I recently watched the movie “Jaws” again for the first time in many years. My Dad took me to the theater to see it when it first came out. I do not remember my Dad as one who was easy to scare or startle, so I had to smile during the scene where Richard Dreyfuss’ character, Matt Hooper, is underwater inspecting the sunken fishing boat. The moment when the corpse of the fisherman came out of the hole in the boat was the only time in my life I really remember my Dad jumping and making a “verbal noise” from being startled.
It is natural for us to put our dads on a pedestal of sorts and think of them as brave and unwavering. My Dad is one of my heroes. I think of him that way because of what he overcame, what he accomplished, and how he treated others. Now, with some maturity and experience of my own, I am pretty sure that watching that scene, in that dark theater, was not the only time he was startled, and I am sure there were times of fear in his life.
Fear can be paralyzing. To stick with “Jaws” for a moment, if Matt Hooper gave into his fear, he would not have gone into the cage to try to kill the giant beast. If Chief Brody gave into his fear, he would not have went on the boat, even if were a “bigger boat.” Quint showed no fear until the end when his pride and arrogance resulted in him being the shark’s last supper.
Some Bible scholars say the Bible contains 365 verses that in one way or the other tells us to “fear not”. I have done some independent study on this and cannot find 365 such verses even using a very liberal definition of God telling us not to fear. But the concept of not fearing is in the Bible often—so we can assume God means it! To me the bottom line is that if God says something even only once, we can put our trust and faith in it being the truth.
One of the most personally meaningful verses to me is Isaiah 41:10, “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.”
The original audience for this message were the exiled Jews suffering through their captivity in Babylon. But since God is timeless His promises apply to us if we are in relationship with Jesus. We are not alone, we need not be saddened, in our weakness He is our strength, He lifts us up against anything and everything.
This does not mean we won’t be startled or even afraid at times; what it does mean is “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4)