Thought for the Month (August 2010)

At Rusthall we have just learnt a new song – it's called 'I once was frightened of spiders'. It has lovely, funny words, a catchy tune and a serious message. (It's in Songs of Fellowship number 822 if you want to look it up.)

Obviously it's a song aimed particularly at children because many of the 'frightening' things mentioned in the song are the sort of things children are often scared of, eg the dark, things that bark, bang, blow – dogs, thunder, wind. As a child I remember being frightened of the noises our house used to make at night when it was cooling down after the heat of the day. For most of us as we grow we learn that these things cannot harm us and some of them are probably more scared of us than we are of them – spiders for one!

Teenagers have a whole different set of fears – am I too fat/thin? – am I pretty/handsome? -will I be popular? – will I get a boyfriend/girlfriend?

As we get older our fears become more 'grown up' – now it's the fear of losing our job, not having enough money to pay the rent/mortgage, illness, losing a loved one, getting old.

Of course, there are people for whom these fears get out of hand and whose whole life can be profoundly affected. Some people develop a fear of going outside – agoraphobia –which can seriously affect them and prevent them from doing many of the ordinary things the rest of us take for granted.

The Bible mentions fear quite a lot – recognising that, after we lost that special relationship with God which was meant to make us feel safe and secure, we automatically became more fearful. What actually happened was that we exchanged one sort of fear for another. We swapped a fear that is right for one that was not meant to be.

So what sort of fear could possibly be right?

We were meant to fear God, but not in a nail biting, knee-knocking, hide yourself away sense. This fear is a deep reverence or respect for a powerful God who loves us completely.

How can we get that fear back? The only way is to get re-acquainted with God, to get to know Him again. Only then will we develop that reverence and respect that He deserves.

The disciples were ordinary people just like us and would have had fears about similar sorts of things – work would have been less secure in those days, illness presented all sorts of problems with no health service to call on – all in all life would have been far more precarious, lived as it was under Roman rule. During the time they spent with Jesus they must have heard Him say so many times 'Fear not' - both to themselves and to others.

In Mark's gospel chapter 5 vv 21-43 we read the account of Jairus coming to Jesus to ask him to come and heal his daughter. Unfortunately, because there was a delay, Jairus' daughter died before Jesus got there. Jesus' words show the link between faith and fear – He says to Jairus 'Do not fear, only believe.' What he's saying is 'You came to me because you believed I could help you. Although the situation has changed, I haven't.'

The fears of this life crowd around us, dragging us down – some more than others but Jesus still says 'I haven't changed. You know me. Don't be afraid. Have faith in me.' Jairus is called on to trust his knowledge of Jesus as a person. It's the same for us. The better we know our God, the more we shall be able to trust Him and the less room there will be for fear in our lives. The better we know our God the deeper will be our fear (reverence, respect) for Him and that is the beginning of wisdom. (Psalm 111 v 10).

God bless you all.

Jacqui Ferdinando

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Tunbridge Wells United Reformed Church