THE MOST FREQUENT COMMAND IN THE BIBLE: DO NOT BE AFRAID by James Faris for Core Christianity
How many times I quoted Psalm 56:3 to myself as a child, I do not know: “When I am afraid, I will trust in you.” Children have fears, and we all come to learn that fear keeps creeping into our hearts regardless of our age or stage in life. How can Christians effectively battle fear?
The Lord even had to come to the Apostle Paul in a vision by night to remind him “Do not be afraid” when Paul was in Corinth (Acts 18:9). Strikingly, the Lord comes to Paul at the zenith of his early ministry in Corinth as recorded in Acts 18:8 “And many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized.” If Paul was so successful, why was he fearful? And what can we learn from his experience to equip us to fight fear in our hearts?
Here are a few of the factors that might have inclined Paul towards fearfulness in the heart of his second missionary journey. They are all factors that we experience in some measure:
Paul had left Luke in Philippi and Timothy and Silas in Berea. He did meet up with other believers in Corinth, like Aquila and Priscilla, and Silas and Timothy would catch up with Paul later in Corinth, but he came to the city without his ministry partners (Acts 18:1-2). We all know how loneliness and separation can lead us to be fearful.
Paul had been driven out of city after city from Philippi to Athens, and at this stage in his ministry, he wondered, for instance, if the saints in Thessalonica had been carried away from the faith by the tempter (1 Thess. 3:5). In our own lives, fear of the unknown often leads us to paralysis.
The Lord directed Paul to go to Macedonia in a prior vision (Acts 16:6-10), and the wind was in his sails, literally and figuratively as he took the gospel there (Acts 16:11). But, the word of God was often rejected, and in some cases few responded. Paul later reminded the Corinthians that he was with them in weakness, fear, and much trembling (1 Cor. 2:3). It seems that Paul was like a balloon that had been inflated but was not “tied off” to keep the air inside. He was let go and the air propelled him from Troas to fly through Macedonia and Achaia, but now he had lost steam and was deflated in Corinth. When we feel as though we have failed, doubts so easily beset us.