You’ve probably heard it said before that ‘do not be afraid’ is said 365 times in the Bible. Imagine my disappointment when I realized that this was not the case. After further researching that fact, I came across the truth. That phrase is only used a little over eighty times.
The meme artist who created that internet musing, for some reason, decided to make a random guess and lie to his dear fellow Christians. Yes, he was wrong.
But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that he had some truth in his words.
Sure, the exact words may not be seen that many times in the Bible, but the truth behind them is.
What if we applied the courage we’ve seen over and over again in the Word to our own lives? What if, one morning, we woke up completely unafraid because we knew that God was on our side? How different would the world be then?
A famous quote caught my attention when I was researching. “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” (Nelson Mandela)
Sometimes God uses the most fearful people in this life for His good. He uses them, the brokenhearted, weary sinners, to fulfill His plan.
Take Moses, for example. After killing an Egyptian slave-driver, he fled into the desert. This man did not intend on returning to the wealthy land of Egypt- because he was afraid of what his adoptive family might do.
When the Lord asked for Moses to return to Egypt to free his people, Moses did not want to go. He begged of the Lord to choose someone else- someone worthy.
“O Lord, I am not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied and my words get tangled.” (Exodus 4:10)
Moses was afraid.
He was afraid that he could never succeed in God’s plan. He was afraid that his adoptive brother might hurt him. He was afraid because he did not want to return to Egypt. There have also been discussions about the verse I quoted above. Some theologians proclaim that Moses had an issue with stuttering.
He may have. Which means that he was also afraid of people making fun of his words- or lack thereof.
And so he begged God to relieve him of this duty- asking for Him to choose someone else.
How did God respond to this?
“Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go. I will help you speak and teach you what to say.” (Exodus 4:11)
The Lord is telling Moses that He will be with him every step of the way- guiding him and helping him to know what to say. He is telling Moses that the excuses he makes are small compared to what the Lord can do.
And this is the same God who commands you to be fearless in Joshua 1:9.
“Have I not commanded you?” He asks us. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged. For I, the Lord, will be with you wherever you go.”
I am not telling you to get a grip on your life and never be afraid. In fact, it is perfectly alright to be afraid. Fear is a human emotion- something used to express our hearts deepest desires.
Jesus was afraid.
In Luke 22, Jesus went into the garden -right before He was handed over to the crowd- and prayed, begging his Father to withdraw this cup of suffering. It says that His sweat was like drops of blood.
Hematidrosis is actually a rare condition where blood is expelled through your sweat pores. It is caused by extreme physical or mental stress and is usually activated by severe mental anxiety or, as I like to put it, fear.
Jesus, the savior of this world, was so terrified of what was to come that He sweat blood. He asked for God to find another way, but also accepted his Father’s plan.
An angel was sent down from heaven to give Jesus strength to face His fear.
God doesn’t ask us to not be afraid. He asks us to realize that He is bigger than that fear. Over and over again, the Bible shows people full of fear. But whenever those people trust God, He always comes through.
You are going to be afraid because we live in a scary, terrifying world. But we don’t have to face anything alone. No matter what we go through, God will always be there.
We should be fearless 365 days out of a year. Not because some meme tells us that God says ‘do not be afraid’ 365 times. But rather, because through our lives, the lives of the Bible characters, and through the lives of those around us, proves to us that fear has no hold on those who hold onto the right hand of God.
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)
No matter what you go through tomorrow, I want you to remember that, though fear may take control of you, you can trust God to take control of that fear. He’s right there waiting to help you.
All you need to do is ask.