Fear of the unknown is a powerful force. Consider the movie Jaws.
When Steven Spielberg’s classic thriller about a voracious great white shark hit theaters in 1975, an entire generation reconsidered swimming in the ocean. Now, almost fifty years after the film’s release, “the Jaws effect,” as it’s sometimes called, still haunts the minds of beachgoers.
Part of the genius—and enduring horror—of Jaws is that the shark is a malevolent yet mostly unseen creature lurking below. In the two-hour film, Spielberg’s dorsal-finned instrument of fear is only on screen for about four minutes total, and it doesn’t fully appear until the one-hour, twenty-one-minute mark. Spielberg masterfully terrified us with what we largely couldn’t see.
While there are no twenty-five-foot, man-eating sharks in today’s reading, Genesis 15 reveals Abraham’s struggle with a different fear of the unknown. Abram was probably in his early-to-mid eighties and still waiting for God to fulfill His great promise—given when Abram was seventy-five—to make him “into a great nation” (Genesis 12:2). One problem: Abram and his wife, Sarah, were still childless. Even in the age of long-living patriarchs, Abram didn’t like his chances.
“Lord GOD, what can you give me, since I am childless and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” he cried (Genesis 15:2). Abram didn’t know when or if God would keep His word. He feared the unknown—a future he couldn’t see, a promise not yet tangible.
During his twenty-five-year wait for his son, Isaac, Abraham tried to take matters into his own hands a few times. He asked God to make Eliezer, a servant, his heir, and he also bore a son with Sarah’s servant, Hagar.
But that night in Genesis 15, God graciously turned His promise into a binding covenant with Abram. The Lord revealed Himself to Abram, shared specific details about Israel’s future, and called for Abram’s trust.
What are you walking through today? Is your faith wavering as you endure a trial? Do you fear the unknown as you wait for God to fulfill His promises found in His Word?
Take heart! We serve a God who knows all our fears, loves us unconditionally, and is mighty to save. “The LORD is the strength of his people; he is a stronghold of salvation for his anointed” (Psalm 28:8).
Fear and doubt are spiritual predators, seeking to devour our faith in their malevolent jaws. When they pursue, ask the Lord God Almighty for grace and strength. Remember God’s steadfast love and promises, which do not change. The God who was exceedingly patient with Abram shows the same care for His children today—even (especially) in our human frailty. As He says in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.”
We have nothing to fear with the Lord on our side.