“Do not be afraid; only believe”

With these words from Mark 5:36, the Lord Jesus comforted the ruler Jairus, who had come to Him for help for his daughter. When he had gone to Jesus, his daughter was still alive. Now he received the news that she had died. There was no longer any point in hoping for help. After Jesus’ words of comfort, Jairus believed, and so his daughter was restored to him.

This incident shows us what blessings true, living faith can impart on us. That is why it is so important for us to have a clear and good conscience toward God, His Word, and our fellow man, so that our faith has a sound foundation. Many people want to practice faith, but their conscience troubles them because they do not live justly according to the Word of God. Only he who preserves the mystery of faith with a clear conscience can bring his requests and needs before the Lord with fearlessness and justified courage. However, it is of utmost importance for us how we practice our faith in practical life, because active faith imparts heavenly goods to us.

In Isaiah 43:1-5, we read, among other things, the following words: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine…Fear not, for I am with you!” This encouraging exhortation of the prophet also applies to us, for it says in the 7th verse: “Everyone who is called by My name, whom I have created for My glory; I have formed him.”

To us the word applies: I am with you! Who is the one who calls out to us? It is the almighty, present, faithful God who loves us. If He, our God, is with us, of whom and why should we be afraid in times of worries, inconveniences, temptations and the like? They may be worries about our natural well-being, concerning the present or the future, or worries about victory over sin and doing the will of God. God says to you and to me, “I am with you!” You must believe this and really trust it to be true.

We humans are too easily inclined to look at circumstances and ourselves in times of trials, sorrows, and struggles. But this is often the cause for defeat. It is precisely then that we must immerse ourselves in the thought: God is with me! This faith makes us calm and gives us comfort. The same is true in times of illness and need. The fear and anxiety that impose themselves on us must be countered by fearless, bold faith: God, who loves me, cares for me, has the best in mind for me, is with me! Through this living faith, the fiery arrows of the evil one, which want to inflame and irritate us, are cut off, and the enemy is chased away.

The story of Jesus’ calming of the storm may serve as an example for us. In Luke 8:24-25, we read, “And they came to Him and awoke Him, saying, ‘Master, Master, we are perishing!’ Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water. And they ceased, and there was a calm. But He said to them, ‘Where is your faith?’ And they were afraid, and marveled, saying to one another, ‘Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him!’”

The disciples were in the ship with Jesus. Jesus was asleep; the waves were crashing over the ship, and it was threatening to sink. The disciples were overcome with great fear and anxiety for their lives. Therefore, they woke Jesus, and He calmed the storm. Jesus now questioned them: Where is your faith? The disciples should have said to themselves in undaunted faith: Jesus is with us. He is the Messiah, the Son of God! Surely nothing can happen to us! But they let themselves be overwhelmed by anxiety and fear.

We find another image in Genesis 28:10-22. Jacob was fleeing from his brother. No doubt he was in a grim and desolate situation. In the evening, when the sun had set and he was tired from wandering, he had nothing but a stone for a pillow. No doubt he must have felt terrible in this pitiful situation. But at this point, God appeared to Jacob in a dream. After awakening, he got up from his camp, blessed that place, and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.”

Here we have an important lesson. We often get into circumstances in life where it seems as if our sun has set. Our situation seems extremely difficult to us. But the Lord is with us in such situations, as He also made clear to Jacob. The ladder of heaven that Jacob saw in his dream reached from him to heaven, to the throne of God. The angels ascended and descended, showing Jacob that the connection between him and God was still there.

There is also a connection between us and our God. God’s Word says of the angels, “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14) This we must remember. The angels are there to serve us.

For this we are told in the Word of God, which endures forever: “I will never leave you nor forsake you!” Oh, what a reason we have to rejoice, to hope where there is nothing to hope for, to wait, even if we do not receive help immediately according to our wishes and our own understanding.

Yet again, we have every reason to remain silent to Him. Even if our desires are thwarted, one thing is certain: God, who loves us, is with us and cares for our very best. It is here that we also, like Jacob, anoint the stone, the trials and difficulties. The Lord is also with us in such places and perhaps primarily in such times. Therefore, this word “Fear not, only believe!” can and will keep us victorious and confident for the time to come. And so we will experience that our faith is the victory that overcomes the world.

R. Girke

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