The Bible records these words almost 100 times from Genesis 15 (God to Abram) through Revelation 2 (God to the church in Smyrna). There are several famous exchanges that we easily remember: an angel to the shepherds at Jesus’ birth, an angel to the women after the resurrection of Christ, and an angel to Paul on the ship as he travelled to Rome. Many times, the word of God came to individuals in times of stress with this simple encouragement: Do not be afraid.
There are so many frightening aspects of today’s world, perhaps an Old Testament story will remind us of an important lesson. With God’s help, Elisha had been aiding Israel’s war effort, and the king of Aram had sent soldiers to capture the prophet of God. When Elisha’s servant awoke the next day, the town was surrounded and he cried out in fear, “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” (2 Kings 6.15). Elisha responded with two lessons for all believers:
- V16 – “Don’t be afraid. Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
- v17 – Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.”
We are not alone! Fear is more likely to creep into our thinking when we give in to the idea that we are fighting by ourselves. Fear is one of Satan’s most powerful weapons against Christ-followers. Fear breeds anxiety, fear encourages short-term thinking, fear often causes us to make bad decisions. When we give in to fear, we lose our focus on (and our trust in) God. Elisha’s servant assumed that the enemy surrounding the town was more powerful than his master. Elisha simply knew better.
We must keep our eyes open to eternal truth. When we consider today’s headlines, we may assume that our cause is lost. In our doubt and fear, Satan appears to be victorious, and God appears to be absent from the struggle. In John 14, Jesus encouraged His apostles. The entire chapter is good, but in verses 1 and 27 we have these eternal words of comfort and strength: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me… Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”