by Marvin Olasky
Posted on Wednesday, October 15, 2014, at 6:44 pm
When a person exposed to the Ebola virus is on airplane flights between Cleveland and Dallas, we do have to wonder about the competence of federal officials who tell us not to fear. A higher authority, though, has a different lesson about fear, and He is utterly trustworthy.
First, a word about fear: We learn to fear early on, and my own past may be like yours, but more extreme. I grew up 5 miles from the Atlantic Ocean but as a child went into it only once, with my mom making sure I wore sneakers in the surf, because “a broken bottle could be in the water.” She also made sure that hamburgers were extremely well done, almost turned into hard black balls, because “there could be bacteria.”
Some fears were more realistic. Parents warned children about polio: “You might die, or be unable to walk, or have to live in an iron lung.” Kids heard whispers about nuclear bombs, and at age 12, during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, I read Nevil Shute’s novel On the Beach, where war results in the extinction of all humans. I timed how long it would take to go from our second floor apartment to the basement in case of nuclear attack.
I had a heavy burden of fears and, unlike Pilgrim in John Bunyan’s wonderful tale, I can’t entirely shake that legacy. Ebola reminds me of a fearful childhood. Today I plugged “fear” into Google and got 32 million results in one-fifth of a second. Then I did the same with my English Standard Version online Bible and got 348 results—much more manageable, much wiser.
Here are just two of them: In Luke 12:4, Jesus says, “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do.” In Isaiah 41:10, God says, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
None of this means we should settle for an incompetent government. We can do better, and we should strive to improve, but we should not fear.