Fear ends where redemption begins. Once you are no longer your own but belong to God, rest and security can finally belong to you. Fear is only reserved for those who are still in charge of themselves and their future. And why shouldn’t it be? No man can see the future nor control all the variables to accomplish his will 100% of the time. Uncertainty, doubt, and fear will certainly surround the shadowed sight of man, for, despite one’s cleverness, they will always, inevitably fail.
But once your life no longer belongs to you, once it has been redeemed by God, fear is no longer necessary. That does not mean that the God who can, always will. But why should He? Why, when He has unlimited knowledge of all the variables and unlimited power at His disposal to accomplish Good, should He conform to the limited perspective and desires of a fallible human being? He has redeemed us from this fallenness. Should He, then, incorporate Himself into it just to satisfy our temporary pleasures? No! Indeed He should not! Rather, we ought to conform ourselves to the new paradigm of living as one who knows that even when something hurts or doesn’t go our way, God is still working all things together for good.
Fear has no place among the redeemed for we live under the sovereign, loving hand of God. Those who understand this truth understand that we should not call unclean what God has called clean, or call “bad” what God has called “good.”
The redeemed may experience pain in their life, but it is for good.
They may experience sorrow, but it is for good.
They may have joy and blessing, but it is for good.
Therefore, if we call something given to us by God “bad,” we not only misunderstand the nature and the love of God but we also misunderstand what “good” is.
Too often we reduce the definition of good and bad to an existential understanding, such as “what’s good or bad FOR ME.” Things that bring additions, pleasure, or life to our existence we define as “good”; while things that bring loss, pain, or death we define as “bad.” Such is the nature of a limited perspective and the type of argument Satan used to squander Adam and Eve out of eternal goodness for their lives.
But God defines these terms in a much broader context, for God does not seek to improve your life. He seeks to redeem it. In other words, God does not seek to improve or remodel the quality of your temporary existence. He wants to raze the building altogether; to cleanse you of your sins, rebuild your soul, and integrate your new life into the eternal, cosmic purposes of His will for all Creation. This is how God defines “good.” Anything opposed to this goal, or anything that tries to thwart it, is “bad.”
Using these definitions, then, one can see how God can allow Job to lose everything precious to him in a single day, John the Baptist to be beheaded, or Jesus Christ to be crucified. Taken in isolation, each event appears to be a tragedy, a “bad” thing. But this is a nearsighted view of the truth. When we put on the corrective lenses of God’s will, we see that each event is actually good, because it moves the narrative of God’s purposes towards their inevitable, worshipful conclusion.
This does not mean we should not grieve when loss or pain occur. However, it does mean we should not fear. Fear anticipates something negative occurring. In other words, it embraces the possibility of “bad” and treats it in the heart as a reality. But those who have been redeemed have been baptized into the goodness of God. They have been given a promise that “God causes ALL things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Rom. 8:28) so that they may know that “bad” has been permanently removed from their life.
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you” is a command followed by a reason. It is a response shaped by a reality. It is boldness defined by the miraculous, so that every believer may know that nothing, regardless of the circumstance, can separate them from the love of God and can, therefore, embolden them to proclaim: “In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me?” (Ps. 56:4)