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Faith and Fear

"It is I; do not be afraid." These reassuring words instilled such faith in Peter that he was ready to go down from the boat to join Him whom he had feared to be a ghost, to tread upon the sea (Mt 14:26-29). 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 you of little faith, why did you doubt?" (Mt 14:30-31).

In another seafaring episode, a storm so threatened their lives that the disciples asked their sleeping Master if He did not care that they perished. Jesus' reply was: "Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?" (Mk 4:37-40).

The conflict between faith and fear can be seen in various incidents in the Gospels. Three incidents recorded in Mark 5 vividly portray the relationship between faith and fear.

The Gerasenes Encounter

The coming of Jesus had just brought great blessing to the demoniac who had been possessed by a legion of demons. It was no small matter 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. Those in the area should have responded to such a miracle with immense appreciation and gratitude. Alas, "they came to Jesus, and saw the one who had been demon-possessed and had the legion, sitting and clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid" (Mk 5:15).

Before long, the entire country was gripped with a horrifying fear and "they began to plead with Him to depart from their region" (Mk 5:17). Fear had placed them in a wrong disposition, and disabled them from viewing things in the proper perspective. 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 terrifying 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: the peace of God which surpasses all understanding (Phil 4:7). If only they had, they would not have been fearful.

The Woman in the Crowd

A woman sick and desperate, and with no money left, heard news of a great healer passing by. After physicians had disappointed her countless times, this news could still excite her. Though she had spent all her money on physicians who could not improve her condition, she did not consider whether this time would be another failure. Unlike many modern-day seekers of healing who will only "give it a try," she pressed on, finding her way through the crowd with the firm conviction: "If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well" (Mk 5:28).

When at last she touched the hem of His garments, she felt a stream of healing flow through her body and was cured. But she was not the only one to feel the healing touch, for Jesus, her Healer turned and asked, "Who touched Me?" The woman, "fearing and trembling?came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth" (Mk 5:33). What godly fear! It was a very 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. She could do nothing but bow down and worship the One who had bestowed such unknown grace.?

The Ruler of the Synagogue

Mark 5 has revealed, on the one hand, horrifying fear that wipes out all possibility of faith and on the other, godly fear which ensues from faith. From Christ's dealing with Jairus, we may examine another category of fear.

Jesus was on His way to heal Jairus' daughter when the woman with an issue of blood had interrupted Him. Immediately after witnessing the great miracle of her healing, Jairus's faith was to receive a great blow, for his servants came from his home and reported, "Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?"(Mk 5:35). Arrested by the fear of this dreadful loss, Jairus's faith would have plunged to its ebb if Jesus had not assured him, "Do not be afraid; only believe" (Mk 5:36). 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" (Mk 9:24).

Publisher: True Jesus Church