In the wake of terror attacks that have come home, the West appears to be living under the menace of fear. While recent events have undoubtedly multiplied it, fear is no stranger to man. In fact, it would not be inaccurate to say that most of man’s endeavors are a consequence of fear. Fear is ubiquitous to man’s experience of life.
What is fear? Fear is uncertainty of the future in the presence of a perceived threat. This threat can be something like an attack, but also mundane things like sickness, accidents, losing your job, failure and so on. Often behavioral traits like fear of public speaking, heights, closed spaces, interacting with people etc. cause pathological fear in people, paralyzing them. Most wars are fought because of fear – some threats are real, others perceived. Insurance companies would not exist if fear was a non-entity.
Fear originates in man’s ability to think and his unique nature to plan for the future in the face of his limitations in the present. As a finite-infinite being living within time and space, he cannot control what is to come, but has been given a perception of a reality beyond his present. This trait is what enables him to have faith but also fear. An animal does not exhibit fear- at least not in the way man experiences it. Animals live by instinct and while they do exhibit ‘flight or fight’ to given circumstances based on their intrinsic and learned instincts, they do not have fear in the real sense. A wild buffalo standing up to a lion is no more bold than a doe fleeing a cheetah- both are playing out their instincts, they do not plan for or think about the future and hence are both fearless.
Fear can paralyze and so overcoming fear is a theme that the Bible repeatedly talks about. As we approach the Christmas season, it is notable that the message of the birth of the Savior was announced with the proclamation, “Do not fear!”
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:10,11)
Imagine the shepherds huddled together at night, having several things to be fearful about- predators for the sheep, their economic fragility, political instability, etc. hearing this message- one of reassurance, brought about by the incarnation of God as Jesus, the Savior. It is a message that invites man to find God by believing in Jesus and uniting with him, thereby placing a foot in the stability provided by the eternal God.
C S Lewis made an interesting comment,
Perfect love, we know, casteth out fear [1 John 4:18]. But so do several other things — ignorance, alcohol, passion, presumption, and stupidity.
It is very desirable that we should all advance to that perfection of love in which we shall fear no longer; but it is very undesirable, until we have reached that stage, that we should allow any inferior agent to cast out our fear.
In the face of various threats that we face everyday in our lives, we need to think right and act right. Those governing us need our prayers so that they take the right decisions. For man who internally wrestles with fear though, lasting relief only comes with faith in God.
As man further progresses in his walk with God, obeying Him and living for Jesus, reflecting his nature, he experiences more of the infinite certainty of God in his life- and that alone removes the uncertainty of human experience. That is when man truly marches toward being fearless.
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- NOT REALLY THANKSGIVING
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