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Faith and Fear

I’ve been thinking lately about inviting a guest blogger from time to time to give us a change of pace and some different perspectives to think about. So please welcome Mike Wittmer. He’s one of our regular bloggers at Our Daily Journey. Over the next couple weeks, we’ll be featuring a few of his posts and have also invited him to join in on the discussion! —Mart

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?

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25 Responses to “Faith and Fear”

  1. SFDBWV says:

    Mike, courage is what it takes to overcome fear. I am sorry I do not see faith and fear as opposites.

    I myself do not fear death.

    If I did not believe in an afterlife at all I certainly would only regret leaving the pleasent things of life, not death.

    No, for many of us death will be a welcome relief from life.

    When I was a very young man I learned that in order to truly live, I had to face death and overcome any fear of it.

    Then I could truly live.

    There are a great deal of things to be affraid of and all of us have our own personal fears.

    No, faith and fear has no place in the same context.

    If you read Hebrews 11:1 Faith is defined and there is no mention of fear.


  2. Hugger4U says:

    Just wanted to log in and share what the Word says about fear. 1John 4:18…There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
    In particular the fear of death…Hebrews 2:14,15….Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death-that is, the devil-15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.

    There is one more comment I would like to make about Mike’s statement above. “Death scares me. I love my life, and 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?” It appears that Mike has doubt about what the Bible says. In my experience and what I read in the Word doubt fosters fear. (Peter walking on water, that you opened your comment with.)

    Many other places in the Bible where angels or the Lord says “Do not fear”.

    Thanks for letting us have a place to discuss the Word among brothers and sisters in the Lord.

  3. xrgarza says:

    Often times in the Old Testament when God sent people to do something He would follow the instructions with don’t be afraid, or do not fear.

    Fear is a natural instinct, but the ability to not be afraid or to not fear, needs to be taught.

    My fear would be not that I die, because I’m looking forward to that, but that I would die and not be prepared, meaning that I didn’t share all with my family and friends that I wanted to, or perhaps leaving so unrepentantly that I leave my family and friends with a financial burden to care for my remains, or the burden of cleaning up my home.

    I’m not convinced that the lack of faith is always the opposite of fear, but without faith there is a void that is available for fear to fill.


  4. tandgmartin says:

    Philippians 2:12 (New International Version)

    12Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,

  5. su says:

    light & dark,

    that was my 1st thought (& all i was going to write) …

    but upon scanning the comments, i want to offer something resulting a in a combination of the 3 now available for me to read:

    facing our fears (good idea, but BEST with Christ and what HE gives us to do that – His Word, armor …).

    It is a ‘working out’ as the Word says. I encourage Xavier in this because I don’t want to see, may I use the word, regrets keeping you from focusing on Him. It is a process. We have not yet reached that perfect stage where there will be no fear! That is OK but don’t let them rule – kind of like, light and dark. Don’t live in the darkness, but SEEK the LIGHT. Once He has you in earnest (and that happened when He paid the FULL price & you accept/ed HIM, for who HE is), you’ll find light, and more light, and more light, as you KEEP seeking Him and to grow!

    Keep on keeping on)!!!

  6. pegramsdell says:

    I know that because Jesus was raised that I will be raised also. But most of us would have to admit that if someone pulled a gun on us and was about to shoot us or we were told we were dying, we would be afraid.

    The bible prepares us for life eternal, but we still don’t (really) know what it will be like. I am afraid, to be honest, but also excited and at peace with it all. Weird, huh?

    Good topic, thanks

  7. Grace48 says:

    What about Christians who daily live with post traumatic stress syndrome? Fear and faith together.

  8. bubbles says:

    Thank you for your honest thoughts.

    There are worse things than death. I think I fear more the pain that is often associated wtih final hours of death (in some cases) than death itself. I’ve always had the concern in the back of my mind what if I were injured or became so ill and didn’t die that I would be a burden on my family emotionally, physically, or financially? Becoming a burden on them would be worse than death to me. I wouldn’t want them to feel burdened or obligated to care for me.

    Often we see when Jesus’ disciples showed fear, He admonished them for their “little faith”. And,I do agree, that fear and worry are often present when we aren’t trusting the Lord to provide for us like we should.

    But, not all fear is the lack of faith. Some fears keep us safe–we don’t usually go to the very edge of a steep cliff because we fear falling. That fear isn’t lack of faith. We don’t drive 150 mph because we either fear getting caught and are fined heavily or taken to jail, or because we are fearful we could crash or hurt others. That isn’t lack of faith. So, some fears are put in place to act as a protection.

