–7).
It may seem Jesus was hard on the disciples when He reminded them to have faith. But is it so? At the outset, Jesus had already told them that they were to cross the lake. If the Master had already determined the course and destination and stayed with them on the boat, would they not arrive safely on the other side of the lake? Why did they doubt?
Elsewhere, when the disciples failed to deliver the demoniac, Jesus rebuked them for their lack of faith: “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you” (Mark 9:19a)?
But let’s not fault the early disciples. Many believers today are also weak in faith. Indeed, Jesus taught in the Parable of the Widow and the Wicked Judge that genuine faith will be rare in the end times (Luke 18:8b).
When faith is weak and we focus on the circumstances, we will be overwhelmed by fear. In the case of the disciples, they focused on the storm.
Conversely, when we look to God and cling on to His word by faith, we will not be overcome by fear. In the case of the disciples, Jesus’ word to them was that they would cross the lake.
Faith and fear are like oil and water. They do not happily coexist. We cannot be controlled by fear when we have faith and vice versa.
Faith is the opposite of fear. When we have faith, we may have some niggling fear but we do not allow it (fear) to control us—whether it paralyses or causes panic, like the disciples caught in the storm.
And there is no way we can please God without faith. “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).
Do we believe in God’s amazing power? Jesus not only demonstrated his supernatural ability over the elements. Once He arrived on the other side of the lake, He delivered from bondage a demon-possessed man who lived among the tombs. Later, he continued to minister by healing the woman with the issue of blood and raising a little girl from the dead.
The fact that Jesus is in the boat reminds us of God’s presence with us in life’s journey. This should reassure us that, no matter what crisis or trial hits us, we will reach our destination and fulfil His calling for our lives.
I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
“God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling.”
“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
(Psalm 46: 10)
“Fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
One of the clear indications of faith is that we remain still, unperturbed amid crisis, focusing on God’s promise that He will deliver us through it all. “If you come back to me you will be saved. Only by remaining calm and trusting in me can you be strong” (Isaiah 30:15).
When crisis strikes, do we remain still and calm, clinging on to God, having faith in His promises? Or are we overcome by fear?
Do not fear, only believe (Mark 5:36). If Christ can calm the tempest, He can also calm the various storms in our lives.
When we face crisis, we need to realise that the battle belongs to God. We just need to stand firm in faith and act only at the appropriate moment.
Who or what do we turn to when crisis strikes? Where do we place our hope and trust?
The greater our faith, the more we are freed from the tyranny of our feelings and external circumstances.
Many a time fear has been bandied around as something negative. But fear has its positive side as well.
Note: Dr Lim Poh Ann is a medical practitioner. He was the former editor of Asian Beacon magazine (Dec 2008 – Oct 2011). He can be reached at his Facebook page, www.facebook.com/AskDrLi
SOURCE OF ARTICLE: http://limpohann.blogspot.my/2017/02/faith-and-fear.html
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