Does having faith mean that we never feel fear? Some people, in fact a lot of Christians, believe that it does. They point to Scripture, such as “Fear not, for I am with you” (Isaiah 41:10). I think that oversimplifies the matter. Can you imagine someone who never felt fear and how often their life would be in danger? Fear is a basic emotion that keeps us from ruining our lives, socially, emotionally, and physically. Consider how fear of public speaking can be useful. Sometimes people wish they could feel comfortable speaking in front of a crowd but if we had absolutely no fear then we might walk up on stage and say something that could damage our reputation if we were not prepared. Fear can help us shore up our resources to meet an important challenge.
I think Scripture teaches us that we should be worried and afraid about the right things. We should “fear God” and that means we should have anxiety about ensuring that our life resembles the one he has called us to. To fear God means having enough anxiety to perform well at our jobs, to act with integrity, to consider our appearance, and to maintain our relationships. Sometimes faith means that we take our lives a little more seriously than we otherwise would, that we strive to develop integrity, to work hard at our calling, and to show compassion, and we should fear the absence of these qualities in our lives.
Of course, faith really does offer us a solution to the crippling and obsessive anxiety that sometimes can ruin our day and take away our peace. The line that is drawn is the one between that we can control and that we cannot. Our task is to work hard at what we can control, to be afraid that we will miss out on the opportunity to be part of God’s work, and to surrender over to God everything that is out of our hands.