In March of 1933, the 32nd president of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt, gave his first inaugural address. Many people rightly debate the worth or harm of his policies, but in that address he did breathe a truth that we often forget. The truth was perfect for the dark time that the nation was blindly stumbling through. The great depression had not yet lifted, and America found herself in a period of horrible material devaluation, unprecedented taxation, government ineffectiveness, and a general lack of hope. He wanted to persuade the American people to try some of his now debated ideas. In a speech that was both rousing, and somber, he uttered, “ The only thing we have to fear is fear itself .” He went on to explain why that was so. He argued that “nameless, unreasoned, unjustified terror” causes us to retreat when we should advance. He was right about that. Fear is an enemy that stifles advancement. But more importantly, it is always a symptom of one’s poverty of faith.
Imagine how many times you’ve shrank from trying something new because you were afraid you might fail. That fear comes from a host of possibilities. You fear your lack of competence, or you fear your ability to recover, or perhaps you fear what others will think of you if you fail. But a mature person doesn’t fear those things. A mature person prepares for those things by properly placing faith in the skills he knows he has, reasonable plans for recovery, and the character of the friends he chooses.
The person with the most maturity, and the most wisdom, places his greatest faith in the highest power of all: God. This, of course, isn’t as easy as it sounds. It requires that we know God, and trust what he says, and keep our eyes on him rather than the distractions that so easily beset human beings.
Knowing God means knowing his goodness and recognizing his power. Consider how Jesus’s disciples shook with fear as they rode on a boat with him, and a storm rocked their vessel. Jesus immediately pointed out their fear and questioned their lack of faith (Mark 4:35-41). They then, still in fear, asked a curious question, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him.” They didn’t yet know Jesus, his goodness, or his power!”
If you are a follower of Christ who has been saved from sin, then you have seen a far greater miracle than a man in a boat controlling the wind and the waves. You are the miracle of a human being who has been separated from genetic and spiritual darkness, and on the path to being made completely new. You know that the most powerful man who ever lived, gave up his life for you, so that you can be on that path. This is evidence of power, goodness and love. He loves you, and is with you, and he finishes what he starts (Philippians 1:6). There is nothing to fear if you know him — even if you are in a storm, an economic depression, a pandemic, or you feel the urge to pursue the path he’s asked you to pursue.