The Right Kind of Fear
What scares you the most? Maybe it’s losing all your money. Or maybe it’s being diagnosed with some fatal disease. Whatever it is, we all struggle with fear. Being the good Father that He is, our God speaks to fear often in His Word. In fact, He tells us not to fear more than one hundred times in the Bible. Let us focus on one of those episodes.
One of the greatest miracles recorded in the Gospels is Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand. When He provided this supernatural repast, it came after a long, hard day of ministry. Afterward, Jesus served His labor-weary disciples by sending them across the lake while He dismissed the crowds (Mark 6:45). Despite being exhausted Himself, He went back to work—the work of prayer (v. 46). Evening came, and the disciples found themselves on the Sea of Galilee in the midst of a violent storm. They had every reason to fear.
But then, another miracle happened. Jesus came walking on the sea in the middle of the night. Mark records that Jesus “meant to pass by them” (v. 48). Why would Jesus do that? Didn’t He care about their dire plight? Of course He cared. The minute the disciples caught sight of Him, they were terrified, but He told them not to be afraid (v. 50). He climbed into the boat, and at once the whitened crests of the churning, dark sea around them become as smooth as a mirror (v. 51).
This incident teaches us at least two things. First, it teaches us about our fears. We fear the wrong things. Why did Jesus mean to pass them by? Because, as the God-man, He knew the disciples would arrive safely on the other side. He knew no storm would thwart His sovereign plan to continue His mission of discipleship with them. The problem was that the disciples failed to see Jesus for who He was. Therefore, they were afraid with a wrong kind of fear.
The same kind of wrong fear will grip our lives if we think like the disciples. Fear looks to the waves; faith looks to the God who made the waves. Fear looks at what is right in front of it; faith looks up to the One who knows how to direct every situation in our lives to serve His sovereign ends, which are always good.
Second, we learn here that there is a right kind of fear. It is the fear of awe and adoration. Once Jesus was in the boat, the disciples were afraid, but they began to learn a new kind of fear, a sweet fear. It is the fear we must all learn: the fear of the Lord. Fear of the waves makes us anxious and depressed. Fear of the Lord of the waves leads to worship and perseverance in our most difficult trials. Are we more afraid of the storm, or have we learned the only kind of fear that can silence all other fears?