Summary: God has made us with the ability to experience fear as a part of His loving provision for us. When properly embraced and employed, fear can protect us from harm, motivate us to action, and cause us to reach out to God for the help we need.
A. Years ago, fear began to take hold of the people of Moline (Mo-lean), Illinois.
1. First came the stories of a wild cougar on the loose.
a. The news sent women and children into hiding, and even made brave men tremble.
2. Next came a similar story about a huge beaver, estimated to be 80 pounds and 5 feet tall.
a. The monster beaver had been spotted tearing up trees on the city’s parkway.
b. “It’s as big as a Volkswagen!” one man said.
3. Then finally the “giant” beaver was caught.
a. When the trap was pulled from the drainage ditch on the parkway, there was a very unhappy beaver in it.
b. The beaver that had created such fear was just 40 pounds and not even 3 feet tall.
4. It’s so easy for fearful people to see giants where they don’t exist – that’s what fear does.
B. For many years I have been impacted by the story about a man named Shoikoi Yokoi who spent twenty-eight years in a prison.
1. But it wasn’t a prison of walls, rather it was a prison of fear.
2. As World War II was nearing the end, Shoikoi was a Japanese soldier on the island of Guam.
3. Fearing capture by American forces, he ran into the jungle and hid in a cave.
4. He later learned the war was over by reading one of the thousands of leaflets that were dropped into the jungle by American planes.
5. Nevertheless, he still was afraid of being taken as prisoner, so he remained in his cave.
6. For over a quarter of a century he came out only at night.
7. It was only when some hunters discovered him 28 years later that he was convinced that it was safe to leave the jungle.
C. We could all say, “How could a man be so blind?” “What a waste of a life.” “What a pity that a human would be so imprisoned by fear that he would cease to live!”
1. And yet fears of all kinds have filled a thousand prisons.
2. You can’t see the walls. You can’t see the warden. You can’t see the locks or the bars, but you can see the prisoners.
3. You can see them as they sit on their bunks and bemoan their fate - they want to live, but they can’t because they are too afraid.
4. And, oh how restrictive is the ball and chain of fear.
a. You try to run away from it - but you can't.
b. You try to run with it - but it is too heavy.
c. You try to ignore it, and it yanks you into reality.
D. With today’s sermon, we return to our new sermon series called “Embracing and Employing Our Emotions.”
1. In our series, we have been learning that emotions are a gift from God.
a. God wants us to understand that He has given us the capacity to feel in order that our lives might be enriched.
b. But if we are not careful, our emotions can control us and our emotions can be used by the enemy to destroy us.
c. We have been learning that God’s primary means of bringing about our emotional health and wellbeing is through our relationship with God.
2. In our most recent sermon from this series we talked about the feelings of guilt and shame.
a. We learned that God has created us with the ability to learn about right and wrong so that we can feel guilt and shame when we have done what is wrong.
b. We learned that when godly grief encourages us to turn away from our sin and causes us to run to Jesus – who is the only one who can forgive us and remove our guilt and shame – then the emotions of guilt and shame have served us well.
c. And for all who have given their lives to Jesus already, guilt and shame need never to have power over us ever again – Because Jesus is our defender and Savior and has already paid our debt in full.
E. Today, we want to talk about the emotion of fear.
1. What is fear? Wikipedia says: Fear is an emotion induced by perceived danger or threat, which causes physiological changes and ultimately behavioral changes.
2. Fear in human beings may occur in response to a certain stimulus occurring in the present, or in anticipation or expectation of a future threat perceived as a risk to oneself.
3. The fear response arises from the perception of danger and leads either to confrontation with or escape from the threat (also known as the fight-or-flight response), which in extreme cases of fear can be a freeze response or paralysis.