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Fear Factor

by UNC Contributor

It seems that people everywhere today are suffering from some sort of mental strain. Millions worry about family problems, business pressures, the economy and the state of our nation. Others experience anxiety and nervous strain over health problems and financial woes. Someone once said that this is no longer the nuclear age, but rather the age of fear of the unknown and the unexpected. Certainly since 9/11, this age of fear seems to be more prevalent.

Needless to say, fear robs us of contentment, injects negative emotions into our personality, and creates a toxic effect on our individual and collective health. In extreme cases it can even ruin our entire lives.

Not all fears, however, are harmful. Without normal healthy fears none of us would be alive.

Proper fear is merely the drive for self-protection. Without this kind of fear, we would not exercise proper caution against accidents, disease and injuries. Helpful fears, when properly managed, protect us from a host of potential hazards and dangers.

However, when the mind is plagued with unhealthy fear, the natural fear for self-protection is turned into the unnatural fear for protection of self. As a foe, fear works against us internally to sabotage healthy living.

When we're assailed by threats from the outside, we sometimes disable ourselves with fears from within that can turn obsessive. This sabotaging fear distorts our perception of ourselves and the reality of the dangers we face. It erodes confidence that we can handle a particular threatening relationship or situation and come out of it intact. This form of anxiety undermines even the best of plans with insecurity, inadequacy, and self-doubt, which leads to a loss of heart that is crippling, and increases our vulnerability to danger.

Consequently, numerous phobias torment us and rob us of happiness and well-being. When destructive fear is entrenched in our lives, we must remember that the eternal God is greater than all our fears. He desires to empower us to dismantle and demolish fear's strongholds in our lives. (2 Corinthians 10:4) Fear must be uprooted and the truth which makes us free needs to be implanted in our lives. Life is never risk free, but freedom from overwhelming fear empowers us to enjoy all that God offers us in a fallen world.

God's Word defines fear in 1 John 4:18 as torment or punishment. Indeed fear is torment, especially if it consumes us with worry and despair. That is why our Creator, in other places in scripture, gives us direction as to what to do when unhealthy fears overwhelm us.

Speaking through the prophet Isaiah, God tells us not to fear, for He will always be there for us in time of trouble. "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand." (Isaiah 41:10).

Jesus tells us not to allow fear to overcome us. When speaking to His disciples in the book of John He tells them, "Let not your heart be troubled, you believe in God, believe also in me" (John 14:1).

On another occasion He said, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30).

The Psalmist David also promises us God's Divine deliverance from troubles and fear. He writes: "The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry… The righteous cry out and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles" (Psalm 34:15, 17).

Another area in which to deal with fear, according to scriptures, is love. The apostle John writes, "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" (1 John 4:18).

Love is the perfection of God's law according to the spirit and intent. By loving and obeying God's commandments, we avoid the dangers and pitfalls of unhealthy fears. God has promised us that instead of being plagued by fear, He will fill us with love, power and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).

This kind of mind enables us to put our trust in God in time of trouble instead of being consumed with the fears and cares of this world. Allowing God's spirit to dwell in us can indeed give us the kind of faith that brings a soundness of mind to confidently deal with the storms of life. The early Church of God had peace and contentment, "…walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit…" (Acts 9:31).

There is no better life than living according to and safely within the laws of God. Living outside of God's divine laws, one runs enormous risks of becoming victim to the multitudes of fears and phobias of this world.

Our Creator has set dynamic spiritual laws in motion. If we choose to violate these laws, we will eventually pay the consequences.

We should choose rather to develop the healthy fear of God. Fear in this sense means a healthy respect and adoration for our bountiful Father in heaven who supplies our every need. How different this kind of fear is from the fears and torments of this world! Instead of allowing Satan to fill our minds with doubts and fears, let us focus on all that which is good, true, noble, right, pure, lovely and honourable. (Philippians 4:8) With this kind of mind set, God enables us to follow Him into battle against the forces of evil in the midst of our fears.

As we strap on our spiritual armour and prepare for war (Ephesians 6:10- 18), we must not pretend that fear of the enemy doesn't exist. But we must move forward with conviction and resolve in spite of the genuine threat posed by the flaming arrows of the evil one or the opposition we face from the adversaries in this world.

We must preoccupy our thoughts with the reassuring words of our Creator as He spoke to Moses, "Be strong and of good courage, do not fear, nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you" (Deuteronomy 31:6).

David's words must become the expression of our hearts when cultivating healthy fear: "When I am afraid I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?" (Psalm 56:3-4 NIV).

When we are faced with difficulty, anxiety, and sorrow, let us lay everything out before the very Son of God, and listen to Him say, "…Let not your heart be troubled..." John 14:27). For in doing so, we will allow God's soothing Spirit to keep our hearts and minds safe in union with Christ Jesus and eliminate fear as a factor in our lives.

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