Understanding Holy Courage, Embracing Godly Fear

Day 1 of 5 • This day’s reading


When Fear is Big

My youngest son recently came to my room trembling. It was late—long past his bedtime—but the tone of his voice told me this was not a ploy to delay bedtime; not this time, anyway. “Mama,” he said, “do I need to go to the doctor?” I had no idea what he was talking about, so I willed my tired self to engage. “What’s wrong, buddy?” I asked.

Words failed him. He simply held up his hand to show me instead. And there it was—one large top hat cymbal from his Christmas drum set, lodged tightly on his chubby, six-year-old finger. 

If the mental picture is funny, know that the reality of it was equally so. Except, not to my son. He was scared. Really scared. I’m not sure if he imagined this cymbal-ring becoming a permanent fixture, or perhaps a doctor extracting it from his hand, but it was no laughing matter to him. It was real. And serious. And scary.

And that’s how it goes when we’re frightened, isn’t it? Sure, the subject of our fears may differ. All grown up and mature, we might trade a cymbal-ring for the state of our economy, the growing disconnect with our spouse or kids, the global threat of violence, of disaster, or just being alone. But they all play out the same way in our bodies, our minds, and our souls, don’t they?

A well-meaning friend may tell you to keep your chin up. A social-media influencer might tell you to fix your ponytail and carry on. But how effective is any of that? When our concerns are legitimate and the cure feels evasive, isn’t there a solution more foundational, more certain than good posture and good hair?

Of course there is. The living and active Word reminds us repeatedly that wisdom and knowledge, the peace we are hungry for when fear churns heavy inside us begins with the fear of the Lord (Provers 9:10). The answer to our horizontal fear is actually vertical; a  healthy fear of the only One worthy.

Thinking back on that late-night exchange with my young son, I wonder how long he waited. I wonder how much time he spent struggling in this predicament on his own, attempting to fix it on his own, avoiding having to tell me, alone.

That feels familiar, friend. And just as my son had parents ready and willing to come to his aid, ready to listen, ready to help, we have a Father who is every bit as near.

If you have never pondered what it means to fear the Lord, now is a great time to start. What does it mean to fear Him and why are we called to do so? Look to Proverbs 1:7, Psalm 2:11, 1 Peter 2:17, and Acts 13:26 to get started. I’m convinced He’s more than ready for our conversation here.