  9. foreverblessed says:

    THanks for all your comments:
    I was going to write what Hugger4U wrote,
    Perfect love drives out fear.
    I had problems with fear, and now I know, I knew it already, but now even more, that I have to search for the love of Christ, ask for it, go after it,
    And one thing helps: to bring my cup of worries and sins and weight, and give it to Him, He accepts it, and I receive so much love from Him.
    I had done that, years ago, but still new worries come up, new dark parts in my heart that I realise still are there.
    But Jesus takes them from me. He is so good, so full of love.
    He that has been forgiven much, loves much.
    So to fill me with His love. And then, fear is gone.

  10. xrgarza says:

    I must have not checked my post after I ran spell check I meant to say unexpectanly & not repentantly.

    Thanks Su for the encouragment.

    Bubbles, it would be an honor to be inconvienced for you. Sign me up!


  11. mikewittmer says:

    Thank you for your comments again. Just to make sure that I’m not misunderstood, I have complete confidence in the promises of Scripture and the hope of the resurrection. I know and believe that when I die I will be with Jesus and will return with him to this glorious and renewed earth. But if I’m honest I have to say that death is still scary. Death may not frighten everyone, but it does me, and yet by committing myself to Jesus I am still able to exercise faith in the gospel.

    Heb. 2:15 is a wonderful verse–but note that it doesn’t say that all fear of death is removed, but that any fear of death no longer captures us and holds us in bondage. Praise Jesus that he gives us the victory over our “last enemy” (1 Cor. 15:26).

  12. JediKnight4Him says:

    Sounds like to depart and be with christ is far better!

  13. mikewittmer says:


    Absolutely–but that doesn’t mean that it’s wrong to be afraid to make the trip. Jesus experienced both fear and faith on the cross, saying “Why have you forsaken me?” and “Into your hands I commit my spirit.” I’m not for a minute saying that our death is redemptive like his, but if Jesus expressed faith in the midst of fear, then so can we. We don’t have to be afraid, but we can still have faith even if we are.

  14. JediKnight4Him says:

    I might be afraid of the method of death but the Bible is crystal clear that to be with Jesus is a awesome thing.

  15. saled says:

    What are your thoughts on this analogy: hope is to faith as worry is to fear?

    I worried a lot more about death when I was young than I do now. That is not to say that I am now unafraid of it. One observation that my brother-in-law, who happens to be a pastor, has made is this: As a young pastor watching older members of his congregation face death, he expected to see examples of courage. Instead, he saw fear and anger. No one has yet taught him how to die. Maybe as Christians we expect too much of ourselves as we face death.

  16. scout1 says:

    Hi Mike – Welcome as Guest Blog-Master!

    I think that the thought of “how we die” – is a lot of the fear. But I learned something from two different times in my life.

    One, was when I had my son. When I got pregnant, the reality of not going back was there. I WAS going to go through that pain and experience -not knowing if it would go well or have complications. But I had to go forward and there was no control just forward. It was a fear that reminded me of death. You can’t get out of it you just go forward.

    The second time is when I went to my mom’s house at 8:00 pm and she was dead at 12:30. It was very unexpected. I live just down the street from her and I still can’t believe that she’s gone. I have gone through all the emotions that folks do. However, every time I have a really sad thought, it gets totally washed away by the thought that she is in MY future. It’s like she is ahead of me in line for the ride up to heaven. I’m still back here, waiting and living. You never know how many the next ride will hold. It may be your turn next. But that is where everyone is going. Even the people that Jesus healed in the Bible still had that same FUTURE.

    When I finally realized that I couldn’t get out of the pain of child birth or the future of death. I looked at the beautiful child I have and the future I look forward to. We are all headed in that same direction – hopefully with Jesus as our Savior.

    Just some thoughts. We miss you Mart.

  17. poohpity says:

    I believe that faith is a gift from God (Eph. 2:8; Romans 12:3) which causes us to act. Fear causes one to fight, flight or freeze. I also believe that gift from God, faith, causes us to think, believe and act in away that is pleasing to God and may seem unreasonable to those around us. Fear on the other hand stops us from doing what we were intended to do by God, causing us doubt, anxiety, worry and self protection from the unknown rather than trusting in God for the results in any given circumstance.

    We could have both at the same time but which will you listen to? Normally for a human being to have fear it will stop them from preforming when on the other hand faith will cause us to preform. I do believe that fear will inhibit what we would do in faith so to have both at the same time humanly speaking fear being the more powerful will override faith(ie; Peter’s walk on water).

