The Lord Himself has commanded us not to fear. The command is always in the imperative mood. This means, simply, that it is not a polite suggestion. The command is an order, and a righteous order is only given when there is full capacity to obey. For a long time, I was absolutely certain that there was nothing I could do to escape fear and anxiety. My enemy had me completely convinced that I was powerless to change, because these were simply natural responses and emotions. I was even slightly prideful that I was no ostrich with my head in the sand, pretending that everything was fine when everyone knew damn good and well that it was not. I saw things for how bleak they were, and I loved God anyway. Certainly that was to my credit, no?
When God ordered the transfer of my fear from the myriad fears of man to the singular fear of Him, I was made to understand that this was something I was capable of obeying. This was a choice I could make that had nothing to do with my perception of reality or how I felt. It had to do with a redirection of gaze. It had to do with actually opening my eyes.
I started noticing a pattern in the commands. Every command regarding fear contained a conjunction that introduced a dependent idea. Every command had a very little, very powerful word that linked the reason with the result. Let’s take a look at an example.
“’Do not fear,’ declares the LORD, ‘for I am with you’” (Jeremiah 47:28).
“Do not fear” is the imperative command and the result we are all (including God) after. “For” is the powerful little conjunction. It is the red flag wildly waving that says, “Here is how you will accomplish this task. Here is a crucial piece of information. Here is the means for bringing about the end in mind.
“I am with you” is the reason we are not to fear. “How do I stop fearing?” you may ask. How does one obey this seemingly impossible command? A shift of gaze from the thing you have been fearing to Immanuel—God with you. I had to stop listing verses like these when I had filled a single-spaced page with scriptural references bearing this exact same formula. I will give you a little appetizer.
“’Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).
“Do not be afraid of sudden fear nor the onslaught of the wicked when it comes; for the LORD will be your confidence [at your side] and will keep your foot from being caught” (Proverbs 3:26).
“’Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!...Do not fear, for I am with you’” (Isaiah 43:1,5).
Can you find the conjunction after every single command? Can you identify the common reason that fearing what the world fears is illogical? Yes! It is two simple words: I AM. You do not have reason to fear because He is with you (Genesis 26:24). You can fear disaster no more, because I AM has taken away His judgments and cleared away your enemies (Zephaniah 3:15). Don’t be shocked. Your God has decided to go on ahead before you and fight on your behalf. He’ll turn back and carry you too. (Deuteronomy 1:29-31). You need not be dismayed, for I AM is the warrior, not you (2 Chronicles 20:15-17). You can rest now. Go ahead. Lay down and sleep without fear of ten thousands, because salvation belongs to Him (Psalm 3:4-8), and He has chosen to dwell in your midst (Deuteronomy 7:17-21).
This is why Elisha was not afraid when armored hordes gathered to slaughter him—a lone, unarmed prophet who was messing with their war. “Now when the attendant of the man of God had risen early and gone out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was circling the city, and his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?’” (2 Kings 6:15). The servant of Elisha was trusting his five senses and freaking out. I can relate to this fearful little guy. Certain doom was all he could see. He was wringing his hands, taking stock of the prowess of a man of God against an army of trained fighters, looking for what they could possibly do. But it had nothing at all to do with what they could do. “So he answered, ‘Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them’” (2 Kings 6:16).
Then Elisha prayed to God and asked Him to open his servant’s eyes. This had to be entirely exasperating for this poor servant who couldn’t possibly have shut his eyes for a solitary moment. Certainly he kept his irreverent eyes peeled on this gathering multitude of flashing swords even during Elisha’s prayer. He had to be as eyes-wide-open as one can be. He was in absolute terror. But that is exactly the point. The servant was operating entirely by sight while Elisha was operating entirely by faith. Elisha was not afraid because he understood where I AM stood in all this. Elisha had his spiritual eyes open and their gaze was fixed entirely on He Who was with them. “And the LORD opened the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (2 Kings 6:17). Open your eyes, my sister, my brother. The angel of the Lord and all His host are in the mountains round about you.