Summary: What are the effects of fear, and what is the solution to fear?
Let me give you a test. In your Sunrise Update this morning you’ll find some notes you can use to follow along with the message. And at the beginning of those notes you’ll find a list of 20 fears/phobias. Some, you’re probably familiar with. Others, you’ve probably never heard of. Take a look at them and se if you can figure out what they are. And then we’ll go through them one at a time to see how you did.
Botanophobia - Fear of plants
Ailurophobia - Fear of Cats
Apiphobia - Fear of bees
Geraunophobia - Fear of thunder
Claustrophobia - Fear of enclosed places
Neophobia - Fear of anything new
Clinophobia - Fear of going to bed
Pyrophobia - Fear of fire
Batophobia - Fear of being close to high buildings
Pupaphobia - Fear of Puppets
Triskaidekaphobia - Fear of the number 13
Xenophobia - Fear of strangers
Didaskaleinophobia - Fear of school
Bibliophobia - Fear of books
Chionophobia - Fear of snow
Blennophobia - Fear of slim
Pallophobia - Fear of balloons
Chronophobia - Fear of time
Chronomentrophobia - Fear of clocks
Arachibutyrophobia - Fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth
How’d you do? Were you able to get two or three? Anyone get five of them? Anyone get more than that?
Most of these fears or phobias are pretty obscure. But the truth is, we all face a variety of fears every day. Some big, some small, but all very real. According to the Book of Lists, the top ten fears that we have are…
5. Deep water
4. Financial problems
3. Insects and bugs
1. Speaking before a group
Of course, over the past year and a half we’ve come to know a fairly new fear in North America: terrorism. Terrorism is the fear of fear being used as a weapon.
Think back to the days just after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. I believe the amount of fear even here in Atlantic Canada during those days was higher than at any other time in my lifetime, and perhaps in our history. I can’t think of any other time when so many people shared the same fear to the same degree. Even though the attacks were south of the border, we never felt as vulnerable as we did then. Even the Confederation Bridge was named as a possible target and was shut down for a period of time.
Thankfully as time has passed the level of fear has subsided somewhat, but I think it’s still in the back of our minds. We now know that terrorists can attack anyplace and anytime, and perhaps that’s the message they wanted to deliver in the first place.
We’re not going to spend the whole morning talking about terrorism. I’m not going to tell you that you need to go out and buy duct tape and sheets of plastic in order to protect yourself. And I’m not going to talk about the pros and cons of racial profiling. We’ve heard about those things for months, and I don’t have anything to add.
But what I do want to do is talk about some of the dangers involved in living in fear, and take a look at what advice the Bible gives for dealing with these fears.
The Dangers of Fear
A. Fear Paralyzes You
I read a story this week about when Nikita Khrushchev was premier of the Soviet Union. Obviously it’s a story that took place a number of years ago. When Khrushchev was premier, he would go around denouncing many of the policies and atrocities of Joseph Stalin. One time when he was doing this in a public meeting, he was interrupted by a heckler in the audience. The heckler shouted out, “You were one of Stalin’s colleagues! Why didn’t you stop him?” Khrushchev stopped what he was doing and roared at the audience, “Who said that?” Nobody answered. After a long, agonizing silence, during which no one dared move a muscle, Khrushchev quietly said, “Now you know why.”
Fear has a way of paralyzing you. Even when you know you should do something, fear can stop you dead in your tracks.
B. Fear Consumes You
Fear doesn’t just paralyze you and prevent you from acting in response to what’s causing the fear; it also won’t let you think about or deal with anything else. All that matters is the fear. You can try to suppress it, but like a beach ball pushed under water it’ll always spring to the surface again. It will end up consuming all of your time, your thoughts, your energies, and it’ll eat you up inside.
C. Fear Can Cause Death
We have a phrase we sometimes use: “You scared me to death.” But did you know that it is literally possible to be scared to death? You may remember the earthquake which shook Los Angeles back in January of 1994. According to cardiologist Robert Kloner, over 100 people literally died of fright during that event. His research has shown that excessive fear can cause the brain to release such a potent mix of chemicals that the heart contracts and never relaxes again, causing death.