Love, Faith Cast out Fear

by James R. Gray

Love, Faith Cast out Fear

Fear is the response emotion: fight or flight. It is an anticipation of some type of pain and can become one of the most chronic neurotic emotions we have. Fear often controls more of a person's life than any other single factor. Basil King wrote, "Fear causes more misery than all the sin and sickness of our lives combined." Charles Allen noted, "You never develop fear until you have lost your confidence. Your confidence is no stronger than your faith."

Most of our fears are learned. Cecil Osborne believes that nearly all phobias and abnormal fears have their roots in childhood. Two of the most common fears people have are the fear of rejection and the fear of failure. In fact, perfectionism is often a manifestation of anxiety stemming from the fear of failure.

A phobia (the Greek word for fear) is, psychologically speaking,, an irrational fear. More than 700 different phobias have been classified. Perhaps the most common phobia we hear about is claustrophobia (the fear of closed or tight places).

If fear is such a common experience in the human race, what can be done about it? Psalm 27:1 can inspire us: "The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?" Hebrews 13:6 can encourage us: "The Lord is my Helper, I will not be afraid. What shall man do to me?" But, what is a person to do when they are afraid?

Our responses when we feel fear must be anchored in God and His Word. He is the true and faithful witness. As Psalm 56:3 says, "What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee."

When Dick and Margaret Hillis were missionaries in Central China, Dick had to be taken to a hospital 115 miles away. Margaret was left at the mission compound with their two children, aged one year and two months. The Japanese army was approaching. This verse brought her great peace amid the fears she felt. Mysteriously, the army turned back and she was spared.

Fear can be dealt with effectively by using what can be referred to as the "Timothy formula." Second Timothy 1:7 says: "God has not given us a spirit of timidity (KJV: fear), but of power and love and discipline." We can practice this truth by trusting God when we fear. By exercising this kind of thinking and faith, we can neutralize and control the feelings of fear.

First John 4:18 says, "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear" We will at various times be afraid, but when we feel fear, we can do something constructive with it. We do not have to live in a state of chronic fear. Applying understanding of God's love, through faith, will overcome the fear we feel.

Many of the things in life we are afraid of are only perceived threats. We can overcome those fears by doing again and again what we irrationally fear. Having the courage and determination to face our fears and do the thing we are fearing will challenge our irrational beliefs and, though painful, allow us to build confidence.

There are many different kinds of fears. Some are actually healthy and godly. For those that are unhealthy and paralyzing, we can trust the God of truth to enable us to deal with those fears and overcome them.