Every fear is a big fear—that is kind-a the nature of fear. But at the same time, we do understand that some fears are so big that they completely overwhelm other fears. For example, upon spotting an eight-legged creature on your kitchen floor, a fear of spiders might completely remove (at least temporarily) a fear of what people think of you as you utter a shriek that makes your neighbours’ ears ring. Every fear is of serious concern to each of us, but there are fears that overwhelm other fears.
Joseph understood this when he told his brothers “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God?” (Gen 50:19). You see, his brothers feared him because of his political power and his ability to repay their evil with justice. But Joseph understood that God is the real one to fear. Not only does God have more power than Joseph, and not only can God repay their evil with justice far more than Joseph can, but God can also, and this was Joseph’s point, God can also do what nobody else can—God can turn their evil into good (Gen 50:20).
We fear man because of the evil they can do. We fear pandemics because of the sickness, death, and personal pain they can bring. We fear authorities because of the power they can abuse. But we fear God in a very, very, different way. We fear God because of the unusual good He can do.
The fear of man is a snare (Pro 29:25), but the fear of the LORD is a fountain of life (Pro 14:27).
The fear of earthly things often causes us to sin, but the fear of the LORD keeps us from sin (Ex 20:20).
The fear of an enemy brings dismay, but the fear of the LORD brings courage and comfort (Dt 31:6).
The fear of uncertainty when decisions need to be made make us turn to all kinds of opinions, but the fear of the LORD makes us walk in truth and holiness (Is 8:11-13).
The fear that accompanies our daily worries fades away when we fear the one Who guarantees our eternal safety (Matt 10:28-33).
Every fear feels like a big fear, but in reality there is only one big fear, and it brings blessing. When the LORD is our “big fear”, then every other fear is subdued back to its appropriate place.