There are so many scary things happening in our world lately: earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes erupting, civil wars, governments being overthrown…. It is not surprising that people would be afraid, but the encouragement of II Timothy 1:7 came to my mind. I think we need to understand what is meant by fear in this verse. There is certainly a place for being cautious when we are facing dangerous situations, but we also need to be brave and trust in God’s power. Words like “Fear not” and “Be strong and courageous” are used often throughout the Bible. (Matthew 14:27, Luke 1:30, John 6:20, Jeremiah 1:8, Deuteronomy 31:23, I Corinthians 16:13)
When Paul wrote to Timothy, it was not in the context of natural disasters or political upheaval; he was exhorting him and encouraging him not to be timid or cowardly when facing people who would disagree with his ministry. In II Timothy 1:5 Paul expresses his confidence in Timothy’s faith, then in II Timothy 1:6 reminds him to make use of the gifts that God has given him. Paul knew that the spirit of fear did not come from God. This wasn’t just a theory for Paul; he had been through enough trials (II Corinthians 11:24-33) that it would have been perfectly understandable for him to be afraid. Instead he relied on the power of God.
You, too, have access to God’s power. That doesn’t mean that you won’t face hardships; it means that you have a source of strength and courage to get through them. If God has called us to do something, He will give us everything we need to do it. (Philippians 4:13). He desires for us to rely on Him. (Psalm 27:14) As Paul told Timothy, there is no need to be afraid.