Fear. We all have things that we are afraid of, and many of them are legitimate. Chapman University has begun an annual study of American fears, and the results from the second annual survey that have recently been released. The random survey questions cover 88 fears in various categories, such as crime, economic, environment, government, illness, claustrophobia, public speaking, and even questions about clowns.
They found that in 2016 Americans were most afraid of “Corrupt Government” by a whopping 60.6% The next closest fear was of a “Terrorist Attack” which bore a percentage of 41% with “Not having enough money for the future” coming in as number 3 with a percentage of 39.9%.
Clearly, our world is full of fearful things, and this has been true throughout all of history. There have always been tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, severe ice storms, etc. Then, too, some of the things that mankind is capable of today were not dreamed of 1000 years ago, or even just 100 years ago, but even then there were fearful things. Consider the 1st Century Christians and the persecution under Nero or the harm done to Christians in the Middle Ages, or even more recently, to the persecution of Christians in many countries of our world today. These are fearful times.
But, sometimes, looking back on our fears, we laugh at how we could have been frightened at all. For example, we watch the original television Star Trek series now, 50 years after its original airing in 1966, and we wonder how we could have been frightened by the special effects in that program! They are now so “cheesy” to us, but then I well remember being glued to my chair in fear that Captain Kirk was going to be vaporized!
My Grandmother was beyond fearful and well into terrorized when she lost track of me while she was babysitting when my parents were at some appointment away from the house. She was from a small town in Wisconsin and we lived in the big city of Chicago.
Downtown Chicago. This picture was taken from the top of the Prudential Building, “Top of the Rock”, in the early 1960s.
She was uncomfortable in such a large city and she just “knew” that there were evils hidden around every corner. One problem she had was that she remembered that the infamous gangster Al Capone lived in Chicago, and when my parents returned home, they found her in the middle of the street, screaming my name, crying that Al Capone had kidnapped me. (Actually, he had been dead for about 4 years at this point, but that was irrelevant to Grandma.) I had simply walked away from the house with my puppy and had gone to a house around the corner to show my friend’s Grandmother my puppy. She invited me in for cookies and I was watching the Howdy Doody Show on TV unaware that Grandma was in the street screaming.
Fears can cripple us from rational thinking. They are disabling and they damage our lives in ways that are too numerable to count. Fears of flying, fears of spiders, fears of going outside, fears of being in large crowds, fears of high places, fears of being in small spaces. The number of fears is too great to count because they are the fabrication of our own minds and each of us are unique.
Certainly there are fears that are normal. If we are in the woods and are bitten by a poisonous snake, we need to take immediate action to remedy the problem. But the fear of potentially being bitten by poisonous snakes should not stop us from enjoying God’s creation in nature, and even in the woods.
Scripture has quite a bit to say about fear. In Isaiah 35:3-4 we read:
Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.”
In Joshua 1:9, God is directing Joshua in how he is to lead the people after Moses’ death. God says:
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
This peace and lack of fear is available for the believer in Jesus Christ and in our God, as is seen by David’s psalm:
Even though I walk through the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
I suggest that the ultimate antidote to fear is found in Romans 8:28, 38-39:
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. … For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Read that again – NOTHING will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
God is omnipotent and omniscient … He is all powerful and all knowing. Therefore, He not only knows what is going to happen to us, He has it in His control. His purposes will be fulfilled even if they are difficult for us to understand and to live through. We have to have faith that our Heavenly Father will not put more on us than we can handle (although at times in my life I have thought that perhaps He had more confidence in me than I had). During the rough times in my life, I have rested on Paul’s comment about his own “thorn in the flesh”:
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
2 Corinthians 12:7-9.
Fears – yes, we all have them. But thanks be to God they don’t have to be disabling. No, we are more than conquerors through Christ who saved us. When we are weak, then God is strong through us. When we are afraid, He will give us courage. God has promised that His grace is sufficient for us, no matter what the trial might be.
Listen to the song “Perfect Peace” as sung on the album Scripture Memory Songs – Overcoming Anxiety. The words are taken from Scripture and provide balm for troubled hearts.
And the peace of God which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:7 [KJV]
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.
Isaiah 26:3 [KJV]
Father, I pray that these words from your Word will provide comfort and blessing to those who read them and that Your perfect peace will rest and abide on us even during tumultuous times because we have confidence that You are in control.