Read: Matthew 14:22-36
“Don’t be afraid,” [Jesus] said. “Take courage. I am here!” Then Peter called to Him, “Lord, if it’s really You, tell me to come to You, walking on the water.” “Yes, come,” Jesus said (vv.27-29).
Death scares me. I love my life, and I don’t want it to end. There’s also a part of me that wonders what the afterlife is really like. What if it’s different from what the Bible says?
Some people might think that my fears are unchristian and a threat to my faith. On the contrary, I think that they’re not only normal—who honestly isn’t afraid of the great beyond?—but they also play an important role in my faith. Fear doesn’t prevent me from having faith; fear actually presents the possibility for great faith.
It was no great thing for Peter to walk on land, but to lower himself over the side of the boat and splash through whitecaps toward our Lord—that took faith. We can, of course, allow fear to overwhelm us to the point of losing faith. But we can also channel our fear into Peter’s desperate cry as he began to sink, “Save me, Lord!” (Matthew 14:30).
Having faith does not mean that we’re not afraid. It gives us the courage to stand tall and to hang on in the middle of our fears. And the greater our fears, the stronger our faith can become.
We place our faith in Jesus, whose resurrection has defeated death. If we minimize death and claim that it’s no big deal, then we inadvertently also cheapen Christ’s resurrection that conquered it. But if we honestly admit that death is the enemy that terrifies us, then we can begin to appreciate the unparalleled power of the resurrection.
Faith isn’t about suppressing fear and pretending that everything is okay. But it does allow us to swallow hard—with shaky knees and sweaty palms—and cling to God’s promise that we will live again. Death is frightening, and for that reason it provides the ultimate test of our faith.
In what sense is faith the opposite of fear? Do faith and fear cancel each out other, or is it possible to have both at the same time?