Later in this same Chapter, Jesus repeats these words again, “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27) In both verses Jesus is telling us that we have control over doubt, fear, and confusion…”Do not allow (or permit) your hearts (or minds) to be troubled. (confused and/or terrified) ” He wouldn’t be telling us to do something if it wasn’t possible for us to achieve it. Now stop and read that last sentence again please! Jesus is telling us that we all have the direct influence within us to rein in and exercise restraint over fear…but it’s contingent on our trust in Him. In other words, a troubled heart is an unbelieving heart. So our success over doubt and fear lies largely in how we build our faith in God. And this confidence in Him only comes by reading the Bible and praying daily…for you can never fully trust a stranger.
The work Jesus Christ did here on earth was not some clandestine secretive mission. Rather, everything He said and did was pretty much done in the public eye. Was He ridiculed and rejected for it…Yes. Was He snubbed and scorned by the people…Yes. Was He misunderstood and mocked often…Yes. But Jesus persevered with boldness and authority…never backing down from fear of man. These Scriptures encourage us to claim that same fearlessness and courage so as to not hide our light under a bushel.
Earlier in Genesis, God had promised Abraham and Sarah a child. ” I will make you into a great nation.” (Genesis 12:2) But like most of us…they allowed fear and doubt to overshadow their hope and expectations. For in this verse, God led Abraham out into the cloudless night sky to observe the stars, (they estimate there are 1 Billion Trillion stars in our universe), and then reassured him that his offspring would be as numerous. God does this for us also. He can cause a Bible verse to suddenly become alive and take on new meaning…banishing doubt and bolstering our faith in Him. He can strip away fear and strengthen our trust by bringing into remembrance all the things He’s done for us in the past. And just like Abraham, we too can look up into that starry sky and see God’s wonder, power, and majesty…and be assured of His love and faithfulness for us.
The Jewish exiles were returning to their country from Babylon. And even though they were fearful of the foreign people around them…they went about rebuilding and re-establishing the Temple in Jerusalem. The biggest obstacle any Christian has to overcome in this world… is fear of the world. We’re afraid of what others will think…we’re scared that we might offend someone…we’re fearful we’ll be taken the wrong way. The exiles might have been afraid…but God had given them direction and His blessing, and so they started rebuilding. So when the Lord calls us to do His work, we too need to move forward boldly, not allowing fear to hinder us.
It’s part of life here on earth…trials, illness, and loss are inevitable. Jeremiah 8:15 sums it up very well how we can feel at these times, ” We hoped for peace but no good has come, for a time of healing but there was only terror.” In these fearful, confusing times we long for the light at the end of the tunnel…but all we see is darkness. “He has blocked my way so I cannot pass…” In this verse, the Hebrew word for blocked is gadar – which means to build or heap up stones to make a wall. We sometimes do feel walled in or blocked off… but know God may be also protecting you from unseen evil you know nothing about. In those dark times, we need to put all our trust in the Lord and wait for the storm to pass.
To paraphrase Isaiah 8:12-13, Do not follow the ways of the world…do not accept the world’s viewpoint…do not fear what they fear. For their fear is based on the temporal…of secular and fleshly concerns only. But as Believers, we have the blessed assurance of eternal life, so there is no fear of death its self. For it tells us in I Corinthians 15:42-44, ” So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.” The world may kill our physical body, but it can’t take our soul. For only Satan has the power to devastate both body and soul in the place of the lost and condemned.
Let’s say you land in a foreign country, having no knowledge of the city or its language. But there waiting for you is the leading dignitary. He welcomes you and then informs you that he personally will be escorting you around the city. All the pent-up fear and anxiety within would melt away as he guided you to his official car…for you would feel safe and secure with this help. The world is a scary place to live today, and we all feel like foreigners in a strange land. But God is like that dignitary…offering His hand in support and encouragement. Calming and assuring us that He is there to help. For anything can be faced with trust in the Lord…anything.