Fear is the constitutional part of the nature of man. It, like most emotions, can work for good or evil. Natural fear is no accident. It is both needed and useful and without it, many would fill an untimely grave.
Fire warms us but it can also burn us. If we had no fear of failing, bodies would be laying in the streets. If there were no fear of bodily harm, who would turn off the main switch before you replace the wiring? “Be careful”, we say as loved ones depart on a journey. “Look both ways as you cross the street,” are familiar words spoken when our children leave for school. Natural fears regulate our lives in many ways. They are both consciously and unconsciously passed on to those we love. When one has fallen or been burned or suffered some trauma or accident, it increases our sense of awareness and doubles the compassion we feel toward others who may have suffered like experiences. Normal fear means ‘self-survival’ and does not over rule reason, it assists it. What is courage, but fear that has said its prayers’.
Being afraid is one thing but being possessed by fear and driven by dread is quite another. Fear creates itself. Everything that exists (and much that doesn’t) can become an object of our obsessions. The unknown, disaster, floods, gremlins, storms, cancer, devils, famine, animals, old age, airplanes, loneliness, lightning, disease, darkness; you name it and someone’s afraid of it. For every anxiety we conquer, a new one appears on the scene. Each new fear seems to hold a greater sway in our thinking that the one before. We poke fun at our ancesters, but at least they were not feverishly digging holes in the earth trying to hide from their own inventions. We have produced destructive weapons that reserve 40,000 tons of T.N.T. for every man, woman and child on the face of the earth. Job said, “For the thing which I did fear is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of has overtaken me” (Job 3:25). Why continue to be tormented by doubts and irrational fears?
Fear spreads. It moves quickly. It grows in a moment and makes it’s presence felt in every portion of the body. It will invade your loved ones and they too will suffer from diffidence and hesitation. It is highly contagious. The fruit of fear is more fear multiplied. It feeds on itself. It can fill an individual, engulf a family, invade a neighborhood and eventually divide and destroy a country. Fear is the only thing we have learned how to create something out of nothing!
Fear paralyzes. It creates panic and jams the switch board of the heart. It tears out the inward communication system. New York (AP) – “Thirty-eight respectable citizens, according to a police court, looked on and did nothing as a killer stalked and stabed a woman in three separate attacks spread over more than half an hour in the Kew Gardens section of Queens. . . Two weeks after the crime, witnesses in the neighborhood found it difficult to explain why they didn’t call the police. Police said, “most told them that they were just afraid to call”.
In Jalapa, Mexico (AP) – “An argument over the name of a first-born son led to a baptism-day brawl fatal to five persons. Seven others were injured. . . disagreement during the ceremony turned into an open fight.” The real culprit is fear – blind fear – fear that rules, then overrules, and finally destroys.
Paul writes, “For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love, and of a sound mind” (II Timothy 1:7). John continues to elaborate on this positive power by saying, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear” (I John 4:18) The divine remedy is to cast out fear by a love made perfect. A fear faced is a fear erased.
It is said of T.B. Larimore, a few hours before his death that he uttered these words. “My faith has never been stronger; my hope has never been brighter; my heart has never been calmer; my life has never been purer. I love all. I hate none. My love for some lifts my soul into the sublime. I am willing to die today. . . I sleep soundly, dream fondly and rejoice evermore”. It reminds you of what Paul wrote to Timothy, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race and I have kept the faith. Finally there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that day, and not to me only but to all who have loved his appearance” (II Tim. 4:7-8).
An unknown author left these words in print. They sum up the power of courage over fear, trust over anxiety. Read them slowly and be wiser for it.
“Behind our life the Weaver stands, and works his wonderful will.
We leave it in His all-wise hands and trust His perfect skill.”
“Should mystery enshroud His plan, and our short sight be dim;
we’ll not try the whole to scan, but leave each thread to Him.”
“The threads His hands in blindness spin, no self determined plan weaves in,
The shuttle of the unseen power, works out a pattern that’s not ours.”
“Not till the looms are silent, and the shuttles cease to fly;
Shall God unfold the pattern or explain the reason why?
The dark threads were as useful, in the Weaver’s skilful hands;
As the threads of gold and silver, in the pattern which he planned.”