Fear

This month’s topic is on a very serious issue, that of FEAR. Especially given the month we have just come out of, this is something that has gripped many, not only in this nation but all across the globe. This is the reason why I felt compelled to write on the topic. Now in no way am I making light of this issue, as I know that there are people who have varying degrees of issues with this subject. The following are the teaching/ empowerment points I want to get across in this blog:

1. The Reality
2. Purpose and Application
3. Our ability to overcome

The Reality: There are a great number of fears that people have to face or otherwise learn how to cope with. It has been identified that one of the most common mental illnesses in the United States is that of phobias (Cherry, 2019). According to the National Institute of Mental Health, it is suggested that eight percent of U.S. adults have some type of phobia and that women are more often plagued by phobias than men (Cherry, 2019). Some of the more common phobic symptoms include being preoccupied with the object or perceived source of fear, increased heart rate, trembling, and nausea (Cherry, 2019).

Here is a short list of 10 of the more common ones of the 107 fears Cherry (2019) identified. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) (2013) has the full and extensive list.

• Acrophobia – Fear of heightsAnthropophobia – Fear of people or society
• Atychiphobia – Fear of failure
• Claustrophobia – Fear of confined spaces
• Cynophobia – Fear of dogs
• Entomophobia – Fear of insects
• Glossophobia – Fear of speaking in public
• Mysophobia – Fear of dirt and germs (seems quite applicable now)
• Ophidiophobia – Fear of snakes
• Xenophobia – Fear of strangers or foreigners  

Undoubtedly we have heard of a few of these and we may even know of someone, including ourselves, who has had to deal with one or possibly more of them. So I’m in no way denying the reality that people deal with this and it is a real matter. But I will tell you that neither you nor they have to accept this as common or in fact normal. There is good news!

Purpose and Application:

Innately, God created us with a sense for safety. Psychologist refer to this as our “Fight or Flight” mechanism. Walter Bradford Cannon (1915), a physiologist who was also a professor and chairman of the Department of Physiology at Harvard Medical School, was the one who originally coined the term fight or flight.  This term describes an animal’s response to threats in Bodily Changes in Pain, Hunger, Fear and Rage. It was an expansion on an earlier theory or concept of homeostasis (a state of balance or stable equilibrium) as postulated by the 19th century French physiologist, Claude Bernard.  

The following, as identified in an article on stress from Harvard’s Medical School (2018), identifies the “fight-or-flight” response as a combination of reactions to stress. It evolved as a survival mechanism, enabling people and other mammals to react quickly to life-threatening situations. There is a carefully orchestrated, many of which are considered near-instantaneous sequences of hormonal changes and physiological responses that helps someone to either fight the threat off or flee to safety (Harvard Health Publishing). So again, I’m in no way denying the reality of this matter as there is physiological evidence as we can see and feel our natural response, which aligns with those previously mentioned (e.g., nausea, increased heart rate, etc.).  

Our ability to overcome:  

So, with this being a very real matter, which was given by The Creator, do you think that knowing that He gave you this defense mechanism, He wouldn’t also give us as part of His creation the ability to calm itself, and thereby overcome it? Well, for those who only see things from the world’s position, they would unanimously say no. Yet if you ask the true believer, the ones that adhere to the unfailing truth of God and His word, their answer would be an emphatic and resounding yes. But don’t simply take my work for this. No, infact I encourage you as an individual to look for yourself beyond what the world in its finite, limited ability, has to offer.    

Here’s a link to a video that can help you understand about fear’s purpose and how anyone can overcome it. https://youtu.be/sQTnREEtuNk

Additionally, here’s what God’s word as identified in 1 John 4:18, says about the power of fear.

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.

So through both of the items presented, hopefully you’ve started to peel back the skin of this onion to reveal the truth of what fear is, and what it’s true intent is. Hopefully, you can see that is a tool of manipulation that is be used daily by the one who is a fallen angel. The one formerly identified as Lucifer, but is now know by various other names such as Satan, the one who is the father of lies, and is the great deceiver. The very word wicker, which relates to the twisting of matter, correlates to that of being wicked. Think about this, a lie is the twisting of truth or the blatant omission of it, with the primary intent being to deceive so as to manipulate and gain a dishonest advantage.

There is an acronym that relates to the matter of fear that I learned a few decades back and I found it to be quite true. FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real. A few months back (February 2020) I addressed the matter of perception and perspective. If we take and use this acronym in analyzing a matter that has us in fear or otherwise stressed out, and we compare it to the truth and promises of God’s word, we will identify what our enemy (adversary) is trying to do. Satan is not a creator; there is but only One who creates. The most Satan can do is manipulate; people and situations. But God counters everything that the enemy tries.

Let me show you how, by using the temptation of Jesus during His 40 days in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13). The very first temptation or challenge Satan, identified as the tempter, presents in an effort to get Jesus to operate in fear and doubt is to challenge who exactly He is, was to say, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” These were temptations one and two.  How did Jesus respond?  By using the scriptures saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” this comes from Deuteronomy 8:3.  Satan’s next temptation was not only the same one to instill fear and doubt, but also one to get Jesus to test or actually challenge God’s word (Matthew 4:6). These were temptations three and four. Jesus’ response was yet again, the written word of God, stating that, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt (or test) the Lord your God.” This is directly from the book of Deuteronomy (6:16). The fifth and final temptation was that of greed and power (Matthew 4:8). How did the Lord respond? Again, with the written word of God. Interestingly though, this time He adds a directive for His/ our enemy, in saying, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’” Again, taking the direct written word of God from Deuteronomy (6:13).

