Summary: We all struggle with fear. This post brings out the danger of fear, the types of fear we face, and finally gives us three practical and proven ways to overcoming fear.
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Fear Definition: Fear is an anxious feeling, caused by our anticipation of some imagined event or experience.
President Roosevelt said, “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.”
In every circumstance of our life, we either operate in faith or in fear. Everyone has their own fears. Maybe you’re afraid of losing your job, or your health, or your finances. The list could go on and on, for all of us have things that cause us “fear.”
Fear and worry statistics from U.S. National Institute of Mental Health, Sep. 4, 2016:
Percentage of things feared that will never take place: 60%
Percentage of things feared that are considered to be insignificant for you: 90%
Percentage of things feared in relation to health that will never happen: 88%. So why fear?
Joke: 5-year old Johnny was in the kitchen as his mother made supper. She asked him to go into the pantry and get her a can of tomato soup, but he didn’t want to go in alone. “It’s dark in there and I’m scared.” She asked again, and he persisted. Finally, she said, “It’s OK, go; Jesus will be in there with you.” Johnny walked hesitantly to the door and slowly opened it. He peeked inside, saw it was dark, and started to leave when all at once an idea came, and he said: Jesus, if you’re in there, would you hand me that can of tomato soup?”
Three types of Fear.
1. Protective Fear.
Fear that helps us respond to a dangerous situation is protective fear.
Illustration: When I was a child I loved going to my grandparents’ home in Kerala. I used to enjoy the days but dread the nights. It was in the early 80’s and there were absolutely no streetlights. They had meetings almost every night and coming back from the meetings were so fearful. I was afraid if I would stamp a snake, scorpion, or a leech would come on me.
All fear is not bad. Protective fear is good for us, it can help us respond to a dangerous situation. We tell our children look both sides before you cross the road, because it is dangerous. We say “don’t keep your hand on the stove or you will burn your hands.” All these are protective fear.
2. Godly fear.
As believers, we are to fear sin and its consequences. We fear God. When the Bible says fear the Lord that means to acknowledge him, revere him for who he is. To fear God does not mean to be terrified of God, but to respect God. It is a good fear.
Psalm 76:7 It is you alone who are to be feared.
Proverbs 19:23 Fear of the Lord leads to life, bringing security and protection from harm.
Proverbs 22:4 True humility and fear of the Lord lead to riches, honour, and long life.
3. Chronic Fear.
Chronic fear is unhealthy fear. This is a type of fear that either starts as sin or some circumstances that you have been in, heard, or assumed. When it persists it turns into anxiety and stress. This fear keeps us from doing things we should do. It is a fear based on one’s presumptions and assumptions and can even lead into depression.
The Danger of fear.
1. Fear torments you. Torment means physical or mental suffering.
Someone said that that fear has two meanings: Forget everything and run or face everything and rise.
1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: Because fear has torment.
Joke: A man has been visiting a therapist because he has had a fear of monsters living under his bed. The man has been seeing this doctor for months. Every time he would come in the doctor would ask “have you made any progress?”. Every time the man would say “no”. The man decided to go and see another doctor. When he went back to his other doctor and he asked “have you made any progress?” he said “yes, I am feeling all better now” The doctor asked “what happened”. The man said “I went to another doctor and he cured me in one session”. The doctor asked “What did he tell you?” The man said “he just told me to cut the legs off of my bed”.
2. Fear restraints you.
Fear will restraint you from doing God’s will. Fear will prevent you from using your talents, getting your work done, and relationships. Fear will make you useless or nonproductive. God told Gideon: Judges 7:3 Now announce to the army, “Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Gilead.”
Illustration: Janez Rus lived in Germany during the days of the Nazi ruler Adolf Hitler. During that time he was a young shoemaker, looking to make his name prominent. Because of the power of the German government, he participated in public supports of the Nazi regime in hopes of gaining recognition. But after the regime fell, he realized the error of his ways, and out of fear, fled to his sister’s farm in Slovenia to hide. It was in her barn that he hid for thirty-two years, without so much as a visit to town or interaction with guests. After he was discovered, reporters interviewed him, wondering how someone stayed hidden for so many years. He told of how he allowed his fear to keep him at home, away from anyone outside his family.