Wednesday, April 17, 2024

The Impact of Fear

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.  2 Timothy 1:7

Fear has been with us from the beginning, not as an infrequent visitor, but as a constant companion. Fear may be the oldest and strongest emotion of mankind.  It is the first human emotion referred to after Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden in Genesis chapter 3.  After they disobeyed God by eating the forbidden fruit, God came looking for the first couple to take their customary evening walk together.  Adam’s response to God’s inquiry about their whereabouts was: “I heard You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid” (v.10).  For the first time in their lives, fear gripped the hearts of Adam and Eve because of what they had lost and the One they had to face. 

The source of their fear arose from disobedience that brought about danger, disconnection, and desperation.  

Danger:  Safety was lost outside of Eden. Once evicted from the friendly confines of paradise, the man and woman were forced to face a world fraught with danger and increasing hostility (Genesis 3:14-19; 9:2-6).  The apostle Paul described an internal struggle with fear that was provoked by external dangers threatening him: “We were harassed at every turn—conflicts on the outside, fears within” (2 Corinthians 7:5).  Fear was born when man was no longer under the full protection of God.

Disconnection:  Also, Adam felt vulnerable because he became separated from his Provider God. The death that he experienced immediately after he sinned was the loss of his vital connection with God.  He knew he was at risk.  He was naked, but it was much deeper than that.  He was emotionally, relationally, and spiritually cut off from his life-giving God.  Whenever our sense of well-being is threatened, we experience the same shudder of fear that Adam felt.  We feel alone and vulnerable.  Our disconnection from God fuels our fearful struggle with insecurity, inadequacy, and self-doubt.

Desperation:  Adam lost control of his world.  He was banished from the Garden, estranged from his wife, alienated from his God, and desperate to figure out how to survive in a hostile environment.  We all hate to feel out of control. Dan Allender wrote, “Different people fear different things with different levels of intensity, but all of us fear what we cannot control.  Fear is provoked when the threat of danger exposes our inability to preserve what we most deeply cherish.”  Fear invades our most cherished relationships because we have no real control over another person.  People are free to make their own choices.  And where there is freedom, there is fear.  Some spouses fear betrayal; others fear being ignored or unloved.  Parents fear that their children won’t turn out okay.  Employees fear that the company will downsize.  A sense of desperation comes when we lose control.

The truth about life is that all of the above are the experience we live in every day.  Therefore, fear can become the natural state in which we live.  The damage of such a state is profound as many physical issues, emotional issues and spiritual issues emanate from a spirit of fear.  But this is not God’s desire. He offers us courage, wisdom and guidance to offset our fear.  All of these are found in a vital relationship with Him through prayer, Bible study and worship. When we lean into him to overcome our unhealthy fear we find freedom. If we don't break free from our fear, it can cause us to stumble, pause, or stop altogether, keeping us from living The Jesus Way. 

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