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  • William T. Howe Ph.D.

November 10, 2023

The Bible Edge

Thank You Lord

Proverbs 28:14

Happy is the man that feareth always: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.

God created fear and in its proper usage it is a good thing. The preponderance of Scriptural teaching about fear is to “fear not.” Sixty-two verses in our Bible use that phrase. But, also, there is an appropriate time to fear. In today’s verse from Proverbs, it is stated as directly as can be stated that a person who fears always will be happy. How can this be?

I was driving down the road, going somewhere to preach, and suddenly without any real reason to do so, a sense of fear came upon me. I cannot explain it. There was no threat, no outward circumstance of danger, no real reason for it. But it was there. The kind of fear that brings trembling and stress. I pulled over somewhere and typed in “fear” in my concordance app on my phone. Today’s verse popped up. So, I decided to be happy. I started by giving thanks to the Lord for that fear. It was the first time I ever did that. I began running down all the reasons I should fear, none of which were the catalyst for the fear, but things that could happen on that trip. For the next fifty miles or so I just told the Lord everything I could imagine that could cause that fear. With each one thanking Him for warning me about those things. Then it dawned on me.

That fear was making me careful. It was making me watchful. It was making me consider dangers and how to circumvent them by various means. Frankly, it was a wonderful spiritual time in my life. For the first time I came to see fear as an ally, not an enemy. This was years ago, and from that time to this, I thank God for my fears as they serve as a constant protection detail.

God created fear for a purpose. In scouts I backpacked hundreds of miles in some of the roughest terrain North America has to offer. Our leaders were constantly warning us and teaching us safe hiking skills. Lessons like stepping over a deadfall log or stone because you don’t know if the log will break, or the stone will roll if you were to step on top of them. If they do, a sprained ankle or broken bone could result. The remoteness of the trail would make rescue difficult; it would just be bad. I remember Mr. Bailey saying, “Don’t get hurt, even by accident.” He was training us to be safe on purpose. He caused us to fear self-injury that would not only hurt us but ruin the outing for the entire troop. He used fear to keep us happily on the trail.

This is that which the Lord was doing that day, on that preaching trip. Using fear to keep me happy on the trip. I was very cautious on that trip. I didn’t want to get hurt, even by accident. Over the years of my life, I have become very safety conscious and extremely watchful, for the fear of bad consequences ensures safety. In this usage, fear is something to give thanks for, it is something that if used properly will keep us happy.

William T. Howe, Ph.D.

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