If you or your children grew up watching Sesame Street, you’re probably familiar with a little song called “One of These is Not Like the Others.” While the song is sung, the child is shown four different objects where three are similar and one is different and the child is asked to select the one that is not like the others. The song goes like this:
One of these is not like the others.
One of these things doesn’t belong.
Can you tell which thing is not like the others
By the time I finish this song?
The Apostle Paul plays a similar game with us when he lists four different things that God could have given us, but one of them clearly doesn’t belong with the others:
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7)
Based on the above, it’s obvious which one doesn’t belong. God has given us power and love and a sound mind. But fear? That doesn’t come from God. In fact, not only does fear not come from God, but it actually works against the other three things that do come from God:
- When we have fear, we underestimate the power of God, assuming that there’s nothing He can do (or will do) about our situation.
- When we have fear, we question the love of God, thinking, “Does God even care about me and my situation?”
- When we have fear, we develop a form of amnesia, forgetting all the things that God has already done for us, making it difficult to trust in Him.
After a long day of teaching the multitude and sharing parables with them, Jesus and His disciples board a ship to cross the Sea of Galilee on their way to the country of the Gadarenes. Jesus quickly falls asleep in the ship, but a great storm (a tempest) arises, and the high waves flood the ship, threatening to sink it in the sea.
How do the disciples react to this great storm? They freak out! They fearfully wake up Jesus, and then the Lord takes it from there:
“And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.” (Mark 4:39)
(For a musical rendition of the above story, see Hymn 262 in the Saints Hymnal, “Master, the Tempest is Raging.”)
OK, the storm is over. Does Jesus now console the disciples, saying He understands why they reacted the way they did? No, “he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?” (Mark 4:40).
Why does Jesus speak to them this way? Is He being insensitive? No, He is disappointed with their reaction because they have chosen the one thing (fear) that doesn’t come from God, the one that doesn’t go with the others:
- Instead of facing the storm calmly, knowing that the power of God would be with them, they immediately assumed they were going to die (“Master, master, we perish” — Luke 8:24).
- Instead of trusting in the Lord’s love to know that they were in His hands, they assumed He didn’t even care (“Master, carest thou not that we perish?” — Mark 4:38).
- Instead of recalling the miracles they had already witnessed Jesus perform, they were surprised that He was able to do anything about their current problem (“What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” — Mark 4:41).
How do we react when we face a great storm in our own lives? Does fear take over? Do we immediately assume the worst? (Does God even care? What can He do about this anyway?) Or, can we calmly look back over our time as a servant of God and recall the times when we faced other storms and God moved on our behalf, even miraculously?
Now, we do need to understand that facing the storms of life without fear does not necessarily guarantee us a favorable outcome in any particular situation. However, even when things turn out in the apparently worst possible way, we can still rely upon the Lord to comfort us. Picture Him saying, “Peace, be still,” as He provides “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, [to] keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).
So, when the storms of life come (and they will come), let’s condition ourselves to react in a way that demonstrates our faith in the Lord. Fear, power, love, a sound mind — one needs to be eliminated or the other three won’t work. Can you tell which thing is not like the others by the time I finish this blog? (Time’s up — hope you got it!)
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.