The Paralyzing Effect of Fear To Publications / Articles
I have a confession: I have struggled with hypochondria much of my life. This is a limp that accompanies my walk. I get bombarded with thoughts that I have something physically wrong with me, and sometimes these thoughts feel paralyzing. It is hard to admit our fears to others, because we often feel shame to say that we are afraid - especially as men. However, I know I am not alone. Just this week I had honest conversations with a couple of brothers in my foxhole who, at times, also feel paralyzed by different fears. One brother is afraid that he will not have enough work, will lose his house, and will not be able to provide for his family. Another brother is struggling with severe anxiety and depression and fears that he will never again find enjoyment in life. What do you fear?
Fear is not from God ... but we all face it
Scripture teaches us that fear does not come from God, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline." Yet fear alone is not all bad, because without fear, no courage would be needed. Facing fear is a part of the script of the heroic battle stories that are being written for each of us by our Creator; accordingly, our Lord exhorts us to "be strong and courageous." Yet fear becomes sin when we are disobedient to God's call because we are too afraid to engage. Even Jesus experienced great anxiety at Gethsemane, but he fought through it and submitted to the Father's will by saying, "Thy will be done." So there should be no shame when we experience fear, for it is part of the human condition. Yet at times fear can be paralyzing, causing us to miss out on the glorious purposes for which God created us. So where is the hope to be overcomers of paralyzing fear?
Do not face fear alone ...
All the great heroes of the faith experienced fear, but they did not face it alone and were able to become overcomers. David had Jonathan, Moses had Aaron, and Paul never traveled without a companion. Whenever I start to feel paralyzed by fear, I confess my struggle to a close brother - even if my fears seem shameful, redundant, or ridiculous. Satan is "the great liar - the accuser." He constantly bombards us with fearful lies that he has uniquely designed to take each of us out. A brother who knows my story and my struggles can more easily identify the evil nature of lies that were designed for me, and he can counter them by speaking truth into my life. A brother can arm me with the belt of truth, the first piece of God's armor described in Ephesians 6, and it is truth that "sets us free." I also can fight for my brothers and help them remove the arrows of lies they are facing - if they are willing to take off the mask and be honest and real with me. None of us should try to confront the fears and lies alone. Sharing my fears with my brothers - even the shameful fears - has been an incredibly powerful weapon in my quest to be one of the overcomers. We all need to allow another brother to speak truth into our lives so that we also can respond to our Father by saying, "Thy will be done! - No matter the cost!" Our Father is worthy of our unconditional trust in Him, for He "will never fail nor abandon us." But when the battles get intense and the fog thickens, it sometimes takes our brothers to remind us of this truth.
If you don't have a brother in your foxhole with whom to share your fears, consider finding one in our community foxhole at www.NoMatterTheCost.org.
Vance F. Brown