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 (Manna 28)
Faith and Fear
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Shee Tse Loong (Singapore)

The conflict between faith and fear can be seen in various incidents recorded in the Gospels. The reassuring words “It is I; do not be afraid” instilled such faith in Peter that he was ready to go down from the boat to join the person whom he had previously feared was a ghost, to tread upon no sure foundation but sea water1. But when he saw the wind and became afraid, he began to sink. His cry for help was met with Christ’s gentle rebuke, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”2 In another seafaring episode, a storm so threatened their lives that the disciples asked their sleeping Master if He cared not that they perished. Jesus’ reply was: “Why are you fearful?” Have you not yet faith?”3

A vivid portrayal of the relationship between faith and fear can be seen in three incidents recorded in the fifth chapter of Mark.


The coming of Jesus had just brought great blessing to the demoniac who had been possessed by a legion of demons. It was indeed no small thing that a man who had been out of his mind, unrestrainable, living in tombs, crying day and night, and cutting himself with stones was at an instant put into his right mind. Such a miracle should have been met with immense appreciation and gratitude by the surrounding people. Alas, “they came to Jesus, and beheld him that was possessed with demons sitting, clothed and in his right mind, even him that had the legion and they were afraid.”4

Before long, the entire country was gripped with a horrifying fear and “they began to beseech Him (Jesus) to depart from their borders”.5 Fear had placed them in a wrong disposition, and disabled them from viewing things in their proper perspectives. Their attention was focused on the disturbing fact that some 2,000 swine had gone dashing to their death.

This event, though momentary, was so horrifying to them that they forgot the horrors they had gone through with the demoniac all those years. More importantly, they failed to notice the peace and tranquility of the former demoniac all the peace of God which surpasses all understanding.6 If only they had, they would not have been fearful.


A woman sick and desperate, and with no money left, heard news of a great healer passing by. After being disappointed countless times by many physicians, this news could still excite her. Though she had spent all her money on physicians who could not even improve her condition, she never for a moment thought that perhaps this time would be another failure. Unlike many modem day seekers of healing who would only “give it a try”, she pressed on, finding her way through the crowd with the firm conviction: “If I touch even His garments, I shall be made well.”7

When at last she touched just the hem of His garments, she felt a stream of healing flow through her body and was cured at that instant. But she was not the only one to feel the healing touch, for Jesus, her great Healer turned and asked, “Who touched Me?” The woman, “fearing and trembling ... came and fell down before Him, and told Him all the truth”.6 What godly fear! What a different kind of fear from the Gerasenes! The faith that led to her healing told her that surely the One who possessed such great healing power would have known and could even have singled her out from the crowd. And she could do nothing but bow down and worship the One who had bestowed such great grace the likes of which she had never known before.


The chapter has thus far revealed, on one hand, horrifying fear which wipes out all possibility of faith and on the other, godly fear which ensues from faith. We examine further, from Christ’s dealing with Jairus, another category of fear.

Jesus was on His way to heal Jairus’ daughter when He was interrupted by the woman with an issue of blood. Immediately after witnessing a great miracle, Jairus’ faith was to receive a great blow, for his servants came from his home reporting, “Your daughter is dead, why troublest thou the Teacher any further?”9 Arrested by fear of losing his beloved daughter, his newly-enhanced faith took a plunge and would have reached its ebb if not for Jesus’ assurance, “Fear not, only believe.”10 Doubtful fear breaks down the fabric of faith. It can be overcome only by believing. We have no other solution but to plead with the Lord, “I believe; help my unbelief.”11

I. Mt 14:26-29  2. Mt 14:30-31  3. Mk 4:37-40  4. Mk 5:15  5. Mk 5:17  6. Phil 4:7

7. Mk 5:28  8. Mk 5:33  9. Mk 5:35  10. Mk 5:36  11. Mk 9:24


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Author: Shee Tse Loong