First, there is no quick fix for fear. This is not like a physical vaccine that once injected immediately begins to work and in a few days you are immune to it. This is a longer process. It takes time. Some will say that we should say things like “Have no fear.” Or remind ourselves that the Bible tells us “be not afraid”. This is all true but this alone is not an antidote to fear! And God’s way of battling fear is longer-term than the repetition of a few phrases. On the local newscast a psychologist was talking about ways to reduce anxiety and mental stress. His advice: speak to ourselves everyday with certain thoughts. For instance we should say to ourselves, “We did not die yesterday!” Not sure how good that will help. A true worrier replies: “Yes, but today is a new day!” Simply stating things like this only goes so far. The unknown is still out there. There is something more solid out there than just telling yourself, have no fear!
Second, God has a more solid plan than simply reminding ourselves that we should not be afraid. For example I have heard many people try to help fearful people by telling them that God tells us not to be afraid hundreds of times in the Bible. These folks feel that the antidote to fear is simply to be reminded that God says, “be not afraid”! But fear is a more resilient enemy than this. It demands a mightier weapon and greater strategy!
Third, when God encourages us not to be afraid hundreds of times, He is speaking to those who have personally trusted in God. This is critical. These verses are not spoken generically to anyone who happens to read them. If one denies God and refuses to trust in Jesus as their Lord and Savior, then they will not receive any comfort from that same God unless they repent and trust in Jesus for forgiveness. If we are not careful, we may give people a false sense of peace and security. The promises to not fear flow through Jesus Christ to those who are Christians. If you are without repentance of sins and faith in Jesus, God in fact warns you to be very afraid so that you might not fall under judgment (“fear Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” Matt 10:28).
Fourth, when God says, “do not be afraid” He is not suggesting that nothing tragic will ever happen to us or that all trials will be removed and no stress will befall you in life. Throughout the Bible God allows tragedies and trials to fall hard on His own children (Job, Naomi, David, Peter, Paul and countless others in history). God has stated that all those who desire to live godly in Christ will in fact suffer persecution (2 Tim 3:16). God’s way of battling fear is not then freedom from stress and trouble. This will not happen till Jesus returns. It means something entirely different. God frees us from the fear of being lost for our sins in the future and being forever loved by Him. It does not limit our hardships.
God does not say do not be afraid because there will be no more trouble. He says, “Do not be afraid” because He has already taken care of the greatest threat to us and because He will not let us be lost regardless of the trouble upon us.