Do not fear,
for I am with you;
Do not be dismayed,
for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you
with my righteous right hand.
Scripture tells us clearly, “Do not fear.” For many years I read such verses as commands—commands I could not seem to obey. As a result, I wondered if something was wrong with my faith when I experienced fear.
Fear is a very uncomfortable emotion that we would all be happy to be rid of. We wish we could simply stop feeling afraid. But it is not so simple.
Fear is a normal and important response to danger. It is an emotion which allows us to protect ourselves when we are threatened. If we did not experience fear, we would not get out of the way of an oncoming car and we would not go to the doctor when we experience pain.
The fears we experience with cancer include fears about our immediate well being, fears about the future and fears about the many uncertainties that we face because of the way cancer seems to threaten everything in our lives. Sometimes the fear we experience may be so intense that it feels like a black cloud engulfing us.
Scriptures which tell us not to fear are not telling us to quickly get rid of this normal human emotion. The words “do not fear” are, rather, spoken as words of comfort. These words are always followed by a specific promise of God’s presence with us. Much like a parent comforts a child who awakens from a nightmare with words such as, “Its okay, I’m here with you; you are safe,” God says to us, “I know you are afraid, but I am here with you; I will not leave you; you are safe in my arms.”
The more we are able to take in the full extent of God’s love for us, the more we are able to hear these words ‘do not fear’ and experience God’s presence and comfort.
He tends his flock like a shepherd;
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.
Questions for Discussion – Session 1
1. What specific fears have you experienced because of cancer?
2. What helps you when you are afraid?
3. What reasons do the verses from Isaiah give for not being afraid?
4. What fears do you face this week that you need God’s help to face?
Questions for Discussion – Session 2
For this discussion, read Matthew 6:25-34 aloud before reading the questions.
1. What makes it difficult to trust God in the struggle with cancer?
2. List the reasons Jesus gives in this text for trusting God.
3. Which of these reasons for trusting God do you especially need to hear?