It was storming outside as we ate dinner with friends. Their young son was frightened by the storm and called out for his dad. As father and son talked in the bedroom, a large clap of thunder sounded, and we all jumped. When our friend returned to the meal, I off handedly said something like “we all want our parents when we are scared.” And my friend’s response caught my attention. “There are many things my son will be frightened of in his life,” he said, “and it is important that he learns to whom he can turn to when he is scared. I will not always be there, and I want him to learn that our heavenly Father is.”
As children, we are easily scared in the dark. Loud noises make us jump. The thought of being alone in a dark bedroom frightens us when we are used to having someone close by. And then there is the imagined…but oh so very real to a child….monster under the bed. In our rational, lights-on world, these things are silly to be scared of – really, there is nothing there! But for the child, they are both overpowering and real, and just the thought of them can leave a child paralyzed and frightened.
Now let’s be honest. There are many things adults are scared of as well. For some of us, it might be heights, public speaking, or snakes. For others, it can be the fear of failure, loosing a job, or lack of money. The fear of abandonment, a medical diagnosis, or an uncertain future can be just as frightening for an adult as a storm is for a child. These fears lurk as monsters under our beds. And in the middle of the night, when the lights are out and we hear them making noises, our hearts start crying out “What will I do? How is this ever going to work out? What if this happens?”
A few weeks ago, our pastor began a sermon series that focuses on the life of Caleb. This past week, we looked at Numbers 13-14 when Moses sent twelve men to explore Canaan. They all came back speaking of a beautiful, fruitful land, but ten men focused on the giants in the land and spoke in fear. The other two, Caleb and Joshua, recognized those challenges, yet their focus was on God. They confidently reminded the Israelites that “the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them.” (Numbers 14:9b, NIV) In Joshua 14, we see the result of this faith when Caleb receives both the inheritance of the land promised by God as well as a blessing from Joshua.
Countless times, the Bible tells us to not be afraid or be frightened. This does not mean there isn’t a threat of danger. Usually, from a human perspective, there is! There is something in our life that we are afraid of! God tells us not to be frightened because, like a father talking to his child who is afraid of a thunderstorm, God is reminding us that he is with us and understands the storms of life better than we do. In Isaiah 41:10, our Abba Father lovingly reminds us:
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous hand. (Isaiah 41:10 NIV)
Whether imagined or real, our fears signal to us that we feel a threat of danger. So when faced with these feelings of danger, who do I call out to? Do I respond more like the frightened ten, paralyzed in fear thinking only about the giants in the land? Or, do I call out to my heavenly Father, placing my trust and future in him, who truly is bigger and more powerful than any monster under my bed?