Theologian N.T. Wright states in his book “Following Jesus:”
“Do you know what the most frequent command in the Bible turns out to be? What do you think – “Be good”? or “don’t sin”?
No. The most frequent command in the Bible is: “Don’t be afraid.”
Fear not….The irony of this surprising command is that, though it’s what we all really want to hear, we have as much difficulty, if not more, in obeying this command as any other. We all cherish fear so closely that we find we can’t shed it even when we’re told to do so”.
If I Perish, I Perish
Last weekend I attended a women’s gathering at my church in D.C. We gathered together for food, fellowship, and teaching.
One of the women in our church shared an excerpt from Beth Moore’s teaching on the Book of Esther. You know those times when you aren’t expecting God to speak to you and He does? Yeah, it was one of those times for me!
Beth shared that when Esther was told about the situation her people were facing, she had a choice to make. She could either go in and face the King, requesting that he put a stop to the edict to destroy her people, OR she could do nothing, hoping that someone else would intervene.
She makes it clear in Esther 4:11 that if she went into his court without being summoned, it was a law to be put to death – unless the king holds out his golden scepter so that person might live. Death was the rule for this breach in conduct; the golden scepter was the exception.
Her uncle Mordecai makes it pretty clear to Esther what will transpire: “Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
Beth shared, “What was it that happened to Esther between verses 11 and 14 of this chapter?” “What caused her to move from a place to fear to the place where she could say, “If I perish, I perish”?
Not Denying the Fear, But Denying It’s Authority
Beth goes on to say, “There is no denial in courage. You look flat in the face of it (your fear) and don’t deny it’s reality but deny it’s victory over you.”
We live in a culture that propagates fear at every turn. Chapman University did a study on America’s Top Fears in 2015, which revealed the top two fears of Americans are Corruption of Government Officials and Cyber-Terrorism.
It’s an interesting study, but I would venture to say that while the “Daily Life” or “Personal Anxieties” lists were lower on the fear todum-pole, these are often the ones that can paralyze us the most.
Whether your biggest fear right now is dying of cancer or being ridiculed by others, the fear itself isn’t what matters the most – it’s whether you will choose to face it.
Like every human being, I have a few doozies that can paralyze me with anxiety at times. But I have a choice each day (and so do you!) whether I will face the reality of my fears and trust Christ with them.
Who knows that, like Esther, facing our greatest fear may open up the most important opportunity of our lifetimes thus far? God alone knows the ripple effects that our choice today will have on the lives around us – maybe even on generations to come.
As Mordecai said, “Who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
It is a great comfort that whatever we may face – we are not alone. Christ is with us. He will walk with us as we face our greatest fears:
“Fear not, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes I will help you. I will hold you up with my righteous right hand.” – Isaiah 41:10
Choose not to remain paralyzed any longer. Choose to face your fears in the power of Christ. Only God knows the victory that may await you on the other side!