Recently, I came to the end of my backpacking skills. As I faced terrain that was new and difficult, I found myself desperately depending on the Lord for everything. My fear of slipping, tripping, falling, and even collapsing hurled me at the feet of Jesus. Praying to, singing about, and reflecting on Him enabled me to endure the physical, emotional, and mental challenges. “And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places” (Hab 3:19) pounded through my mind and heart multiple times. I wasn’t hiking Mount Everest, but this trail was my high place!
Fear is common to humans. Fear can come from a sense that something is uncontrollably powerful or evil. Some face fears such as natural disasters, failing, embarrassment, rejection, crisis, loneliness, inadequacy, finances, aging, health, or parenting. To compensate for these fears, the natural tendency is to turn to human devices. These could be plans, possessions, abilities, knowledge, emotions, manipulation, or avoidance. The Bible refers to these human devices as spider’s webs and houses.
“Such are the paths of all who forget God; the hope of the godless shall perish. His confidence is severed, and his trust is a spider’s web. He leans against his house, but it does not stand; he lays hold of it, but it does not endure” (Job 8:13-15).
Human devices are like spider’s webs and houses; they are unstable and will collapse. When fears emerge, a woman who puts her confidence in her plans, possessions, abilities, knowledge, emotions, manipulation, or avoidance will find these to be like spider’s webs and houses. They will collapse.
However, there is a different kind of fear than from a sense that something is uncontrollably powerful or evil. The fear of the Lord is different. Mary A. Kassian explains fear of the Lord as “a deep awe and worshipful respect for our Creator and a sense of our own creaturely dependence on him. Fearing God entails a proper perspective of who he is and who we are in relation to him”. This type of fear can be viewed as trust. When we are afraid, we should put our trust in God (Ps 56:4). From the Latin root to trust, we get the word confidence. In the Bible’s view of confidence, trust is central. “In the fear of the LORD one has strong confidence” (Prov 14:26). A woman who fears the Lord has her confidence rightly placed as she depends on the Lord. This woman will display humility and grit at the same time. She is not gripped with fear in her circumstances but demonstrates confidence rightly placed.
A quick survey of Scriptures reveals the abounding benefits from fearing the Lord and putting our confidence (trust) in Him as opposed to human devices. Those who fear the Lord receive His mercy (Luke 1:50), His compassion (Ps 103:13), are blessed (Jer 17:7), and have no lack (Ps 34:9). They won’t turn from God (Jer 32:40) and their foot will not be caught (Prov 3:26). They also receive the beginning of knowledge (Pro 1:7), the beginning of wisdom (Ps 111:10), and will have strength (Isa 30:15). Fearing the Lord is a basic and essential attitude for a disciple of Christ. Fear of the Lord holds the key to rightly placed confidence.
Kassian suggests some practical ways to build confidence that I find helpful. She suggest to expand your view of God. Pursue Him in His Word. Also, think rightly about yourself. Ever since Adam and Eve partook of the forbidden fruit, humans think they know more than God which results in an inflated or deflated view of themselves. The truth is our identity is in Christ and what He thinks of us. Furthermore, we need to dispose of our fear of others. God alone knows what we should be doing and knows the accurate view of our actions. Finally, we need to stop relying on human devices to develop our confidences and trust in God (Ps 20:6-7).
In regard to my recent backpacking adventure, fear did not grip or paralyze me. As I turned to the Lord, I found my strength and confidence. Other times in my life fear has gripped me; however, this positive outcome encourages me to trust in God instead of human devices when I face other fears in my life.
What fears have you been plagued by repeatedly or recently? Do you find yourself turning to human devices or to God?
For your consideration: Mary A. Kassian’s, book The Right Kind of Confident: The Remarkable Grit of a God-Fearing Woman, Nashville, TN: Nelson Books, 2021.
Image from Free Images, accessed November 11, 2021, https://www.freeimages.com/photo/summer-spider-web-1191527.  Mary A. Kassian, The Right Kind of Confident: The Remarkable Grit of a God-Fearing Woman (Nashville, TN: Nelson Books, 2021), 41.
 Ibid., 15.
 Ibid., 147-67.