Fear is rampant in the world today, at every level of man’s living. Fear of the future, fear of the present, fear of war, fear of being found out, fear of being attacked, fear of non- acceptance or rejection, fear of death, fear of persecution fear of failure without or within have gripped many lives. Fear is the greatest single emotion influencing us. The common symptom in 90 % of the chronic patients is fear. Their trouble did not start with cough or chest pain but with fear.
George Bernard Shaw, speculated that fear was one universal passion of human kind. In one form or another, we all struggle at times with powerful fears that paralyzed us that throw us into a mental tension or depression or prompt us to hastily act in panic. Shri. Vivekananda said, “In love of wealth is the fear of poverty; of body, the fear of death; of beauty, the fear of old age; of success, the fear of jealousy; of fame, the fear of backbiters. He alone is fearless who has given up everything.”
I. What Is Fear? Webster’s dictionary describes fear as, “An unpleasant emotion caused by the anticipation or awareness of danger.” Fear does not exist in isolation. It is a response to danger. If we are scared of something it cannot be in the abstract even if we cannot say precisely what that something is. “Fear is a God – given potential designed for our protection,” says, John Haggai. We must be thankful to God for this gift of fear in this uncertain world. It is an asset in itself. It cautions our physical and mental state and makes us capable of tackling whatever is ahead of us.
II. The Nature And Effects Of Fear In the history of mankind the very first man and woman, experienced fear. “Then the Lord God called to the man and said to him, where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of thee in the garden, and I was afraid…” (Gen. 3:9,10). Adam and Eve had never before known what it was to be afraid, until they sinned. Before they sinned, they lived in harmony with God and with the rest of the created order. In their pre-fallen state, the only fear they ever knew was the mild and useful fear out of love and reverence for God. Before the fall they knew God mainly as a benefactor and in their innocent fear for him enjoyed limitless freedom. But after the fall they understood God as a righteous judge. The fear of punishment entered into their system.
1. Fear Serves A Useful Purpose
Fear serves a useful purpose, except when it assumes alarming proportion. It is very useful to us when a man is behind us with a gun. After all, it is fear that is largely responsible for all the pre-cautionary measures and the defense arrangements we undertake. Fear releases more adrenaline from the glands, which enables the individual either to run away fast or to fight the enemy. It prepares you for action.
2. Fear Incapacitates We become captives of our fear. “For many, fear has grown like a tree until it over shadows them from morning till night,” says, John Haggai. It can prevent us from doing what we are capable of. It can strifle the capacity of a talented artist, a gifted musician or a singer, an athlete or a dancer or any one who comes under its grip. This fear phobia is America’s number two-health problem. It makes us tense and can cause depression. Many diseases have their roots in fear and depression. According to medical experts, stress, induce by fear, can easily lead to peptic ulcers, kidney disorders, high blood pressure, indigestion, liver disorders, etc. Fear is the most destructive force in the world today. Fear, worry and depression have killed more people than all the wars combined; have brought about more health problems than all the germs put together and have been responsible for more failures than those caused by economic imbalances.
3. Fear Is The Opposite Of Faith In one sense, fear is nothing more than faith in Devil. “Fear is of the flesh and panic is of the Devil,” said, A.W. Tozer. The Bible says, that Satan is like a roaring lion. He roars that he might make us afraid. The roar of a lion can actually paralyze its prey causing it to be its easy target. If Satan can create fear in us, we become an easier prey for him to destroy. “Satan is an enemy to be understood for his God – created and granted position and power, but we must not fear him,” said, M.I.Bubeck. Fear is the opposite of faith. If we do not trust the Lord for every thought and action of our lives, fear becomes a natural phenomenon “God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Tim. 1:6,7).
4. Fear – Objects and fear – Scenarios Whenever we are afraid we are relating our fear to some tangible object, event or circumstance. When we do this we are actually referring to either the fear – object or the fear – scenario. These two are so closely connected that we easily confuse them. If you say you are afraid of flying in an airplane, I ask you whether the fact of being carried several thousand feet above the ground is causing you that fear or the fact that the plane may any time crash, burn or blast and kill you has brought that fear? If the answer is crashing then fear is not flying, but death through crashing. Hence, crashing is the real fear – object. Flying is frightening to you not for itself, but for what it might lead to. Hence flying becomes your fear – scenario. Crash becomes the fear – object because it is an event in which those particular certainly be realised. Hence in this case we cannot call flying a fear – object it is only a situation in which crashing is a logical. So in the case of rational fear, fear – scenarios may occur in any situation where there is a clear risk.