Think about this… If I had a piece of cardice (aka “Dry Ice”) and I told you could handle it without gloves and not get hurt, if you know that the temperature value of Dry Ice is approximately -109.3°F you’d know straight off that I was lying. Now, even though most people may not know that temperature value, they do know that it is far colder than regular ice.  But let’s say for demonstration purposes that you had no clue as to how really cold it might be. Though you might question why I was either holding it with gloves or a pair of tongs and you saw the vapers coming off of it. What then, if I told you that if you are willing to take it in your bare hand and hold it for 2 minutes, I’d give you $100?  So now you’re left to make a choice. You think $100 is not an unrealistic amount of money, so you think it might be tough, but it can be done. But actually, if you were to hold on to a piece of Dry Ice for more than a couple of seconds it would begin to bond to your skin and you would suffer permanent skin damage equal to a third degree burn (Brain, 2008).  This would not only be a painful but costly lesson. This is often the same with the challenges we get in life, which are orchestrated by our adversary, Satan.

As believers, followers, or in other words disciples of Jesus Christ, Jesus has shown us that we not only don’t have to succumb to and be a prisoner of fear, but that we can actually take authority over it and the source. I just caution that you truly know who you are in Christ before you do this. For if you don’t, you will left to a huge embarrassment as were the seven sons of Sceva (Read Acts 19:11-20).

As I’ve pointed out in previous blogs, to be stable is to be grounded.  If you’re familiar with NHR, you know this is a foundational element of this organization. For those who are new here and have not heard of this, here’s the recap of what the acronym GROUNDED (Kidd, 2017) stands for.

First, we must recognize God, and that He IS. He is what? He is the One who not only created you but did so with a very specific purpose in mind. He’s also the One who provided His Son, Jesus as not only our gift of salvation, but as a human example of Him; for us to see and understand that we as His creation is only limited to and by what we choose to believe.

Next is the matter of Respect. First, and foremost respect for Him as The Creator, for He gave us life. Next, respect for His one and ONLY Son, Jesus, for it is by Him that God gave us life and that more abundantly. For ourselves, for we are the greatest of all of the Creator’s creations. Why? Because we were created in His image, with a purpose and that purpose is to be a blessing to others who don’t know Him; to walk out His peace and love.

Next is Observant – be cognizant (aware) of your surroundings for your safety as well as that of others. Be alert to the things that are going on around you in the physical, which in reality is much more than many often give thought to. This is a point that can’t be emphasized enough given the day and age in which we live.

Next is Understanding. Understand that your life and the choices we make not only effect and or affect us, but others; both close to us and those we’ve possibly haven’t and may never meet.

Next is New Experiences. If you don’t like where you’re at in your life – then YOU MUST CHANGE IT. No one else can implement a permanent change for anyone other than themselves. Don’t lower your standards to live down to someone else’s expectations, but rather use that as motivation to propel you to a new destiny. Don’t practice insanity, which is doing the same thing over and over again, and yet expect a different result.

Next is Diligence, which is giving strict attention to and pursuing after that which is important. Look at what will make a radically positive change in your life, not just for today or tomorrow, but one that is long lasting rather than short-term.

Next is Education. Education is all around you and it is continually making itself available to us. Especially in the information age in which we live. Just be smart enough to apply the previously mentioned elements of O, U, and N, so that you’re not taken advantage of.

And finally, we have Daily Effort. Though very similar to diligence it is different. Diligence is more precise and focused. Whereas, daily effort is more general and all encompassing.    

This blog has been on the matter of fear and what the true source of it is. I’ve also identified how we can be victorious over not only the things we fear, but even more so over the one trying to bring it. Remember as I have said before, the difference between knowledge and wisdom is in the application. In previous blogs I’ve talked about the matter of empowerment and we must understand that empowerment comes through the full understanding of how things interact with each other. If we only operate by what the world tells us, we will never be fully empowered. Full empowerment is based on the understanding that God, The Creator (Elohim) has provided mankind. God has called His people to not walk in the ways of this world (I John 2:15-17) which is full of lies, deceit, and treachery. There is TRUTH that is far more important than any other thing that we could ever desire or seek. But not just any perceived version that the world would offer, but rather the real truth that is only found in Christ Jesus; The One who loved you before you were ever born, to the point that He gave His life for you.

References and Resources:

Brain, M (2008).  “What if I touched dry ice?” Article. HowStuffWorks.com, 24 March 2008. Retrieved from https://science.howstuffworks.com/touched-dry-ice.htm. Retrieved on 24 April 2020.

Cherry, K. (2019). A to Z: Strange and Common List of Phobias. Web article. www.verywellmind.com. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/list-of-phobias-2795453. Retrieved on 22 April 2020.

Claude Bernard. Britannica Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved from https://www. britannica.com/biography/Claude-Bernard. Retrieved on 24 April 2020.

Fight or Flight (2018). Understanding the stress response: Chronic activation of this survival mechanism impairs health. Article. Harvard Health Publishing. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/understanding-the-stress-response. Retrieved on 24 April 2020.

Kidd, R. (2017). The Young Person’s Survival Manual: How to Survive in Today’s Ever-Changing World. ISBN: 9781629528953. Xulon Press. Maitland, FL.

The Holy Bible, New King James Version (1985). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc.