Have you noticed how many words we have for fear in the English language? What is fascinating is how they provide for a wide range of emotions from terror at one end of the scale to caution at the other. Being pursued by a hungry lion is very different from prudently holding back in an unfamiliar environment. Our choice of words is not just determined by the size of the threat but how reasonable our fear is. Phobias are imaginary fears such as claustrophobia,- fear of small spaces – arachnophobia, fear of spiders – or agoraphobia, fear of crowds. We do not talk about tiger phobia!
For some people, fear is a brief experience of a perceived threat but for others, it can easily become a chronic state which has lost sight of its original trigger. It has nevertheless become disabling.
Is there good fear or is all fear just a matter of weakness? King Solomon talked of fearing God as the beginning of knowledge,(Prov.1:7) and how the fear of God prolongs life. (Prov.10:27) Peter drew a careful distinction between our attitude to the government which in his time was often unjust and merciless but was to be honoured and our attitude to God who was to be feared. (I Pet.2:17) John, on the other hand, promised that perfect love casts out fear. (I Jn.4:18) In the end are there just two kinds of fear, the fear of God which recognises that He is so much bigger than us and our problems and the fear of everything else? Unlike the rest of Israel, David did not fear Goliath who was so much bigger than him because he feared God knowing how much He loved him. (I Sam.17)
Paul spelt out the process for handling all the wrong kinds of fear. He encouraged us to have no anxiety about anything but instead to follow four simple steps. First, to pray – to listen to God. Second, to do so with supplication, recognising we are just helpless beggars totally unable to handle the problem ourselves. Third, to focus instead on Thanksgiving because it is such a relief to know that He can handle anything. Finally, we are to make our requests known to God, one by one we are to put every moment into His hands. (Phil.4:6,7) And the result? The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts, (your emotions) and minds, (your thoughts) in the knowledge of Christ Jesus. He works! Wow, what a relief!
Author: Tony Hanne
Picture credit: Travis Silva