If you look at different surveys about people’s greatest fears, you see some common responses.
People are afraid of public speaking. They are afraid of snakes, spiders, sharks. They fear the dark and fear death. Surveys also show that people are sometimes afraid of the future.
A new Lifeway Research poll indicated that a majority of pastors have “a growing sense of fear within their congregations about the future of the nation and world.” In fact, one survey indicated nearly three out of every four church members have this form of fear.
While these fears may not necessarily be unfounded, they do indicate that people—even believers—are prone toward worry and fear. How can we face our fears better?
One popular claim says that the phrase “Fear Not” appears 365 times in the Bible—one for every day of the year. While that calculation does not appear to be true, the sentiment behind it is comforting.
One of the most famous utterances of the phrase “fear not” in the Bible took place during the first Christmas, near Bethlehem.
Luke 2:8-11 says:
“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.’”
The appearance of angels has led others to tremble (e.g., Daniel, Zecheriah), and these shepherds were no different. Yet the angel had “good news of great joy” to cast out their fear.
God does not want His people to be marked by fear, and Jesus Himself is the antidote to fear. The Apostle Paul said, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Tim. 1:7).
Is there something today that’s making you afraid? Perhaps you have fear over a broken relationship, a health issue, finances, current events around the world or even just a general worry about the future.
The late pastor Adrian Rogers said, “Stop telling God how big your storm is. Instead, tell the storm how big your God is.”
Rogers added, “Worry looks at God through circumstances. Peace looks at circumstances through God.”
When we are afraid, we must recall God’s love and recall what we know to be true. Christmas is a fitting time to reflect on God’s goodness to us in the Lord Jesus, a time to redirect our heart’s focus toward Him.
The Bible says, “In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:4-5).
This Christmas, let’s each embrace Jesus more fully and embrace the truth behind these two powerful words: “Fear not.”