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Summary: The writer of the twenty-seventh Psalm faced and conquered real fear. At some point in the midst of his trouble, the psalmist felt the pressing need to get back to God.

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Marjorie Goff was thirty-one when she stepped inside and closed the door of her small apartment in 1949.

She did not leave her home again until she was sixty-one.

She did go out one time in 1960 to visit her family.

Two years later, she left again to have an operation.

And in 1976, when the friend who shared her apartment was dying of cancer and wanted ice cream, Marjorie went out to get her some.

She might still be there in her lonely apartment if not for a social worker who found her and helped her back out into the world.

"Extreme case," you say?

Perhaps.

But agoraphobia does afflict one in twenty Americans.

It is literally fear of fear.

An agoraphobiac is terrified of the possibility of a panic attack in an open place away from home.

One woman suffered so acutely from agoraphobia that she literally could not be out of sight of her home.

She walked backward out of her front door to pick up her morning newspaper in order to never lose sight of her house.

It might not always be this severe.

But one in nine adults harbors some kind of phobia, making fear the number-one mental health problem for women, and the number-two problem for men, behind drug and alcohol abuse.

It may well be that such abuse simply masks fear.

There are phobias of shopping malls, freeways, and suspension bridges.

In fact, one young truck driver was so afraid of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge that he could cross it only in the trunk of his car while his wife drove.

A Los Angeles insurance executive is so fearful of driving on freeways that he hold tightly onto the roof of his car with one hand while he steers with the other.

A San Francisco man who loved airplanes had logged 150,000 miles in the air when he encountered some turbulence in a 747.

In a cold-sweat panic he quit flying .... a problem for this thirty-seven-year-old man whose job depended on travel.

At least seventy-five phobias have been given technical names.

Ailurophobia is the fear of cats.

Astrophobia is the fear of lightning.

Trichophobia is the fear of hair.

One of the most unusual phobias is "triskaidekaphobia," fear of the number thirteen; it costs American business a billion dollars a year in absenteeism, cancellations, and reduced business on the thirteenth of the month.

So deep is the fear of the number thirteen that in Paris a professional fourteenth guest can be hired to round out an otherwise ill-fated

thirteen-person dinner.

You may say, "None of that is my problem."

But remember that phobias are very personalized.

While your friend's fear of spiders sends you into fits of laughter, your own fear of water seems perfectly sane, totally rational and completely sensible.

The fact of the matter is your fear is real to you, whatever it may be.

The writer of the twenty-seventh Psalm faced and conquered real fear.

At some point in the midst of his trouble, the psalmist felt the pressing need to get back to God.

"One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life" (Ps. 27:4).

This psalm is the testimony that a courageous king gave before the assembly of God's people.


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