The Paradox of Fear

God created fear to be held in the place of reverence for Him, but because of sin, our fear has shifted from our Creator to His creation.

Topics : Fear

I am notorious for having car trouble. I’ve found myself stuck on the side of the highway more times than I can count, which has forced me to become familiar with mechanical issues. But there was one occasion when I couldn’t figure out the problem. My car kept overheating and shutting down. I researched and attempted many solutions before giving up and taking it to a mechanic. He explained that the problem was not the battery itself, but an internal misalignment that caused the battery to shift out of place. The shift robbed the battery of its power and ability to function as it was created.  

The brokenness of humanity is to fear what an internal misalignment is to a car battery. 

God created fear to be held in a place of reverence for Him (Ps. 33:8; Matt. 10:8). However, sin has loosened our human wiring and caused a spiritual misalignment. No longer is fear placed in reverence to the Creator, but it has shifted to the creation—finite things like people, possessions, intellect, and circumstances.

Misaligned Fear

In Mark 4:35–41, the disciples find themselves on a boat after Jesus instructs them to cross over with Him to the other side of the sea. Moments after setting off, clouds fill the sky and ferocious winds come upon the waters. Violent waves toss the boat back and forth, sending salty spray over the sides and knocking the disciples off their feet as water quickly fills the stern. The disciples shift from one side of the boat to the other, clinging to anything they can grab hold of. And Jesus? Well, He’s asleep. 

Can you imagine the terror the disciples must have felt? Verse 38 says they feared for their lives. Have you ever felt that kind of circumstantial fear? Maybe instead of a sinking boat you found Jesus calling you to “the other side” of a role, relationship, or opportunity and you obediently followed. But suddenly the winds and waves of life began tossing you back and forth, leaving you holding on with everything you had just to survive. 

Could it be that Jesus is asking you today the same questions He asked the disciples on that wind-swirling, dreary night: “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 

The Calm in the Storm  

Jesus came not merely to deliver us out of the chaotic waters of the sea, but from the turmoil of our souls. What the disciples couldn’t see in the eye of the storm is the same thing we often miss—though despair threatens to drown out our hope, the anchor we need is with us. Jesus is that anchor, the Word that spoke the wind, the waves of the sea, and the world into existence (Gen. 1:9–10; John 1:1–4).

But something interesting (and maybe surprising) happens in verses 39 and 40: Jesus doesn’t simply rebuke the wind and the sea, but the disciples as well. Why? Weren’t they experiencing real fear? 

Jesus does not rebuke the disciples for their pleas for deliverance. Rather, He rebukes their fear, which is inconsistent with true faith rooted in a belief in God and His power (2 Tim. 1:7; Ps. 55:22). They doubted God’s character despite all the miracles Jesus had already performed (Mark 1:21–44). Like the disciples, we, too, often plead with God while doubting His character. The Bible likens this kind of double-mindedness and instability to a storm-tossed boat (James 1:5–8). Or perhaps a misaligned battery. 

Fear Reshifted 

The last line of this scene in Mark is paramount to understanding the lesson that Jesus intended for His disciples and for us today: 

“And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?’” 

Did you catch the shift? The disciples went from fearing creation to a reverential fear of the God of creation. What caused the change? They were not to credit for the calming of the wind and waves. It wasn’t their techniques and strategies as fishermen that brought peace to their fear-stricken souls. It was fear that defeated their fear—one of the paradoxes of faith. What caused their shift was a fear of the Lord—a reverential awe and consciousness of who He is, which silences all other fears and brings complete peace.

Maybe you’ve been trying out every solution you can think when it comes to fear, much like I did with my car battery. But there’s only one mechanic for our souls who offers the solution we need for proper alignment: a reverential fear placed solely in our Creator. 

May you and I never underestimate the presence of God and the power of His Word to silence all unworthy fears and bring complete peace to the raging sea of our souls.