Yesterday my 5 year-old son Wetzel confronted an ancient enemy at the dentist. The enemy that he faced was fear.
It all started last month after his first teeth cleaning, when the dentist gave him the diagnosis — 4 new cavities would need to be filled soon. When the appointment arrived, so did Wetzel’s fear of the unknown.
Fear has been around since the first sin in the garden of Eden. After eating the forbidden fruit, Adam hid from God in guilt, shame and fear and when God inquired where Adam was, he responded
“I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.”
Fear can be caused by different factors, but in this case, the catalyst for Adam’s fear was sin. Before sin there was no fear, but after Adam's fall, fear arrived in full force and stayed with mankind.
Yesterday as Wetzel was expressing his anxiety about his first cavity experience, I was reminded that it is natural for us to fear future unknowns. Before a new experience, imagination easily rushes in to fill this void in our mind. In Luke 12:22-32 Jesus addresses fear of the future with His disciples, clearly correlating fear and thoughts in the mind. Some of Jesus’ words in this passage are
“I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest? Do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you. Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
Here Jesus speaks practical truth about trusting God instead of cultivating anxious, imaginative thoughts.
In addition to imagined future troubles, unpleasant past experiences can also cause fear. Of course it’s Summer and pool season here in Ohio and so the horror stories of those who fear water are especially regular now. Almost all these stories go something like this: “When I was [insert age] I [insert negative personal experience around or in water] and now I’m afraid to swim or get in the pool.” Based upon past experience, the natural mind thinks “Because something that I consider bad already happened to me before, it’s likely to happen again. Avoid! Avoid!”
It is evident that fear is thoroughly prevalent in our society today. Fear of finances may sound like “How will I pay for next months bills?” or “What was that noise in my vehicle? That sounded expensive!” Fear of food says “I wonder if pesticides were sprayed on or near this delicious looking fruit?” or “I better not eat this piece of cheese — it may raise my cholesterol count!” Fear of people or relationships thinks “If I open myself up through deep communication, there is the potential for me to have emotional pain.” or “If I say what I’m thinking or feeling my words could be used against me.” Fear of crime imagines “Was the noise that I just heard someone trying to get into my home?” or “My wife has been gone longer than anticipated — is she safe?” I could go on and on, but you get the point and my guess is that it is likely something I’ve said here sounds similar to a thought you’ve had before.
Fear torments us. It wants to paralyze, fill and then consume it’s victims.
Truth solves fear. Love, hope and peace flow out of God’s truth and these 3 virtues combat and defeat fear.
The reality is that God loves you. He proved His love 2,000 years ago by sending His Only Begotten Son to earth to suffer and die so that you can have real, lasting life. The truth is that God is benevolent, all powerful and He desires good for you and me! If we receive this truth we can be perfected in His love and if we are perfected in God’s love then fear is conquered. 1 John 4:18 succinctly says
“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.”
Fully receive God’s love today. Be perfected in His unearned favor and watch your fear disappear.
Faith and hope are closely related to one another. As I mentioned before, fear can take the form of a dread of the future while faith is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (see Hebrews 11:1). Fear and faith are mutually exclusive, we either have one or the other. Let’s choose to believe that God has eternal goodness in store for those who overcome fear.
Philippians 4:5-9 reminds us that The Lord is always near (in Sunday School you may have learned that He is omnipresent, or present everywhere) and then commands us to supplicate Him for our needs and requests. This passage also commands believers to think, or meditate, upon good thoughts and promises to those who obey that “the God of peace will be with you.” So instead of fulfilling the void in our hearts and minds with fear, peace will flood in and fill our thinking. Doesn’t that sound wonderful and amazing?!
Today I encourage you to receive and meditate upon specific truth from God instead of allowing fear to fill you.
Let Wetzel be your inspiration because yesterday he did great at the dentist. As we were waiting he expressed his many fears to me but I simply responded “You have a choice to make. You can chose fear or you can trust God.” It is clear to me what he chose. As Wetzel sat in the dentist’s chair I offered him words of encouragement and I could see that he was listening to my words because his eyes were fixed upon me. After his cavities were filled, the Dentist and his assistant complimented Wetzel on how well he listened and sat while they worked on his teeth. Let’s all be like Wetzel today — focused upon The Father’s True Words and choosing to believe instead of allowing fear to reign.
What fear do you have today and what specific truth will you receive and think to overcome it?
Additional verses: Deuteronomy 31:6, Joshua 1:6-9, Isaiah 51:12-13, Matthew 8:23-27, Matthew 10:28, Luke 5:10 and Revelation 21:8