I’m reading a book about Harry Hopkins, who worked in a variety of roles for Franklin Roosevelt while Roosevelt was president. Among the things that Hopkins did was to write and edit many of Roosevelt’s speeches. In the book there is a brief reference to one particular speech, the “Four Freedoms” speech, which Roosevelt gave before Congress in January, 1941. The four freedoms were things that Roosevelt believed should be held by everyone in the world. Specifically they were freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear. It was this last freedom, from fear, which I found myself pondering.
Regarding fear, Roosevelt said this: “The fourth is freedom from fear—which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor—anywhere in the world.”
Roosevelt delivered this speech while war was raging in Europe and Asia, a war in which the US would join later in the same year, following the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Freedom from fear, both in the US and the world, remains an elusive goal. We who live in the US today, post-911, know something of the kind of fear that Roosevelt referred to on a daily basis in the form of the War on Terror, where US troops are engaged in multiple foreign countries and the Department of Homeland Security is active at home.
But we who live in Christ know something else about where we may find freedom from fear, and that is in God’s word.
Yesterday I was reading Psalm 118, and it spoke directly to fear and our source of freedom, real and abiding freedom. Verses 5-7 say:
“Out of my distress I called on the LORD;
the LORD answered me and set me free.
The LORD is on my side; I will not fear.
What can man do to me?
The LORD is on my side as my helper;
I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.”
The Psalmist isn’t saying that we will never suffer harm. The things we fear may bring about very real physical and emotional harm to our bodies and minds. But even so, God will always be God and the promises of His word will always be true. The Psalmist reminds us of this in the verses that bracket the Psalm as both its opening and closing words:
Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever!
The abiding love of God, revealed in Christ, is the true source of peace and the freedom from fear, both in the world and throughout eternity. May you know His peace each and every time fear arises in your life.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.