Fear Versus Concern
*Thanks to our readers who’ve requested that we continue to publish articles by Jews for Jesus founder Moishe Rosen. The following was originally printed in our Newsletter in 1986, fifteen years before the 911 attacks. Ten years after those attacks, these words still ring true.
During the dark days of World War II the free world was on the edge of panic. Hitler seemed invincible. Through the blitzkrieg technique, he amassed victory after victory.
The blitzkrieg worked—not because the German bombers carried such a great load of potential destruction, nor because, as rumor had it, artillery shells would literally bounce off the German Panzer tanks. The blitzkrieg was effective because it was calculated to strike terror in the hearts of Germany’s opponents.
It was a war of nerves. Special equipment had been attached to the otherwise slow Stuka dive-bombers to produce a bone-chilling shriek as they dived. Similar whistles were also attached to the bombs themselves. Upon hearing that sound, potential victims would tend to freeze rather than run for cover. Hitler’s armies hit hard and fast in the most vulnerable and visible places, and the press was always on hand with movie cameras to show the disheartened prisoners, the decaying dead and the jovial, victorious Nazi legions.
In the face of that demoralizing psychological warfare, a statement by U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was quoted time and again. In his inaugural address in 1933 he had said, “…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 effort to convert retreat into advance.” That simple insight, which surely helped the Allies through the dark days of World War II, should reassure us as it applies equally to the spiritual warfare of the Christian life.
Hitler might have learned the blitzkrieg technique from Satan himself. That’s just the way Satan attacks God’s people. He demoralizes us. He shows his hideous strength, our horrible inadequacies, and makes himself appear invincible. The Scriptures call Satan “the father of lies.” He is the originator of the proverbial “snow job.” His tactic is to produce a storm of lies that buries us to the neck in a drift of freezing fear. Flecks of fear fly in our faces and quickly pile up until we find ourselves immobilized, too paralyzed with fear to realize that it is all a cold mirage.
Ungodly Fear vs. Christian Concern
There is a difference between ungodly fear and Christian concern. Ungodly fear—the emotion produced by Satan’s blitzkrieg—enervates. It dulls our awareness. It makes us “react” to problems that may never even arise. It robs us of peace, productivity and relationships. Finally, it robs us of God’s blessings as we deal with the real or imagined problem in our own strength rather than trust God to see us through.
Ungodly fear in the Christian life often stems from feelings of guilt. Most of us have a conscience, and to have a conscience is to have the capacity for fear. One of Satan’s lies is: “You deserve to be unhappy. You are not good enough for good things to happen to you.” On the screens of our minds he flashes close-ups of our sins and bad attitudes that merit God’s judgment. Reacting to this fiery dart from the evil one, some Christians live a continual horror story of exaggerated perils and imaginary threats in order to punish themselves for sin. They plod through deepening drifts of dread that could be melted by God’s warm love—if only they could accept the amnesty He offers at Calvary.
Satan’s accusation of unforgivable guilt is designed to make us lose confidence in the future through losing our confidence in God. Yet God answers the accusation in just one word—one name—one act that has forever established His love and forgiveness: Jesus!
In Jesus we are not only good, we are great. We are not only strong, we have the entire arsenal and might of heaven for our defense. So why carry a load of guilt when we can repent and be forgiven? Why worry when we can pray? When we know that Jesus has made things right, that He has given us the power to do right, that in the final settlement all will be right, we can rest in Him. We can rest in His love and rejoice in the midst of the transient troubles of our human existence.
In contrast to ungodly fear, Christian concern is based on our relationship with Jesus. It sharpens our awareness and enables us to grapple with unpleasant reality. It strengthens us to meet every challenge and to do whatever must be done.
The key to overcoming fear is to replace it with godly concern. Both fear and concern have their causes. Yet only concern stems from reality. The anxious or fearful person does not struggle with realities, but with his or her own feelings of inadequacy.
God answers the problems posed by anxieties with one word: trust! Trust is a decision. It involves taking a stand, remembering that commitment, and behaving accordingly. It means that in the midst of an anxiety attack, we must call upon God, our Defender and Advocate, who just “happens” also to be in control of the universe.
When blitzkrieged by Satan, the most important thing an anxious child of God can do is make a reality check. The evil one would have us believe that the forces arrayed against us are invincible. But remember: his power is limited. His bark is worse than his bite. The shrieking threat of his attack deceives us into thinking that he can do more damage than God will allow. It’s just not so.
We must confess and confirm our trust in the midst of trouble. Faith and trust are inextricably bound, and you cannot have one without the other. Here are some pointers in applying faith and trust in the Lord:
- Take a stand that God is good, that He loves you, and that He will not let any test befall you that He will not give you the strength to overcome (1Corinthians 10:13).
- Feed your faith with frequent Scripture readings, memorizing the “trust” passages. A favorite that comes to mind is Isaiah 26:3: “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee; because he trusteth in thee.” Don’t be afraid to say the verse out loud often and ponder its meaning.
- Remember that perfect love casts out fear (I John 4:18). God’s perfect love that culminated at Calvary banishes Satan’s power and his arsenal of accusations against the child of God. It is not our love for God, but His love for us that accomplishes this.
God himself is our Defense and our Defender. When we take shelter in Him, truly we have nothing to fear but fear itself.