5. Fear Of The Unknown What we cannot perceive, predict, understand or explain, creates in us an unknown fear. That is why children are afraid of the dark and cautious of strangers over which they have no control. Diseases, like AIDS bring about an unknown fear, since there is no cure for them. Hence, AIDS becomes the object of fear. Sometimes when we go through fearful experiences, we fail to analyze it. Understanding what was previously unknown can go a long way to dispelling fear. Understanding a problem is 90% of the solution.
6. Legitimate And Rational Fear According to psychologists, fear is a faculty we are born with. Some fears like being alone, noise, falling away etc. can be seen in babies from birth. But most fears are learned or acquired. The God – given potential for entirely rational fear is corrupted to a greater or lesser degree in all of us. The process begins from our childhood and Continues throughout life. Parents should take care that they do not scare the children with tactics like; “If you don’t eat your food, a big bear will come and eat you” children literally believe what you tell them. If you use terror to get your way with children you are actually, depriving them of the ability to look at danger rationally. You are in fact loading them up with pessimistic expectations and making them targets for fear in later life. Children learn fear by imitation. If they see their parents exhibiting fear, they will exhibit fear. Children of fearful parents are doubly exposed, for they lack the protection of the parent’s confidence, and suffer from the poor example of the parent’s fear. In this way, it is passed down from one generation to the next. Even the aggressive and violent behaviour shown in the TV media produces fear and anxiety in the viewer. If you want your God-given capacity for fear to function effectively, it is necessary that the level of fear you experience should proportion to the level of danger you confront. This is legitimate and rational fear. Rational fear prevents you from walking carelessly along the narrow pathway of the mountain cliffs. It urges you to take out a life insurance policy. It makes you look both sides before you cross a highway, get the right preventive vaccinations and make prude plan for your fear is not wrong in itself. It is part of your survival mechanism, provided it is a legitimate rational fear.
III. Practical Steps To Overcome Fear
We can strive to repress our fear, but we cannot liquidate them. The way to overcome fear is not to eliminate fear, but to replace it with something better. If we try to run away from our fear – scenarios that will only further stimulate our fear. Hence, we must learn to replace the fear – scenario into a faith – scenario. There are different ways of over coming fear. Let us consider some practical steps using some Biblical experiences.
1. Counter Fear Through The Love Of Christ
Fear is an emotion and can be best countered only by another emotion. That emotion is love. “Perfect love drives out fear.” (1 Jn. 4:18). Out of this perfect love Jesus Christ laid down his life for us and consequently we can get out of our fears and set our hearts at rest in his presence. The Bible gives us the admonition to, “Fear not” a full 365 times in various forms. The psalmist says, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.” (Heb. 13:6). We must have the absolute confidence that God loves and cares for our well being, longs to be gracious and waits to have compassion on us (Is. 30: 18). He is always ready to rescue his children in times of fear and trouble even at the sound of their cry (Is. 30:19; Ps. 145:18,19, 1 Jn. 5:14,15). Hence we must fear God rather then any thing else. “He who does not fear God has need to fear everything else.” – Anon. “The fear of the Lord is that affectionate reverence, by which the child of God bends himself humbly and carefully to his father’s law. ” – Charles Bridges.
2. Analyze Your Fear Take a good look at it. Take a notebook and record every facet of your fear or the reasons for it. Divide the fear – objects from the fear scenarios, clearly pinpointing as accurately as you can what persons or events you fear. Become thoroughly acquainted with your fear, just as a skilled hunter becomes thoroughly acquainted with the habits of his prey. Now, try to analyse the danger on which this fear is based. Is there any difference or a rationality gap between the danger as it really is, and the danger as you perceive it? Try to find out everything you can about the actual realities of this danger and the possible consequences. Is that event you fear, going to leave you physically or mentally incapacitated, financially ruined, socially divested?
Sometimes if we really analyze our fear, practically it amounts to nothing or even looks silly. Probably it will be advisable to obtain a perspective on your own fear by discussing and comparing it with your trusted or matured friends who would have gone through similar kinds of fear. This analysis of your fears and possible dangers may lead you to the following conclusions: First, you may feel your fear reaction is justified. For example, if you are about to undergo major surgery, you may have fear in anticipation of pain or severe after – effects or even possible death. Second, you might realise you have been suffering from exaggerated fear or in other words the danger before you has been making you more afraid than it should. Third, you may realise that your fear is due to lack of information or due to your inability to distinguish the real danger from the perceived danger. In such a case, take efforts to obtain information from reliable authorities and then proceed with things. Otherwise you will be like a blind folded man trying to cross a busy highway, sometimes you may not really understand the situation, but you can still cross the highway with some one who can see the traffic by trusting him. Here only faith comes as a replacement for fear. You have to trust the Lord where you cannot trace him. Any faulty perception may immobilize you as it immobilized the Israelites. When the twelve spies to the land of Cannon returned back and reported (Num. 13:27,28,31), ten of them over estimated the danger, which resulted in exaggerated fears. Only Joshua and Caleb saw the danger in the true context of God’s call to occupy the Promised Land.
