The Relationship Between Fear and Faith

“I heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound; decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled. Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us. (Habakkuk 3:16)

As we’ve seen so far, the prophet Habakkuk’s faith was strengthened as God answered his questions and he leaned on what he knew about the character and past activity of God on behalf of His people Israel. And though he knew what was to come and trusted God to accomplish His will, Habakkuk still trembled about the painful ramifications. 

His life wouldn’t be easy. He would very likely lose his possessions as well as family and friends. He could expect to be exiled to a foreign land and face persecution from Israel’s conquerors. His world would be turned upside down, and he feared what was about to come. Like the rest of us, his faith didn’t erase his humanity. He still wrestled with the sure fate of the nation as well as his own uncertain circumstances. So, he did what we should all do in such a situation—he confessed his fearful feelings to God. 

There’s nothing hidden from God. He already knows what you believe and how you feel. Jesus placed these two aspects of our humanity in two separate categories—the flesh and the spirit. In Gethsemane, Jesus told his disciples, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41). The flesh and the spirit are not the same thing. And though the presence of fleshly weakness does not preclude a spirit of faith, Paul teaches that the two are actually in opposition to each other:

“So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.” (Romans 7:21-23)

Let’s be honest with God, who knows us better than we know ourselves. Scripture commands us to, “…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose” (Philippians 2:12b-13). Our lingering sin should continue to bother our conscience and steer us to obedience, while we should continue to boast in the Lord, who we know has saved us, who is saving us, and who will ultimately save us.

By Jim Connell

Jim and his wife, Becky, moved from Indiana to Lexington to establish the Lexington Rescue Mission. They have two married children, Laura and Brian.

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