When it comes to giving comfort and counsel, most people need some work.
You’ve just experienced a terrible loss and your heart is in pieces. It feels like your whole world has come crashing down around you, and the tears are flowing uncontrollably. Then a well-meaning friend walks up, puts her arm around you, and says, “Don’t be sad.”
Oh, okay. Well, since you told me not to be, I guess I won’t. Thanks for that.
You’re fuming mad. Your blood pressure is through the roof and steam is coming out of your ears. Then, with nothing but good intentions, someone tells you, “Don’t be angry.”
AAAAARGH! What do you mean, “Don’t be angry”? Now I’m even angrier! HULK SMAAAASH!!!
For some reason, we think that the best thing to tell someone who’s feeling some pretty intense emotions (and feeling them for good reason!) is to just tell them not to feel what they’re feeling. At best, this kind of “advice” is unhelpful. At worst, it’s patronizing and offensive.
Jesus offered some counsel that seems, on the surface, to fit into this category. One day, He told a guy, “Don’t be afraid.”
This man had come to Jesus, literally on his hands and knees begging for the life of his dying daughter. He was terrified of losing her. He was desperate. I’m sure the spark of hope was kindled in his heart when this great Healer and Prophet that he’d heard so much about lifted him up off the ground and said, “Let’s go.”
But that hope was soon extinguished when the messenger met them on the way and delivered the crushing news: “Your daughter is dead.”
As he’s sinking into the pit of dread and despair…as his soul is being assaulted by the horrible prospect of burying his baby…as everything he fears is coming to fruition, he hears Jesus say, “Don’t be afraid.”
If the Lord had just left it there, this would have been the cruelest kind of counsel. To advise someone to do something they can’t possibly do. To tell a person what to do without giving them any inkling as to how it could be done.
But Jesus didn’t leave it there. He added, “Just believe!”
If fear is the disease, it’s not enough to simply say, “Don’t be sick anymore.” That’s not helpful. That won’t do you any good. What you need is for someone to give you the cure.
The antidote to fear is faith, and faith is simply a matter of focus.
Fear usually focuses on the deficiencies in and around you.
…on what your weaknesses and limitations are.
…on what you’ve seen and heard that scares and intimidates you.
…on what you’ve got coming to you because of your mistakes and failures.
…on what you won’t be able to do and what you don’t have enough of.
…on what you know you don’t really deserve, so you’ve taught yourself to not even expect it.
Fear is all about you, you, you.
But faith takes the focus off of you and puts it back where it belongs: on God.
…on how awesome and able He is!
…on how He’s never broken a promise or failed to follow through on a single word He’s said!
…on His mercies that are new every morning and His love that has no limits!
…on His ability to multiply even the most meager resources and turn a little into a lot!
…on His amazing grace that freely gives you what you haven’t earned!
Faith is all about Him, Him, Him!
“Don’t be afraid” sounds easier said than done. But once you master the “just believe” part, you’ll realize it was almost easier done than said. Fear can’t reside where faith abides. Profoundly simple and simply profound.
The very essence of faith is focusing upward instead of inward or outward. Shift your focus, and you defeat your fear.
This really hit home with me and my lack luster faith at times thank you for the encouraging and inspiring word.