by John Myers
The opening scene of the movie “Saving Private Ryan” is perhaps 20 minutes of the most gripping filmmaking ever done.
It’s D-Day and thousands of American troops are storming the beaches of Normandy striving to get a foothold in Europe, ultimately to conquer Germany.
It is powerful for the reality of battle portrayed, particularly against a powerful foe. The gunfire as the troops disembark from the landing crafts was withering and they were being mowed down, killed and dismembered at a horrible rate.
For some, the horrendous sounds and sights of battle were too much to process and they would stop behind some obstacle and refused to move forward.
Commanders were imploring them to keep moving forward as staying in place would surely be the death of them. Fear was ruling the day for those who were frozen in place.
Fear is something every person on the planet has experienced at one time or another in their lives.
Some know that feeling as a knot in the stomach that gripped them when cancer was the diagnosis. Others feel fear when the prospect of losing a loved one becomes a reality.
And many have felt that gripping sensation of fear when losing a job, “How will I pay the mortgage, purchase food, support my family?” I could go on and on the situation after situation but let’s all agree, fear in this world is real.
Jesus had a lot to say on the topic of fear. One time while encouraging his disciples to do the work that was in front of them he said the following, “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
“Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.
“But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
“So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:28-31) Jesus understood that fear, at its very core, was a spiritual issue.
Like those soldiers on the beach in Normandy who were frozen in place because of fear, Jesus was encouraging his followers to not let fear overcome them in their mission. I think fear is perhaps the largest emotional response that is taking place in our midst throughout America right now.
There is a fear, understandable, that some have of contracting the COVID-19 virus. Some fear for their livelihood in the midst of concerns of the economy coming back – their business or their job being restored. While others, many others, fear the unknown of what tomorrow holds during this pandemic.
I knew a lady quite a few years ago who refused to leave her house, practically refused to leave her living room, because of fear.
She had had a heart attack years ago but was totally recovered now, was so fearful that she would have another that her whole world now was contained within the walls of that house. Fear has that kind of effect upon us, it can stop us from living our lives and we become enslaved by it.
“Do not fear…” Is said by Jesus in different contexts to those around him. Jesus knew that we would have to deal with fear in our lives and for that reason encourages us not to fear.
Because fear at its core is a spiritual battle, he said, that we can fight fear by reminding ourselves of spiritual truths.
Jesus said a number of times that he and God care for us, they care for every issue in our lives that we are dealing with both emotionally and physically.
He also reminded us that we should not fear because he and God are with us at all times.
It’s vital that we live knowing this truth because as the apostle Paul said, “if God is for us, who can be against us?”
And in his teaching above to his disciples he reminds them and us that he and God place great value on us.
These are strange days indeed. None of us have experienced anything like what we have gone through these past five months and fear is wanting to rear its ugly head in our lives and stop us from living.
Despite all the conflicting information and advice that is out there, much of which causes confusion for us and drives our fear, I believe it’s good to keep in mind at all times what a good antidote to fear is:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5)
The greatest weapon that we have to fight fear in our lives is to trust God.
John Myers is pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Salida.