Not fearing, but revering God

Vicki Turpen
Published by The CS Monitor, 6.13.2023

When fear comes knocking, whether the threat is big or small, we can find comfort and security by turning our attention to a deep love for God.

It was 1962, and much of the United States was gripped by fear, knowing that the Soviet Union was in the process of installing nuclear missiles on the island of Cuba. Although the US government was negotiating with the Soviets, the threat felt very real, and people across America were building bomb shelters, fortifying basements, and stocking up on food.

As a new student of Christian Science, I was learning that God is more powerful than both weapons and fear. However, I lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where we were warned that there were nuclear materials and perhaps bombs in the nearby mountains and that our city was sure to be a prime target, should there be a conflict.

One morning I was in our tiny bathroom with our two-year-old daughter when all at once we heard the shriek of what sounded like a siren. Panicking, I put my daughter on the floor, covered her with my body, and started to pray. After what seemed like an eternity, the noise stopped, and I realized that the sound had come from a telephone that I had brought into the bathroom, which had been off the hook for too long.

I felt silly for having reacted as I did and realized that I had to address my fear. I decided not to seek answers in the news, or try to follow every snippet of the negotiating process. Instead, I turned to the Bible and to “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” by Mary Baker Eddy, the textbook of Christian Science.

I knew that Christ Jesus had proved what he trusted and taught about God and that he had promised his followers that they would be comforted (see John 14:16). I certainly wanted comfort and to not react fearfully or impulsively. I decided to research the word “fear” from a spiritual basis.

The Bible encourages us not to be afraid, and many Bible stories show people overcoming fear and triumphing over fear-inducing situations. The ninety-first Psalm assures us of our safety from mortality and evil and the fears associated with both.

Jesus told his followers, “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32). He proved this to be true by remaining safe in some dangerous and threatening situations – on a boat in a tempestuous sea, on a cliff when pursued by an angry crowd, and in several other instances.

Digging deeper into the Scriptures, we discover another use of the word “fear” — one that relates to our relationship to God. In Proverbs we read, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (1:7), and “The fear of the Lord tendeth to life: and he that hath it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil” (19:23).

Dictionary definitions of the word “fear” include reverence, respect, veneration, even awe. So, these verses could be seen as counseling people not to be afraid of God, who is Life and Love, and only good, but rather to revere and love Him. Focusing on loving God displaces fear of evil and reveals our inherent security.

I cherished all these insights into the word “fear” and began to revere God more as the only power. My prayers were not only to address my own fears but also to help heal the fear that was being felt in our country. Mrs. Eddy writes, “Good thoughts are an impervious armor; clad therewith you are completely shielded from the attacks of error of every sort. And not only yourselves are safe, but all whom your thoughts rest upon are thereby benefited” (“The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” p. 210).

As I prayed along with many others in the world, I felt the presence of the Comforter Jesus promised, and I became confident that war was not imminent. I knew there was no need for us to fear one another, because Love governs all. Several days later, negotiations resulted in the missiles being dismantled and removed from Cuba.

When we hear about conflicts around the world, we can ask ourselves, “Which concept of fear will I embrace in my thought?” We can choose to revere God and set aside the temptation to be worried or afraid. Standing confidently in awe of God’s love and power, we can know that divine Love is always victorious.

Adapted from an article published in the Sept. 26, 2022, issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.

Copyright © 2024, The Christian Science Monitor

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