THE FEAR FACTOR
That’s a bit of a silly question, isn’t it? Every person on the planet has been afraid of something, at some point. Fear is an interesting phenomenon. It can save your life, or it can kill you.
Healthy fear, the kind that can save your life, or save you from an unpleasant situation, we all know about. It’s the fear we teach our children: “Don’t cross the road without looking both ways.”
In other words, be afraid of moving traffic.
“Don’t touch the stove when it’s hot.” – Be afraid of burning your fingers.
“Don’t drink anything from an unlabelled bottle.” – Be afraid of poisoning yourself.
We didn’t think of giving that warning to our 3 year old son, and he found a bottle in someone’s garage and swallowed some turpentine, which triggered years of asthma.
Healthy fear is therefore very necessary.
There is fear that we would regard as “normal”: Fear of losing my job, tied in with fear of losing my income and being unable to support my family. There is fear of losing my health, of being diagnosed with something incurable, of pain. We stay off the streets after dark because we’re afraid of being mugged, or worse. And it goes on – all, you might say, normal fears, common to most people.
Yet some of them can easily morph into abnormal fear. Fear of losing our health can eventually take over our thinking to the extent that every ache or pain brings panic. Fear of going out after dark can finally turn into fear of going out of our house at all. Fear of job loss can create such stress that we become unable to give our best at work. The bottom line is, Fear can cripple us.
Where does fear spring from?
It can be the result of a bad childhood environment – parents who threatened us in some way, or maybe abused us. It might be triggered by things we see or hear at a vulnerable place in our lives. There are people who scare themselves silly by a constant diet of horror stories in movies and books, then they wonder why they’re so fearful.
Fear is a very powerful emotion and once it takes hold, it’s almost impossible to get rid of. It steals our peace of mind, it can destroy, or at the least, spoil our enjoyment of life. It can even, occasionally, be the death of someone.
Jesus said: The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. The one who is “the” thief, is Satan. He will stir up fear in you by any possible means and then torment you with it. Psychologists tell us that all fear is rooted in one basic fear – the fear of death.
There is only one who can set us free from this damaging emotion – and that one is Jesus.
We have just recently remembered his death and resurrection.
He said: “I AM the Resurrection and the Life. The one who believes in me will never die.”
The Bible says: By embracing death, taking it into himself, he destroyed the devil’s hold on death and freed all who cower through life, scared to death of death. (Hebrews 2v15. Message Bible).
Only by an act of surrender to him, trusting him with our lives, will we find that the basic fear gives way to peace. Maybe not overnight, because it’s always a process, but
as our trust in him grows.