Faith Against Fear

““Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”” Luke 8:25

I recently preached a message from Luke 8 where Jesus calms the wind and waves on the sea of Galilee. This very short story is one that I love to contemplate, you can see it is still on my mind as I’m writing this devotional! The recent weather keeps the idea of storms fresh in my mind just the same. The stormy weather this week is not a particularly peaceful experience for our dog. She is not contemplating the authority of Jesus as she curls up as close to me as she possibly can.

It is well documented that dogs exhibit anxious behavior during storms. I was recently reading an article on the Humane Society website concerning behavior modification during thunderstorms. What made this article so unique was its perspective on dealing with the condition rather than the symptoms. The article spoke against coddling or punishing the dog because of the anxious behaviors. Coddling would only further associate thunderstorms with fear and thus perpetuate the anxious behavior. Punishing the dog would likewise perpetuate acting out. What the Humane Society addressed in this article was the need to foster a place of peace regardless of the storm. We must do away with the fear and not just the behaviors that are symptomatic of the fear.

When Jesus addressed the disciples who were anxiously awaiting their doom, pouring out buckets of chaotic sea from the deck of their boat, Jesus did not cuddle these men. If Jesus were to cuddle them what good would it do? Though Jesus did in fact chastise the disciples for their lack of faith, if he had only chastised them and not calmed the sea we would likely have a much different story. But what we see in Jesus is the ability to not rid us of our symptoms, but the ability to rid us of our doom. His love for us is proven by his authority over that which once caused us fear and anxiety, our desire for control.

Worry, fear, anxiety (terms which come from our desire for control) are symptomatic of our need for redemption. It is a good thing when we can come to a place where we simply say, “I don’t have it together.” It’s what we do after that statement, while we experience fear, that matters most. Are we directing it toward God, giving him control? This phrase can easily take the form of prayer:

“I don’t have it together, but I know you love me.”

“I don’t have it together, but I know you died for me for that very reason.”

“I don’t have it together, but I know your will be done.”

As the Psalmist says, “I don’t have it together…and though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for you are with me…” (Psalm 23:4).

Faith is almost like proper fear; fear, or awe, in the only Being worthy of real fear (Psalm 111:10). The faith that God calls us to is faith to believe that God truly loves us. And that based on this love, God will fulfill his promises to us. That is the purpose of the cross, it is an anchor that holds a specific moment, that is a moment in our own time, that proves no matter the storm or events Christ Jesus already loves us and will continue to love us until that love is made fully evident in new creation. As Alistair Begg and Sinclair Ferguson put it: “It is the cross alone that ultimately proves the love of God to us – not our providential circumstances.”[1] Storms will come, but prayers are not about the storms of life, they’re about the one who loves us.

It takes perfect love to drive out fear…and perfect love is found only in the cross of Christ (1 John 4:18). Perfect love doesn’t coddle us during a storm, it does much more than that. Perfect love gives purpose, it transforms the storm into worship of the Lord. God’s love conquered the storm of the Fall that we might weather such a storm to the safety of God’s calm shore, his arms. Each moment we come to our father in prayer we are expecting his love to hold us secure. Each word of prayer, whether verbal or spoken with the Spirit’s power, is an evidence that God’s love doesn’t just comfort, but that it ultimately takes the fear and force out of the storms of life. Though we might continue to go through this present stormy sea, the power that such a storm hold over us is snuffed by the cross, his perfect love.

Let us pray to recognize God’s love through all the storms we are facing. Let us give praise to our God that he is the only sovereign and perfect love. Praise him who gives us peace!

Pastor Chris Osterbrock

 

All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com

[1]Alistair Begg and Sinclair Ferguson. Name Above All Names (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2013), 32.

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