Your Fear Is Not A Sin


Image of a woman standing in a dark doorway, her back is to the camera. The text reads "The truth is our fear is not sin. Nichole Forbes"

I am empty.

Straight up. I don’t have anything left to givenot to my family, or my workplace or here, in this space. I am drained, exhausted and done. And, if I were to ask, I bet you might say the same. These last couple of weeks have been unreal. Like, teen-apocalyptic-movie genre unreal. Yet, it is all so very real.

We are caught in the same storm but in our own socially isolated boats. We are together but alone… or is it alone but together? 

And it’s Holy Week. 

I have tried really hard, these last several weeks, to filter the information coming at me. Daily we are receiving federal, provincial and municipal updates. We are given stats, predictions and protocols, which change every single day. Those changes lead to endless questions and speculation. The only thing that is constant is the sense of loss that hangs in the air after every news report and conversation.

At the end of the day, every day, I am left trying to sort out what is truth and what is fear.

At the beginning of all of this (two months and a hundred years ago) a pastor I follow on the interwebs posted an incredibly unhelpful quote that equated fear with sin. His statement was backed by the “biblical truth” that God commanded us not to fear; if we chose to be fearful we must be sinning. I have feelings about this. A lot of feelings. But that’s a rant for another time. For now, the truth is, our fear is not sin. It is not disbelief and it does not make God angry at us. Full stop, good news, gospel truth.

Each of us has been a kid and some of us are parents. Think back to a time when you were genuinely afraid. Terror filled you to the brim and you needed help so you called out for your parent or a trusted adult. Or think of a time when you have heard your child’s voice crying out in fear. How did you respond?

I began to have nightmares when I was seven years old. I would ‘see things’ in my room at night. I can still vividly recall many of these images of monsters, distorted visions of people I loved, and wee, malicious leprechauns and fairies. It seems slightly ridiculous now but I remember the very real fear I felt whenever these things would suddenly fill my room. I also remember how my mom, weary from caring for my newborn sister, would come into my room, scoop me up in her arms and carry me back to her bed. She would wrap her arms around me and stroke my hair, as she whispered, “Don’t be afraid, I’m here. Just go to sleep.”

My fear didn’t make her angry. It called up her maternal instinct to protect, to nurture and to calm me. I felt those same instincts well up inside of me when my own children raced into my room in the middle of a thunderstorm. Three tiny, trembling bodies scrambled into my bed and under my coversicy toes and alllooking for solace and protection. In response, I opened the curtains and said, “Let’s watch this storm together. I promise, it will be okay. I won’t let anything happen to you. Don’t be afraid.”

I am not superhuman in this response. I am barely human when woken in the middle of the night, to be honest. But even in my imperfect, human reaction to their cry for help, I know that my children’s fear isn’t a sign of moral weakness or faithlessness. Just saying that sounds utterly ridiculous! Yet, somehow, we are led to believe that is how God views our fear.

When God calls to us to ‘fear not,’ he’s not yelling at us. He’s not using his giant I-will-smote-the-earth voice (which I don’t think he has anyway). He’s being our dad. He’s coming to us in love, offering his protection. He is saying, “Dear one, there’s no need to fear. I’m right here.” He says this, even knowing that you will probably still be afraid. At least for a while. And this still doesn’t offend him. 

Because sometimes fear is the truest thing in the moment.

Fear isn’t a lack of faith or a moral defect. It is us, in all our humanness, processing what we see in front of us. It is our instinctual reaction to an unfamiliar happening. It can save our life and it can drive us to call out for help. It is our moment of reckoning that sometimes lasts much longer than a moment.

And that’s okay.

It’s also okay if you are feeling weary, empty and spent. It’s okay if this Holy Week doesn’t feel like others you have celebrated. It’s okay if you are feeling the grief of Good Friday and the uncertainty of Easter Eve/Black Saturday more than the joy of Resurrection Sunday. It’s all okay because none of this is sin and none of it separates you from the love and protection of God. 

The truth is God sits with you in your fear. Your fear draws him to you like a parent running to their child in the midst of a storm. God’s instinct is to love, protect and be near.

That’s the truth.