I heard once that the fear of falling was the only “natural” fear that babies have. All other fears are either taught or learned. I don’t know if this is true, or even how researchers could confirm that, but it seems to make sense. Without it, there would be no inclination that kept children from face-planting on a regular basis (except perhaps the pain that they felt when they did so.) The idea that God in His loving wisdom instilled an aversion to this dangerous habit is in keeping with what we know about God and His care for His children.
Not all fears have the positive benefit that this fear of falling does. In fact, most don’t. Instead our fears are generally rooted in the profound awareness that we are unable to control our environment. Children fear being made fun of because they won’t know how to make it stop and return to social grace. Adults fear the future because what happens in it is outside of their control. These types of fears are to our detriment, not benefit. Instead of preventing us from harm, that are instead likely to prevent us from living the life that God desires for His children – a life of obedience and trust that is dependent on Him.
As the preceding paragraph illustrates, but as we seldom consider, the root of these fears is our own pride. In Isaiah this point is made abundantly clear when God says to His people:
“I, I am he who comforts you;
who are you that you are afraid of man who dies,
of the son of man who is made like grass,” (Is. 51:12)
In other words, if we rightly considered who God is, the absurdity of our fear would be readily apparent. It is because we have taken our eyes off of Him and instead focused them on ourselves that we fear what other people can do to us. Our perspective should be one in constant awe and wonder at what the God of the Universe can do. The fact that He has condescended to comfort us and give us rest should quench any of our earthly fears. When it does not, when fear of man abounds even as we know the greatness of our God and King, it is not because He is insufficient to meet them. It is because we have taken on the task of dealing with the uncertainty and trials of life ourselves, instead of looking to Him.
It can be disconcerting to think of our fear in this way as we convince ourselves that we need to worry and fret over certain things, much like a baby should fear falling over. However, Scripture makes it clear that this type of inward concern with ourselves never produced any godly benefit (See Lk. 12:25, Mt. 6:25-34). Instead, our eyes should remain focused on the One who gave us this life, and Who in His infinite wisdom can take it away. If He has the beginning and the end under His sovereign control, we should certainly be able to trust Him with the in-between, and to look to Him, instead of ourselves, when the temptation to fear our circumstances appears.