Freedom From Fear
CAN anyone living in today’s dangerous world be completely free from fear? Hardly. Even people who have faith in God face dangers that cause anxiety. For example, during the first century C.E., the well-traveled apostle Paul mentioned that he experienced shipwreck, dangers from rivers, dangers from highwaymen, and dangers in the city. (2 Corinthians 11:25-28) Likewise today, most of us have to face dangerous situations.
We can take wise precautions, however, and by reducing our risks, we may reduce our anxieties. The Bible says: “Shrewd is the one that has seen the calamity and proceeds to conceal himself, but the inexperienced have passed along and must suffer the penalty.” (Proverbs 22:3) What are some practical measures to take?
Interestingly, although the Bible was written long ago, it contains many principles that are still practical in avoiding dangers today. For example, it says: “As regards anyone wise, his eyes are in his head; but the stupid one is walking on in sheer darkness.” (Ecclesiastes 2:14) It makes sense to be aware of who is around you and to avoid dark places when possible. Maybe you can walk home using the best-lit streets possible, even if it means walking a little farther. The Bible also says: “Two are better than one . . . If somebody could overpower one alone, two together could make a stand against him.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9, 12) If you live in a dangerous area, can you arrange to walk home with someone?
If a mugger holds you up, it is wise to remember that life is more valuable than possessions. (Matthew 16:26) It is worth remembering, too, that when crowds gather to express anger, they are dangerous and unpredictable.
If you are harassed by someone who makes immoral suggestions, tells obscene jokes, or tries to touch you, it is best to reject him firmly. You may need to take your leave, as Joseph did when an immoral woman grabbed him. He “took to flight and went on outside.” (Genesis 39:12) If leaving is impossible, you could say: “Stop that!” or “Keep your hands to yourself!” or “I don’t appreciate that kind of talk.” If you can, avoid places where harassment is common.
Coping With Fear at Home
What can you do if you fear a violent husband? It may be wise to have an escape plan in case your husband’s conduct should suddenly threaten your health or life or that of your children.* The Bible relates how Jacob carefully prepared an escape plan to follow if his brother Esau became violent. As things turned out, the plan was not needed, but it was a wise precaution. (Genesis 32:6-8) An escape plan may involve finding someone who would receive you in an emergency. You could discuss in advance with that person what your needs might be. Having important documents and other essentials handy might be advisable.
Reporting your husband’s abuse to the authorities and seeking their protection may also be an option.* The Bible teaches that all must face the consequences of their actions. (Galatians 6:7) Of governmental authority, the Bible says: “It is God’s minister to you for your good. But if you are doing what is bad, be in fear.” (Romans 13:4) Assault is as much a crime at home as it is on the street. Stalking is also a crime in many countries.
Taking the measures we have discussed may alleviate fear to an extent. But the Bible offers more than practical advice. It is not a mere self-help manual. It is a book of unfailing prophecies that reveals what God is doing now and will do in the future. What hope does the Bible hold out for people who are forced to live in fear?
What the Climate of Fear Means
Significantly, the apostle Paul wrote: “In the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here. For men will be lovers of themselves, . . . having no natural affection, not open to any agreement, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness.” (2 Timothy 3:1-3) What fearsome times those words describe!
When Jesus spoke about “the conclusion of the system of things,” he said: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there will be great earthquakes, and in one place after another pestilences and food shortages; and there will be fearful sights and from heaven great signs.” (Matthew 24:3, 7, 8; Luke 21:10, 11) Therefore, the “fearful sights” that we have seen and that contribute to the present climate of fear should not surprise us. But what do they mean?
Jesus said: “When you see these things occurring, know that the kingdom of God is near.” (Luke 21:31) In our time, we can expect a government by God to rule from heaven over all mankind. (Daniel 2:44) What will life be like then?
Freedom From Fear!
The Bible describes a future time of peace when wars will cease, evildoers will be no more, and the earth will be filled with people who love God. Peter, an apostle of Jesus, wrote about a future “day of judgment and of destruction of the ungodly men.” There will not be anyone evil to fear because “righteousness is to dwell” on earth. (2 Peter 3:7, 9, 13) Imagine the relief of living among trustworthy people who truly love one another! This prospect helps us to see the present dangerous times in a different light. They will not continue indefinitely.
For the benefit of those suffering anxiety, Jehovah’s prophet was told: “Say to those who are anxious at heart: ‘Be strong. Do not be afraid. Look! Your own God will come with vengeance itself, God even with a repayment. He himself will come and save you people.’” (Isaiah 35:4) Thus, servants of the true God can look to the future with confidence. (Philippians 4:6, 7) For people who have had to live in fear, it is most comforting to know that Jehovah has not abandoned his original purpose for the earth to be filled with people who know him and reflect his loving qualities.
We know that nothing can prevent Jehovah from fulfilling his loving purposes for mankind. (Isaiah 55:10, 11; Romans 8:35-39) When we understand this, the words of a very well-known psalm take on special meaning. There we read: “Jehovah is my shepherd. . . . My soul he refreshes. He leads me in the tracks of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk in the valley of deep shadow, I fear nothing bad, for you are with me.” (Psalm 23:1-4) Although fearsome times may worsen, a world free from fear is near and is sure.
Concerning circumstances in which separating from a marriage partner might be in harmony with Bible principles, see Awake! of February 8, 2002, page 10.
Concerning victims of domestic violence, see Awake! of November 8, 2001, pages 3-12, and Awake! of February 8, 1993, pages 3-14.
[Pictures on page 8-10]
God will soon bring about a world free from fear