Like everyone else in Florida, my family and I are waiting on Hurricane Irma to make landfall.
Every major news channel is reporting on enormous hurricane—her trajectory, the devastation she’s already wrecked, and the lives she’s claimed. This morning, CBS called her a “monster” and a “killer storm.” The poor folks in Barbuda would probably agree.
Although we’re in Tallahassee, most of our gas stations ran out of gas days ago. Stores like Wal-Mart and Publix have been out of water and low on staples like bread and toilet paper. Several stores have had new shipments, but the generators and water have sold out within minutes.
If I had to use one word to describe the tension in the air, it would be “Fear.”
We know the Bible tells us repeatedly not to fear, and yet we can’t help but be scared when life’s storms are headed our way. So, how do we respond in a godly way? What are we supposed to do?
This situation reminds me David, staring up at Goliath. At about nine feet tall, Goliath must have looked like a man-eating monster. If he had focused on Goliath’s past, his ability, his hatred, and his desire for blood, David would have returned home and let someone else worry about the giant. David was the youngest in his family, a mere shepherd boy. No one expected him to be a hero. He could have left without incurring any shame.
But David wasn’t looking for an out. In fact, he wasn’t looking at Goliath, either. His eyes were on God. He knew beyond a doubt what God could do in the present situation because he knew what God had done for him in the past:
“And David said, ‘The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine'” (1 Samuel 17:37 NAS).
Armed with nothing but a sling and a few stones, David brought his monster to its knees. (See 1 Samuel 17:32-51.)
This is the kind of life-changing experience a person doesn’t forget. I imagine David was thinking back on it when he later wrote, “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread?” (Psalm 27:1 NAS). By God’s power, David had fought a lion, a bear, and a giant. With each success, his faith was strengthened even more.
Interestingly, there is one thing the Bible tells us to fear: God Himself.
“You shall fear only the LORD your God; and you shall worship Him and swear by His name” (Deuteronomy 6:13 NAS).
“You shall follow the Lord your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him” (Deuteronomy 13:4 NAS).
There are numerous Scriptures that reinforce this idea that we should fear God…and only God. That’s because when we fear God, we cling to Him with loving obedience. This is the opposite of being afraid of something and running away from it.
To “fear God” means that we:
- Believe in God—accept that He exists and His Word is true (See 2 Timothy 3:16-17)
- Obey God—follow His commands daily (See Deuteronomy 13:4)
This type of fear is really a form of holy reverence.
When we fear the storms of this life, our anxiousness can make them appear bigger than they are. We focus on the storm and forget the One who created all things, who manages all things, and who loves us immeasurably. Our problem looms so large that we cannot see God beyond it, and our faith falters. That’s when our storm becomes an idol.
We are told to fear only God because He is the only one worthy of our fear, our love, our reverence, and our obedience. To every storm on the horizon, every coming battle, every season of hardship, we are told to “fear not”—not because it isn’t scary, not because it won’t be hard, and not because God doesn’t care. We’re told to “fear not” because there is nothing bigger than God and nothing worthy of our adoration but Him.
If, like us, you’re in the path of Irma, please listen to the advisories. If you’re in an evacuation zone, get out. If you’re hunkering down, be smart about it. Use common sense and stay safe.
However, as you watch the news, and the wind begins to pick up speed, take a breath. Don’t let the storm loom larger than God. Keep it in perspective as you focus on Him—all the things He’s done for you and all the times He’s delivered you. Then put it in God’s hands. God is with us, and He’ll get us through this.
“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10 NAS).
I’ll be posting updates throughout this storm. To see more about our experience, or for helpful hints and links, check out my Facebook page @ashleyljones.author. God bless you and keep you safe!