In the capital city here in Burundi there is a “zoo” that has a number of small concrete enclosures. One of the few things you can do at this “zoo” – other than wrap a snake around your neck, or hand soda or beer to the chimpanzees, (yes, seriously; and no, don’t get me started) – is buy a live guinea pig or rabbit at the front desk, and feed it to the crocodile.
I’m going out on a limb to assume the last few moments of the furry animal’s life is pretty much the epitome of fear. They see what’s happening and they have no rational hope of changing the situation. Telling that bunny “don’t be scared” would be horribly cruel if you don’t plan on doing something to save it from the croc (and to be honest, I’m not sure I’d recommend that, no matter how deep your love for rabbits).
Unless you knew it had no valid reason to be scared (which you don’t) or you are going to save it (which you probably shouldn’t) you are either delusional or cruel to say “don’t be scared.”
In the Bible, “Fear Not” is the most common ‘command’ from God. All throughout the Old and New Testaments, the God of the Bible tells his people to not be afraid. If God says “don’t be afraid” when we face situations that appear bleak or downright frightening, we can assume the same as in the rabbit-croc-situation. There are only three options:
God is delusional and doesn’t understand what we’re facing
He’s cruel and is giving us false hope before we’re eaten alive
He is both aware and good.
If he is both truly good and fully aware and yet still says ‘fear not’ then one of two things is true: he will do something; he sees from a perspective that we don’t.
God stepping in and doing something is easier to understand. Even if we think we’ve never experienced it, we can imagine it. The Bible is full of instances when God steps into human experience to save his people.
The second possibility is harder to picture. From the rabbit’s perspective, the whole situation is hopeless, and impending doom and complete ruin are inevitable. But what if it wasn’t? What if there were a way out that only you knew about, or the croc was merely a hologram, or their mouth was wired shut, or they were actually a friendly vegetarian crocodile (sorry, I’m reaching on this, but stick with me). What if the apparent total destruction was actually not so? What if the person saying ‘fear not’ knew the real truth of the situation, and that’s why they are saying it?
To accept this truth – the rabbit would have to believe you see things it doesn’t, you know things it doesn’t, you understand what it can’t. For us to accept God’s command of Fear Not – we have to do the same as the rabbit, accept there are things beyond our understanding. Maybe He knows some temporary pain will lead to something better. Maybe he knows it will not actually break us. Maybe he knows it won’t happen at all. Maybe we will never understand why he said it.
But we have to accept our limitations. There are events we misunderstand. There are parts we can’t see. Perhaps that’s the hardest part.
Download one of these wallpapers for your phone or computer as a daily reminder of the truth that is often hard for us to see:
,I admit by even calling you “God
“that you know more than I do,
that you see things I can’t see,
that you understand what I can’t.Help me to accept this truth,
so I can believe you more deeply
when you tell me
‘Do Not Be Afraid.’