All of us feel fear when we’re about to do something that involves considerable risk. Risk, after all, means there’s n o guarantee of success. And usually when we feel fear, we don’t proceed.
But fear is a fruit, not the root. The root is unbelief in our hearts. That’s why the greatest obstacle to a life marked by serving the Lord and being obedient to His prompts is not fear … but unbelief.
Unbelief is our unwillingness to believe that God is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do. When we respond with unbelief, we are saying to God, “You are not trustworthy. Therefore, if I am faced with a situation that depends on You to come through, I won’t take a risk.”
Think about what unbelief looks like from God’s perspective. It could be illustrated by the boy who refuses to jump into his father’s arms because he believes his dad won’t catch him … and may not even want to. Or by Peter refusing to get out of the boat because he believed that if he started to sink, Jesus would not reach out to save him. Or by any one of us who have been saved, blessed, protected, provided for, and comforted by our heavenly Father, only to tell Him, “Yes, You have done all those things and more for me, and I know that You have my best interests at heart, but I still don’t trust You.”
When the residents of Nazareth didn’t have faith in Jesus despite observing His miracles firsthand, He “marveled because of their unbelief.” Why did Jesus marvel? Because they clung to their unbelief in the face of overwhelming evidence that they should have clung to their faith.
The lesson for us is clear. We don’t tear down unbelief in our hearts by trying to muster up our courage or by fanning the flames of emotion. We tear it down by rejecting the lies, claiming the truth, and acting on it. Then we take courage in spite of fear … and we step out of the boat.