Devotions for the office “Fear” 1/4
On Friday 27th March 2020, our office shut its doors like many many others as a precaution against the spread of the Coronavirus that cause the disease covid-19. Many many things to write about this whole experience another time, but I embarked on an experiment to live stream the week’s devotions, themed on “fear” for my team mates. Some were able to join, others were not. I was asked if I could share the text from the devotions. I am not a theologian, nor have I been to Bible college, I am not a reverend nor a pastor and I don’t claim to understand all the mysteries of the Bible. These are my thoughts and no-one else’s and should not be interpreted as representing the views of any organisation I am associated with. This is part 1 of 4 originally shared on Monday 30th March 2020
This is day one of working from home for many of us. Today we were supposed to be starting 2 days of meetings involving the project teams and the technical domains. The walls in the main room in the office would have been down, we’d have all been sat around some tables. Sunny would have probably just sung a song to encourage everyone to come and take a seat, but instead we are all at home.
Many folks have been wondering for the past week what it is going to be like, asking questions like “How will we cope? How will we be able to feed everyone? What about church? What will I do all day? Will me and my family stay healthy? How will we do the integrated program planning like we have been talking about for two years if we can’t meet together anymore? That last one might just be me!
A lot of people across the entire earth have been asking very similar questions in their situations and often those questions come from a place of fear. There is a LOT of fear around at the moment and so I want to explore our response to fear, what the Bible has to say about fear and where does faith fit into that. I think fear can come in 2 categories. There is irrational fear and rational fear.
Here is an example to help us understand the difference.
When someone gets edgy or irritated or scared because they have heard about a particular snake that exists somewhere on the planet and they decide never to leave their house again, it is an irrational fear. They have become debilitated, unable to live life fully because of that fear.
When someone else back up and moves away when they encounter the snake on a path, is a rational fear. They may not be able to continue on that path, but they are able to process and make decisions, take an action and carry on.
The Bible has a lot to say about fear. There are so many verses that tell us ” Do not be afraid” or “Do not fear”, there are more than 1 for every day of the year.
If you are curious – head to this link. https://believersportal.com/list-365-fear-not-bible-verses/ It has some examples.
I want us to look into one occasion where Jesus reminds us not to fear. Turn with me to Mark 4:35-41 – I’m going to read from the New Living Translation.
Jesus Calms the Storm
35 As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” 36 So they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed). 37 But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water. 38 Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?” 39 When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. 40 Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” 41 The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!”
There are many things about this passage that fascinate me. I’ve never owned a boat, but a cushion is probably not the first thing I would think to pack, they are horrible when they get wet. The other thing that strikes me here, is that the disciples’ fear is valid and rational. They were pro fishermen, they knew the boat, they knew the waters, they knew they were in trouble, they thought that was it, they were going to die. They didn’t ask Jesus IF he thought they were in trouble and going to drown, they were all completely convinced, they couldn’t see a way out of it. We know they were afraid, because Jesus replied to them when it was all calm and asked why they were afraid. So stop there for a minute. Jesus rectified the situation before he rebuked the disciples. He dealt with their immediate need before challenging their lack of faith.
Jesus doesn’t ever say “Get over it, you are just being silly”. God has an amazing ability to take us where we are at and deal with us. He never thinks we are silly or stupid, but I think that, a bit like this incident with the disciples, he is constantly surprised by our lack of faith. He is trustworthy and we can put our faith in him. We’ll look at trust and faith on Thursday.
You see there is a relationship between faith and fear. Dan is at home doing school and he has a math class and to use mathematical terminology, Fear and Faith have an “inversely proportional relationship”. As one increases, the other decreases. When our faith grows, our fear shrinks. Faith is to believe in something, and, it is like a universal rule, because we all believe in something. Let me give you a couple of examples.
When I go to the zoo and see the lions in the cage, I am not afraid because I believe, I have faith, that the cage will contain them. The first time I went, I wasn’t so sure, the lions were big and would roar and I didn’t yet understand the strength of the cage, but over time, I understood the cage and believed it would contain them and I was no longer afraid.
When I drive my car, I drive in a way and at a speed that is equal to my belief, my faith, that the brakes will work to stop the car in time. (bad car = lower speed!) Sometimes as a passenger I’m afraid because I don’t believe the car will stop, the driving exceeds my belief!
When we as Christians talk about faith, we are referring to believing in God the Father, Jesus Christ his son, and the Holy Spirit, the Godhead three-in-one or the Trinity as many people call it.
So, when we are feeling fearful about something, no matter if we consider it rational or irrational, we need to consider what we have faith in, who we believe in. Remember the greater our faith the lower our fear. We need to remind ourselves that we wbelieve in a God who created the universe. A God who knows how many hairs are on our heads (easier for some than others!). A God who knitted us together in our mother’s wombs, a God who has overcome death and hell. It is reminding ourselves of the many many truths in scripture that will reduce the fears we are experiencing especially at this time.
Here is the take away.
Faith is the birthing point of hope and hope is the opposite of fear. The greater our understanding of who God is, the greater our faith. The greater our faith, the greater our hope. The greater our hope, the less our fear. An increase in faith means a decrease in fear. Our fears can be countered with Biblical truth.
Personally, I’m afraid that we will never be able to do planning for Financial Year 2021, it is impossible. But the Bible says in Luke 18:27 “He replied, “What is impossible for people is possible with God.”
It brings me hope that we will find a way, somehow.
Find some time today, maybe a few minutes now if you can, grab a pen and paper and ask God to reveal to you what fears you are experiencing. Do some research and ask a friend for help if you want and like my example above, find some scriptures that remind you of who God is in a way that counters that fear.