Acts 18:9-10 One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no-one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.”
The fact that the Lord said this to Paul indicates that even Paul wasn’t immune to fear! I don’t think anyone should be ashamed of a flash of fear now and then. The problem comes when we let the fear take over, when we dwell on it and let it grow in our hearts and minds. The antidote, as Paul himself said, is not simply to choose faith, though that is essential, but “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8) You can’t counter fear with a negative: I must not be afraid. Rather, we conquer fear by filling our hearts and minds with the Word of God, first of all, and with positive things in general. The Lord here gave Paul a very big positive to think about: “I have many people in this city.” He was telling Paul there was support and fruitfulness already prepared for him. That had to be encouraging indeed!
Unlike Paul, I haven’t had much occasion to fear physical danger from opposition to my ministry. However, I have feared a lack of fruitfulness, and I have feared the devil’s tricks that have stolen away some who had already believed. Even that fear is not profitable to dwell on. I am not to “stick my head in the sand,” (though even ostriches don’t actually do that, but rather put their ear to the ground to hear approaching animals) but rather focus on God even as I am aware of the problems. As came out a few days ago, I am to be on my guard without being afraid. I have demonstrated that I don’t have the wisdom to get the job done on my own, so I am to rejoice in my total dependence on God. That’s actually the best position to be in, because the greatest human wisdom, the mightiest human strength, are as nothing compared to the wisdom and power of God. I am not to fear anything at all, even my own weaknesses, but rather rejoice in my Lord and keep myself totally available to Him.
Father, thank You for all the training You have given me in this area. Thank You for the cold I have had, to pound the point home that I’m not in control during this time of my wife’s brain surgery. (Thank you also that the cold is much better today!) Help me stay focused on You, with joy and expectation, so that all of Your plans that involve me may be fulfilled, on Your schedule and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!