Having recently been persuaded by my daughter that I should join the world of blogging, I had to come up with a title. Having thought about it for at least thirty seconds, I chose “fear and comfort” because that is what I keep experiencing the more I study the scriptures. The glorious promises console me, while the sharp warnings alarm me.
When I think about it, there is more than one paradox in this. First, the one of whom we are (or should be) afraid is the very same person that we must turn to for comfort. The one from whom we must be protected is the one who is our shelter and refuge. Our sole defense against the wrath of God is the mercy of God.
Secondly, in some sense, our fear is our comfort. If we do fear God, that is a sign that we have good reason to be comforted. The Bible repeatedly treats “the fear of the Lord” not as a disease, but a characteristic earmark of those who are approved by God.
So walking in both the fear of the Lord and the comfort of the Holy Spirit, seeking our refuge in the one from whom we are fleeing, seems to be the lot of a true believer. This odd tension is well described in Psalm 2:11-12:
“Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.”
P.S. This picture is supposed to illustrate the dichotomy of fear and comfort. You see the lightning is supposed to be kind of scary but the field is supposed to be kind of comforting. Oh, well.