“A man who fears suffering is already suffering from what he fears,” once observed the 16th century French statesman and author Michel de Montaigne.
Actually this would apply, not just to suffering but anything we fear.
I once read that Louis Pasteur had such an irrational fear of dirt and infection he refused to shake hands.
When electricity was installed in the White House during the Presidency of Benjamin Harrison, he and Mrs. Harrison were so intimidated by the newfangled invention they didn’t dare touch the switches. If there were no servants around to turn off the lights when the Harrisons went to bed, they slept with them on.
It’s said that the Soviet dictator, Joseph Stalin, so feared for his safety that his residence in Moscow contained eight bedrooms. Each night Stalin chose a bedroom at random to ensure that no one knew exactly where he was sleeping.
Fear has been a universal, age old nemesis upsetting people’s emotions, impacting their behavior, and limiting their potential.
In his classic 1937 book, Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill identified six fears that hindered people from being successful
3. Ill Health
4. Loss of Love
5. Old Age
In January 2020, Amy Morin wrote in Psychology Magazine, that fear which keeps you “inside your comfort zone will ensure you live a small life.” Fear, she observed leads to anxiety and depression. It also results in a boring life.
In her work as a therapist, Morin identified 10 fears that hold people back.
6. Something bad happening
7. Getting hurt
8. Being judged
10. Loss of freedom.
Today, it seems that our greatest fear relates to COVID-19. Even with the vaccines, that are touted to have almost a 100% efficacy, some folks are still afraid. Afraid to eat out. Afraid to attend church. Afraid of people. Afraid to do anything. Or go anywhere.
I personally know quite a few people who’ve contracted the virus. Obviously, many have died either directly or indirectly from COVID-19. So, I’m not suggesting we act foolhardy and throw common-sense and caution to the wind.
However, we need to face our fears. Admit our fears. And then control our fears. Furthermore, it’s important to remember some things are more to be feared than sickness, or even death. Jesus offered this sobering reality.
“Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matt 10:28)
Some folks fear COVID-19 more than they fear God. Or fear the judgment. Or fear Satan’s subtle, insidious schemes. Or fear losing their soul.
Repeatedly, the Bible advises us to “fear not.”
The Psalmist boldly affirmed, “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Ps. 118:6).
God’s promise through the prophet Isaiah offers great encouragement during fearful situations: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isa. 41:10).
The wise man observed, “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe” (Prov. 29:25).
King David’s admonition to his son Solomon is still relevant today: “Be strong and courageous and do it. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the Lord God, even my God, is with you. He will not leave you or forsake you..” (1 Chron. 28:20).
The apostle Paul’s reminder is both encouraging and empowering: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (1 Tim. 1:7).
Think about the debilitating and destructive effect of fear.
- Fear paralyzes us from acting.
- Fear arouses suspicion.
- Fear breeds distrust.
- Fear limits our potential.
- Fear saps our power.
- Fear undermines our resolve.
- Fear weakens our immune system.
- Fear produces fatigue.
- Fear clouds our judgment.
- Fear short-circuits mental acuity.
- Fear drains us emotionally.
- Fear erodes our joy and happiness.
- Fear cripples good decision making.
- Fear damages relationships.
- Fear subverts God’s mission for the church.
- Fear suppresses God’s ministry by the church.
- Fear sabotages God’s message through the church.
Listen to the Lord: “Fear not.”
Make your word of the week and personal motto: “Unafraid.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman