Fear and Faith
I was very much afraid, but I said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?”
- Nehemiah 2:2-3
In today’s passage, Nehemiah feels strong fear. He’s about to give the king of the Persian empire a blunt nudge and make a huge request of him. If Nehemiah does this poorly, he will lose his job and possibly his life. The repercussions of this conversation will affect every Jew in Persia and Judea. Can you see why Nehemiah was “very much afraid”?
Fear has to come with us sometimes. Fear is not the absence of faith. Even the faithful feel fear. Fear can serve us well, pushing us onto the path toward wisdom. But fear makes a terrible master.
When we follow Jesus he does sometimes lead us into situations that can make us afraid, but he will also lead us through them if we continue to follow him. Faith says: “I will not let fear determine my destiny.”
With God’s help we move forward with wisdom even in the midst of fear. We take one step after another. We follow and follow and follow. We fix our eyes on Jesus. The fears don’t go away, but they do settle into a bigger scene. The things that make us afraid don’t exist in isolation from the One who fills us with faith.
Nehemiah’s willingness to engage the king despite the fear showed a depth of courageous faith. Who knows how long or how Nehemiah cultivated the faith-resources he would need to move forward? In the critical moment, he had the faith he would need to courageously leap over his fear.
How do faith and fear interplay in your life? When have you experienced the Lord helping you to move forward in the midst of fear? When have you seen that in someone else?