There is a strange juxtaposition whereby, at the same time, while fear and doubt are trying to capture my heart, the Holy Spirit is pulsing reminders of joy. Joy in my identity as a secure child of God. Joy over my filling with the Hope found in Jesus. Joy in the understanding of God’s great love. And joy in the permanence of God’s Kingdom and Christ’s righteousness in my life.
I love this quote by Elisabeth Elliot: “Courage is not the absence of fear but the willingness to do the thing we fear. Go straight into the furnace or the lion’s den. Were those men out of touch with their feelings or with reality? No! Nor was the psalmist who said, ‘When I am afraid, I will trust.’ There’s a big difference between feeling and willing.”
Matthew 28:8 says, “So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell His disciples.” Just as the women at Jesus’s tomb were focused on their devoted love of Christ and their intent on bringing burial spices for His body, an amazing intervention by an angel caused them a mixture of fear and joy in an instant. The angel revealed the very thing they had hoped for – Jesus was not there, He had risen from the dead! They saw proof of His resurrection. But, in that same moment, the emotions of surprise, trepidation, and fright flooded in.
In all the moments of life, I am relieved that I can experience both fear and joy at the same time. Much like the example of childbirth, there is the mishmash of simultaneous thoughts – “I can’t possibly do this thing,” …”give me drugs,”… “I really really can’t wait to meet this little one,”… “one more push,”… “there will be joy in the morning, right?”
That similar mixture of fear and joy is the juxtaposition in the mind and heart of every believer. We see the proliferation of evil and brokenness and many fearful things in our world. All very unsettling and disturbing. We are certainly not out of touch with our feelings or reality. Yet, we know God’s promises in His Word that these things must occur and even greatly increase. These things signal the nearness of Jesus’s 2nd coming, a cause for great joy! So, I pray that God will help us all to manage our “fear and joy” moments so that we will continue to do just what the angel commanded the women at the tomb to “…go quickly and tell His disciples; ‘He has risen’…” (Matt. 28:7).
Matthew 28:9-10 says, “Suddenly [on their way] Jesus met them [the women who had been at the tomb]. ‘Greetings,’ He said. They came to Him, clasped His feet and worshipped Him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see Me.’ ” These women were not out of touch with their feelings or reality. These women had stepped out in courage and were willing to obey both the angel at the tomb and Jesus on the way.
In the face of fear, another favorite verse I like is 2 Chronicles 20:12b: “…We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on You.” God is always faithful to deliver what is needed when we are both afraid and filled with joy. Take courage in these frequent moments.