Quiz question: Fill in the blank. We have nothing to fear but _____ itself. Quiz Question Number 2: Who said that? If you said, FDR, then you are right again. Then, if you pointed out that he said it in his first inaugural address, you get bonus points. Finally, if you also realized that the quote isn’t quite right, you get the Historian Honor award. The correct quote is actually this: “So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” In this season of political jargon, I think it captures some good pious mumbo jumbo quite well.
After all, what do I do with my fears of failure? Of the death of a family member? Of heights? Of the dark? Of a bad health checkup? Losing my job? And the list goes on. FDR’s quote that all I really need to fear, or to avoid, in essence, is fear itself…just doesn’t really help me when the fear I have might really be of something legitimate. I might as well just go around singing Bob Marley’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” and kiss all my fears goodbye. Nice and simple. But we know life doesn’t work that way.
In 1st Samuel 19-20, we see that David has some real big fears himself. Even after the Lord delivered him over and over through miraculous means, he slipped back into being fearful. Just like Elijah after defeating the prophets of Baal. Just like Peter after seeing Jesus in all His glory. Just like me after experiencing God’s grace and blessing in so many areas of my life. I fear often, as they did.
This passage has something significant to say about our fears. In the end, we can have peace and we can have hope and we can have victory over our fears simply because God tells us that He has bound Himself in covenant relationship to His people. As Jonathan says to David at the end of the chapter, “go in peace”, because of the safety in their covenant. And as believers, we have an even stronger covenant blessing because Christ, our Covenant Keeper, has told us that He will never leave us or forsake us. He walks through our situations that cause us fear, ever by our side.
Rev. Darol Timberlake, Assistant Pastor