3. Conquer Fear Progressively
“Fear is overcome a piece at a time” – John Haggai – There is an element of struggle involved in the fight against fear. But the man who tackles his fear of accidents on the road by driving a little farther each day is already achieving his aim. He is conquering fear as the Israelites did in occupying Cannon. It is the attitude that matters. They crossed the Jordan in the assurance that victory was already theirs. Paul and Silas were confronted with potential fear at Philippi. They had just started their ministry, when they were beaten up and thrown into the prison on false charges (Acts 16:23,24). Did they surrender to fear? No, they did just the opposite. Even in the stocks of a maximum-security prison, Paul and Silas knew they were, “more than conquerors.” That is why even at mid night they prayed and sang praises unto God and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened (Acts 16:25,26). Victory was theirs not next month, not even next morning, but right during the very night they were in the stocks. Try to lift yourself up into a new mound. Ask yourself, “How would I think, speak, and act if I had never suffered from this fear?” Visualize or imagine the picture of your victory and start giving thanks to God in faith for your victory over that fear. In this way you can turn your fear – scenarios into success – scenarios. Transform your fear – affirmations into faith – affirmations. Choose scripture verses that you can legitimately apply to your special situations. For example, claim (Phil. 4:13) and say, “I can do all things through Christ which strenghteneth me,” or John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you my peace I give unto you… Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” Read Psalms 91, and other such assuring Bible verses loudly when you are tempted to feel afraid. Read and memorize them and repeatedly recite them until they have become a part of you and you can be more than conquerors.
4. Confront The Danger, Cast The Devil Out
Never let fear fool you into thinking there is nothing you could do about it. Sometimes by the grace of God, with a little effort you can put an end to that danger. You must have an active engagement with the problem, or in other words take precautionary measure. If you fear that your children may catch polio, then take the precaution of having them inoculated. It is the fear of injury that stops you from driving a car without brakes. Hence, active engagement means taking the bull by the horn. Joshua did not send a telex or fax, calling all the Cananite kings to join him in the coalition of the desert storm. He invaded the land of strong giants and walled cities one at a time. Start with what you can do, and go on to conquer your fear stage by stage. In order to overcome fear brought about by Satan you must have a bold confrontation with him. Jesus confronted wicked spirits, and he was asking him, “What is your name?” And he said to him, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” You must realise the fact that Satan is real, but a defeated foe (Col. 2:15) and greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world (1 Jn. 4:4). You must read and know what the Bible teaches about Satan and his evil devices and also about the authority of the believer over Satan. Believers, united with the Lord Jesus Christ in all of his person and work, have the same authority to claim and use that which our Lord used against wicked spirits. If you do not use it, Satan will paw you like a cat paws a mouse.
So often when the battle goes on you are afraid. Do not be afraid. Spiritual power is greater than natural power and God fights for you. “You need not fight in this battle, station yourself,” stand and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf…” (2 Chron. 20:17). Do not fear, stand by and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will accomplish for you today… The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent. (Ex 14:13,14). “Do not fear Abram, I am a shield to you.” (Gen 15:1). Through his death and resurrection Christ destroyed the Devil that had the power of death, and delivered them who through fear of death were all of their lifetime subject to bondage (Heb. 2:14). If you are still under this bondage of sin and death ask Jesus to cleanse you by his blood and invite him to come and live with you through his spirit. Only then you can use the authority of his name to overcome fear and Satan. The Bible says, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower. The righteous runs into it and is safe.”(Prov. 18:10). To pray in the name of the Lord is to claim the things, which the blood of Christ has secured. Satan cannot stand against the name and blood of Jesus Christ you must rebuke fear and resist the Devil directly and vocally. We can probably say something like this, “Satan I belong to Jesus, I am not afraid of any danger or failure. You have no right to touch or torment me (or him), I command you in the name of Jesus and through his shed blood, get out of my life and my family and this situation.” The Bible says, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (Jos. 4:7). You must claim the covering of the whole armor of God over us (Eph 6:11) since the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds (2 Cor. 10:4). Dr. Homer Duncan says, that a strong offense is the best defense. Hence, instead of just defending yourself against the gates of hell you should storm the same.
This book is copyright by Dr Chandrakumar Manickam. It is reproduced here by permission.
Visit Dr Chandrakumar’s website for more information on his books, videos, CDs and ministry training programmes, as well as information on how to contact him for speaking engagements.
If you wish to buy the book as an e-book it will available for download in the near future. Contact us for details.