Faith, Fear and their Relationship

 

By Pastor Claude Cummings, III

He Heard My Cry Christian Fellowship Church

Matthew 14:25-31

HOUSTON – I have a fear! The name of my fear is Acrophobia. When I discuss my fear of heights, someone in the room will usually raise their hand and quote II Timothy 1:7 “God did not give us a spirit of fear”. 

 I am often quick to remind such people, “God did not give us diabetes or high blood pressure, but they exist.”  Many people live with physical ailments like diabetes and high blood pressure and if these ailments go untreated, they become life threatening. 

However, if managed properly, they will not prevent you from living a long and productive life.  Fear, a spiritual ailment, if not treated properly is a threat to our spiritual health.  The good news is, just as we are able to manage our physical ailments, our spiritual ailments, such as fear, are also manageable.

A display of fear in the eyes of many Christians demonstrates a lack of faith and we know that a lack of faith displeases God (Hebrews 11:6).  In today’s scripture as the disciples obeyed the command given to them by Jesus Christ, they encountered fear.  Jesus did not rebuke the disciples because they became fearful. 

On the contrary, Jesus comforted them when they displayed fear (v. 27 be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid).  What is the relationship between faith and fear and how can our fears be managed?

Antidote for Fear

Fear serves a purpose. Its purpose is to remind us to walk by faith and not by sight (II Corinthians 5:7).  Oftentimes, we focus on the negative aspects of fear and we ignore the opportunity fear presents to strengthen our relationship with Christ. With that in mind, the cure for fear is faith.  As the disciples took sail, their future was uncertain.  Although many of the disciples were fisherman, we can reasonably conclude they never encountered a spirit walking on water (they became fearful). Ultimately, it was their demonstration of faith that drew them closer to Christ and calmed their fear.  Faith serves purpose.  Faith’s purpose is to encourage us to trust Christ when we experience fear.

Acknowledge your Fear

Why should we acknowledge our fears?  Christ acknowledged the disciples’ fear.  People, with their best intentions in mind, attempt to comfort us by saying things like “there is nothing to be afraid of”.  In actuality, fear is real.  The fear the disciples experienced was not a figment of their imagination.  Their fear was so potent that it captured Christ’s attention.  After Christ acknowledged their fear, the disciples were able to dismiss their fear and focus on Christ.  By faith, Peter shared with God his heart’s desire (v.28).  Out of fear, Peter begin to sink, and Christ rebuked him.  An acknowledgement of fear is nothing more than an occasion to exhibit your faith.  Fear gives us the opportunity to exercise our faith by focusing on Christ and dismissing our fear (vv. 31-32).

Amount of Faith

How much faith is enough faith?  Mustard seed size faith is enough to overcome any fear.  If you have molehill fear or mountain size fear, mustard seed size faith is all that is required.  If the size of your fear is greater than the size of your faith, spiritual death is inevitable.  Possessing the minimum amount of faith meets all the requirements to manage the maximum amount of fear.

Although the disciples were fearful, they did not turn around and go in the opposite direction. They displayed enough faith to obey Christ and follow his command.  As this article is being written, the Unites States Government is in the middle of a partial government shutdown.  The future for many Americans is uncertain and the result of that uncertainty is fear. Now more than ever, allow your faith to draw you closer to Christ.  Even in the midst of our fears, the spirit of God is always present to comfort us.

I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.  Psalm 34:4.