Stress has been known to shorten lifespans. According to NaturalNews.com, stress damages our DNA. Independent.co.uk has even said, “a stressful workplace could take 33 years off your life expectancy”. Wow that's a big deal! Fear leading to stress is damaging to our health, but there is another kind of fear that doesn't bring stress.
Proverbs 10:27a says it well, “The fear of the LORD adds length to life.”
In the Bible, fear is often used to denote respect, rather than terror. In this light, we see a connection between fear and respect. The difference is, whenever we fear something other than God, it inspires dread and discomfort. When we fear God, it's more a reverence of honour and warmth. It brings respect to God, and comfort to us. The comfort of knowing the most powerful being in life is more powerful than anything that wants to harm us, disarms other kinds of fear. The fear of the Lord is the only fear that leads to comfort.
My pastor said something to this effect on Sunday, “When we let go and trust God, we begin to talk about how big God is, instead of how 'big' our problems are.”
Remembering to focus on the Lord, not my circumstances or issues, starts a domino effect. First, I remember who my life is really about; God, not me. Second, I remember that He is all-powerful, so if He asks me to do something, I have the responsibility to follow through on it.
Responsibility is a good word. It means we've been given the ability to respond. I heard it put quite beautifully, as follows, “God does not call the equipped, He equips the called.” When God asks you to do something, He will give you the ability to respond. Giving God the respect He is due, and following through on what He asks, reminds us how big God is, and how tiny our fears are.
This ability is not something we conjure up ourselves. A pastor I once new, named Cindy Peck, once said, “We are not to be problem-oriented people. We're not even to be solution oriented people. We're to be God-oriented people.” In Christ, we find our solutions and answers. That doesn't mean He'll give us all the answers we want, or even all the answers. It means that within Him are the answers. We don't need to know the answers and solutions, we only need to know the one who has the answers and solutions. Because God is the answer and solution to all our problems and fears.
It is said there are two kinds of knowledge. There is the knowledge you have retained from your experiences and there is the knowing of who to go to for it when you have no experience yourself. When something is greater than our experience we can respond with fear, or, in reverence, we can go to God who has all experiences within him and knows all things.
The Bible says in 1 John 4:18, “perfect love 'drives out' fear.” To have ourselves emptied of fear, we need to be filled with love. Earlier in verse 16, we're told, “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” So for us to be filled with love, and depleted of fear, we need God's Spirit living inside of us. The space has to be occupied by something.
Do your fears seem like immovable mountains? Then those fears have become your focus. What we focus on drives all our decisions and reactions. Ultimately, what we most focus on, is what we serve. The question is, do you want to serve your fears, or do you want to serve the God who is the answer and solution to all those fears? More than that, the God who sticks closer than a brother!
Those of us who are Christians will still be challenged by fear, like anybody else. The difference we have is, we have someone greater than our fears to turn to. So, what are you going to choose to fear, and therefore respect? Will you serve circumstances and problems that come and go, or the God who created us all, and who can fill us with love that drives out fear? As for me, I will fear the Lord.