Fear is a powerful force in our world. Many live with anxiety or stress which most often has fear as its root. God designed us to have healthy fear to protect us. Being afraid to walk into a yard with a vicious dog is a good and healthy fear, but being afraid to go outside because you might run into a vicious dog is an unhealthy fear. The fears we live under most often are unhealthy fears.
The Bible has much to say about what to fear and what not to fear. God tells Isaiah in chapter eight not to fear what everybody else fears. In other words, don’t be afraid of what is happening in the world around you. Don’t be afraid of what might, or conversely, might not happen to you. Don’t be afraid of what others think of you or say about you. Don’t be afraid of losing income, or possession, or even your life or the lives of loved ones.
But God also tells Isaiah what is a healthy fear. “The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread.” (NIV) When we regard something as holy we set it apart, hold it up and allow it to control us. This verse is saying what you fear you hold as holy. So when you fear anything but God you are controlled by that fear. But when you fear God, the verse goes on to say, he becomes your hiding place or your sanctuary.
So how does a person fear God and quit fearing anything else? That whole passage in Isaiah 8 is referenced or quoted numerous times in the New Testament as finding its ultimate fulfillment in Jesus. The point being that when we focus on him, place him at the center and as the purpose and motivation for everything we do and say, we hold him as holy and he frees us from all other fear.
Don’t hear in this that life becomes easy, or that everything then works out the way you want it to. Isaiah still suffered greatly after this. And the New Testament speaks extensively that we should expect to encounter difficulty and suffering. But you won’t be controlled by fear. You will have peace that is untouchable by any circumstance you may have to face.