    Because we have faith will that ever erase fear? No, but the faith can overcome the fear. Our faith will grow the more we confront fear with it and the more we pray for God to develop it in us and give us more. More faith and less fear. You asked if they cancel each other out yes they can. Faith can cancel fear out but the opposite is true also fear will cancel out faith that I believe is the choice of each believer. So which one will you cling more to faith that opens so many doors or fear that will close them as fast as a blink of an eye. God says “fear not” for I am with you now and until the end of time. So do not be afraid because Jesus has overcome the world and because he lives in us we are overcomers as well. Choose faith.

  18. xrgarza says:

    When I die, I want to go like Elijah went or perhaps like Enoch.


  19. ksr5871 says:

    Hi, new here. I don’t fear death as much as the process to death. That is to say, I’d like to just die in my sleep. I don’t want to get eaten by a gator, or burn up in a fire. I don’t want to feel death coming. That said, I don’t fear what comes after that. Best case, I’ll be directly with Jesus. Worse case, I’ll be “asleep in Christ” and will remember that no more than I remember before my birth. Jesus told the theif on the cross that he would be with Him in paradise. If you cross reference paradise you’ll see it is a place that is not heaven but rather like a “holding” cell. So, I’m not sure we go directly to see Jesus. Life is much harder at times than death would seem, but for Jesus, I would not be here today!
    God Bless all!

  20. SFDBWV says:

    The Bible spends a great deal of effort telling us what is important to fear and what is not.

    Jesus Himself tells us not to fear one who can only kill our body, but rather to fear the one who will decide where our eternity will be spent.

    If we place all of our faith and trust in God, including giving to Him all our fears….Then we can live a fearless life.

    That does not mean that things we may not want to happen to us won’t….No, once you give your life and trust over to God…plenty of unhappy things will come your way.

    When God chose David to be king and David accepted, his life was anything but simple and without pain.

    Every prophet experianced hardships and difficulties, even for some the sting of death.

    Jesus came to us for a purpose….That purpose was fulfilling the will of God, it led to his torture and death….Did He fear death? I think not… was He fearful of the torment He was to face the day of His exicution? Why wouln’t He be?

    Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen…….The opposite of faith is ….Hopelessness…

    A man must have courage to overcome fear. Even anger can at times overcome fear.

    A fireman who runs into the flames to save another, puts aside his fear for the benifit of another.

    A soldier who places his life on the line for another pushes fear far from his mind, for the task at hand.

    The timid person who finds the courage to stand up in church and publicly proclaim their love and faith in Christ, overcomes fear by haveing the courage to do so.

    God will give you courage to do whatever task He has for you.

    Today is the day the Lord has made, be glad in it.


  21. floraladyacm says:

    I believe I understand what Mr. Wittmer is trying to convey. That in spite of fear that we may feel, having faith in the face of it, despite it, is God given courage in itself. Like Mr. Wittmer’s courage in admitting he has internal fears that, even if we don’t like to admit it, most of us have. I have faced death. I battled cancer for three years and by the grace of God, I’m still here today. Did I fear dying? Oh, yes I did! Do I still fear Dying? I would be lying if I said I didn’t. But I know where I’m going when I die. God promised it and I Believe it. I think I’m more afraid of what Death will feel like Than actual death itself. Will it hurt? I don’t know. But I do know that I don’t like pain because it hurts me. If we are completely honest we can admit that there are things in life that we all fear, but through faith in the strength of our Lord Jesus Christ, We are more than conquerors in Him.

  22. poohpity says:

    I think death is the only thing I know without a doubt is going to happen. How it is going to come to pass that will be a surprise. Some find out it is coming soon while others never know the way or the time. I think if we fear death then it may keep us from living to some degree. The Lord knows our days and nights.

    Some folks worry about it so much and try to be younger that it totally consumes life today. We are given each day to store up treasures in heaven because we do not know when each of our time is up. I think if we are busy doing what the Lord has given us to do we will not sit around with idle minds to worry about things but to do things to store up those treasures so that our Lord will say “Good Job” you did good with what you were given.

  23. SFDBWV says:

    I wanted to comment on a point my friend Deborah (pooh) made…Faith is a gift from God.

    She is correct.

    Appart from God we can achieve nothing. God Himself provides all the neccessities we require in order to succeed for Him.

    Why is it some seem to have more faith than others? It is because they require more, and God is a good provider.

    Ecclesiastes 11:13 ” Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.”


  24. poohpity says:

    Thanks Steve but I just quoted from the bible.

  25. poohpity says:

    I think why some have more faith than others is because God may be all they have and they find out that He is all they need.

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