Understanding and Dealing With Fear (Article 20-1)
Most of us have experienced fear. In fact, I suspect some who are reading this are experiencing some form of fear(s). We may fear to be alone, while others fear being rejected. There are fears concerning injury, death, relationships, illness, love, and failure. Very concerning too is that fears can manifest into phobias – a severe and debilitating psychological and emotional condition. In fact, there are (at last count) 105 diagnosed phobias today. There’s even a phobia that fears phobias: Phobophobia!
Importance of Addressing Fear. So why is addressing “fear” an important topic? Because fear, when unchecked, can have severe physical and mental consequences. Fear, which is a perceived sense of danger or threat, ultimately can change our behavior, and very concerning, may impact on our quality of life and sense of self-worth. Fear can also cause us to hesitate to go into action, flee from life events, or even hide. Fear denies expressing who we really are as individuals and suppresses our desire and need for self-expression. In sum, Fear is torment: the causing of physical, mental, and spiritual suffering that affects our self-worth, sense of security, and ability to have peace and rest in our life. But, the primary purpose of my addressing the topic of concern is to ask the question of whether fear comes from God? After all, there seems to be no shortage of scripture that tells us to fear God. So, does God put fear in us, and do our life fears originate with God? Like all questions in life, we need to turn to scripture for our answers.
Understanding Our Call to Fear God. The prophet Isaiah says, “Our delight shall be the fear of the Lord.” (Isaiah 11:3). At a glance, this verse suggests we should fear God, and with it, be cognizant of the consequences if we do not fear God. But what is commonly missed in this verse is that we are to have “delight” in fearing God. What could possibly be “delightful” in fearing anything? To answer this question, try to imagine being in the presence of something with incredible power – a power that is so massive and intense, your only inclination is to shrink in its shadow. Then imagine your coming to the realization that the force, power, and energy you are drawn to submit to is the source, means of sustainment, and protection for your existence. Finally, imagine what it would be like if this great force and power was not in your life, or you had no access. What would be your reaction? I can’t speak for you; however, my response would be “fear.” So, my delight in my Lord is first knowing what it means to have Him in my life, and with it, the awesomeness of His power, protection, and love. With this knowledge, I’m driven to have and show great reverence for his “Almightiness” and “Holy” presence. My fear stems from what would happen if I depart from Him.
God is Not the Source of Our Fears, But Rather Our Cure. Scripture addresses fear and how to remedy it. The Apostle John says, “Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:17-19). In this verse, John first points out that love is the force that brings things together and unites, whereas fear repels and separates us from each other and God. Thus, fear cannot co-exist with love. Second, as believers, we know that Christ wants us, by way of abiding in Him and His love (John 15), to have peace and rest. Fear cannot provide this. Fear gives us only torment. With this knowledge and understanding, we can now see that fear exists in darkness and its source is the evil one and not God. It is, for this reason, John tells us that perfect love, which only comes from the One God sent (Jesus Christ), casts out fear, for light (the righteousness of Christ) casts out darkness (evilness and with it, all that is unrighteous and unholy). Very importantly, too is John reminding us that if we have fear, we do not know the love of Christ, which in turn should make us take a step back and assess the extent of our faith – the means of our salvation.
An Important Reminder. Finally, I remind all of you of one of the main tactics of Satan - a genuine, real, and supernatural evil and dark force. His tactic, which is a fundamental aspect of all warfare, is to cut your communications off with your leadership for guidance and direction – this being, Jesus Christ. With this knowledge, you know that anything that causes you to focus on yourself, thus diverting your attention and focus away from Jesus Christ and His authority, whether it stems from fear, guilt, or anger, does not come from God. Satan is the source of these emotions, and with this understanding, know that you’re under spiritual attack. If such attacks get a stronghold in your mind and eventually settle in your heart, you will not have the peace and rest which God promises all of us by way of believing and abiding in the One He sent on our behalf.
Conclusions. Fear exists in our lives because we allow it to exist. I do not question the realities we experience with fears, for they are real, as well as its consequences. However, what we must ask in dealing with our fears is the extent of our faith in God’s promises of love and, with it, its power to cast out fear in our lives. We cannot cast out our fears; however, by abiding in Christ and with it His love, we can empower our gift of the Holy Spirit’s presence and power to cast out all fears. It comes down to whether you believe this to be true?