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fear of total goodness

For the thing that I fear comes upon me, and what I dread befalls me. I am not at ease, nor am I quiet; I have no rest, but trouble comes.         Job 3: 25


This week the Euro is at its lowest for 16 months against the dollar, the problem being Europe’s banks. Will even the UK government be strong enough to bail out its banks? Order books in Jersey’s building trades were hardly buoyant in 2011 – will there be enough work in 2012 to pay the bills? Unemployment in Jersey is at a new high – will I still be in work this time next year? If not, what about my debts, my mortgage, my flat?


And health? Cancers. Smoking. My lifestyle and its serious risks.


And relationships? What is going on? Will I still be loved in 2012?


And then there's Flamanville, Low Value Consignment Relief, Global Warming and Kim Jong-un with his 1 million not-toy soldiers and the bomb.


It seems we have a great capacity to fear - to fear the actions of others and to fear the randomness with which illness seems to strike. Perhaps we have every reason to be afraid because .... 


Because why? Why are we in Jersey afraid? We know that fear is the product of - even a response to - danger. But why are we fearful of unknown danger, of the unexpected ill?


Because it may strike at any time?


Fear comes into the Biblical record very early on. In the Garden of Eden, on the day that Adam and Eve disobeyed, Adam said to the Lord God, "I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, and I hid myself." Adam feared because he had no covering for himself, nothing to shelter behind - and he knew deep within that the Lord God was no longer on his side.....


The book of Job in the Bible's Old Testament is one of the world's oldest pieces of literature and has been carefully preserved by the Jews as part of the history of the children and (now) nation of Israel. Despite the fact that Job lived many centuries after Adam, it certainly seems that he was in a similar position to Adam. 


Although very, very wealthy and gifted with a beautiful family of grown up sons and daughters, he said (see bold above), "the thing that I fear comes upon me; what I dread befalls me; I am not at ease; I have no rest; trouble comes". The only thing that had happened to him thus far in his life was that he had lost his health through terrible skin disease, nothing else. That's enough for anyone - but Job fears more... More of what? Well, that's just it - more of what?


Adam's fear arose because he had become unattached to his creator and friend. Job's fear subsided when he became re-attached and was able to say, with total conviction, those long centuries ago: "I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold and not another."


How does this help us Jersey folk with our daily fears? The same way that it helped Job - it shifts the focus away from the fear of imminent danger, away from the fear of the unknown, away from the fear of fear itself. 

It shifts that focus towards reliance on the Redeemer from all evil and danger, Jesus Christ the Lord, and towards reliance on the Redeemer's all-knowing Father.


The trouble is, though, that I fear Him more than I fear these other things. I fear Him because He is too good - so fearfully good that He was prepared, in AD 33 in Jerusalem, to be criminalised and to be painfully tortured and executed. 


I so readily forget the reason why these things happened to Him. It was for others. It was so that, after He rose from the dead, those who had hated Him and done the killing could come to Him and be forgiven..... 


Above all my fears, then, He is still on the record saying, "Come to me." That’s why I fear Him.

‘Where fear is, happiness is not.' (Seneca BC4 - AD 65)
 ‘He who fears God fears nothing else.'    (Edmund Burke, MP, (1729-1797)
Richard Syvret

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