Fighting fear with fear

Smiling at the Future Series – #3.

In volatile times, what can keep us smiling at the future in such a way that our laughter actually ushers in the good we anticipate?

I’d suggest: Fight fear with fear.

The fear of the Lord

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Proverbs 23:17-18 urges: “Always be zealous for the fear of the Lord. There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.”

Indeed, a Proverbs 31 woman “can laugh at the days to come” because she “fears the Lord” (Prov. 31: 25, 30).

In Old Testament days, both Isaiah and David learned to fight fear of what lay ahead with the fear of the Lord.

The prophet Isaiah wrote, “The Lord spoke to me with his strong hand upon me, warning me not to follow the way of this people. He said: ‘Do not call conspiracy everything that these people call conspiracy; do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it. The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread, and he will be a sanctuary …’” (Isa. 8:11-14 NIV 1985).

The shepherd-king David sang, “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them … Fear the Lord, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing” (Psalm 34:7,9).

How astounding! How delightful! As we learn to fear God, he himself surrounds us.

I do not understand and cannot explain the fear of the Lord. However, it’s not living in terror of God as you would of an abusive or authoritarian father – for people living in that kind of fear do not smile at the future. Further, fearing the Lord is not the same as trusting God or loving God, yet is closely linked with both.

The fear of the Lord keeps us from buddying up to God, as if the two of us were peers. It keeps us from treating him like a servant – acting as if he exists solely to make our lives more comfortable, expecting him to come like an errand boy when called.

The fear of the Lord at once distances us from God and draws us into him. It constantly, clearly, reminds us that he is entirely “other than” and infinitely “far above”: He is eternally self-existent. He is Creator of a universe so vast and so infinitesimally complex that we cannot begin to comprehend it. He is the Righteous Judge, “the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light” (1 Tim. 6:15-16).

All the satanic hordes inciting a world full of rebellious people cannot diminish the Lord one iota, nor thwart even one of his plans. According to Psalm 2:1-4, when entire nations plot together to vilify the Lord, when they refer to his rule as “chains” and “fetters” and conspire to overthrow him, “the One enthroned in heaven laughs.”

As we treat this Lord with the healthy awe and high honor that he alone can teach us, Spirit-to-spirit, something incredible happens. He himself encamps around us. He himself becomes “a sanctuary [a sacred and indestructible asylum to those who reverently fear and trust in Him]” (Isa. 8:14 AMP).

In the safety of that Sanctuary, we too can laugh at the days to come.


Smiling at the Future Series

Can laughter be a strategy for victory in a volatile season?

This series is adapted from the Key Truths e-column, “Smiling Just Thinking About It.” © Deborah P. Brunt 2008, 2014. All rights reserved.

Posts in this series:

Smiling at the Future

Seeing a Future Hope

Fighting Fear with Fear

Living in Two Worlds

Smiling Just Thinking About It

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