Have you heard or said things like…”I am afraid that I will get the coronavirus”, I am afraid that my job will not be there”, I am afraid I will not be able to pay my electric bill” “I am afraid my loved one in a nursing home is not safe”, and the all too common “I an afraid I will run out of toilet paper”?
Can you tell me what these words have in common? Geniophobia Consecotaleophobia, Microphobia, Megalophobia, Peladophobia, Pogonophobia, Chaetophobia, Panophobia?
They are all phobias…FEARS! They are the fear of chins, chopsticks, small things, large things, bald people, beards, hair, everything. (with barbers closed, we may all have the one about a fear of hair!)
Now, maybe we laugh at these funny names, but there are 15 pages of phobias….things we FEAR…About 750 named phobias from A to Z.
The most common ones:
- Fear of spiders – (50% of all women fall into this category)
- Fear of flying
- Fear of confined spaces
- Fear of death
- Fear of heights
I have a fear of heights! Funny story, many years ago Sue and I got free tickets to go to a Sandi Patty concert. Sue was pregnant and the seats were in the very top row. The show was over and I told her to let me go first to help her down the steps….I stood up, looked down, and fear overcame me…my pregnant wife had to lead this scared guy down the steps!!!!
The fear of heights can protect me from walking too close to a dangerous cliff…but it can also prevent me from a beautiful view of God’s creation below.
Now, I want you to take a minute and think of 2 fears you have. One that you have had for a long time…and one that is new, this pandemic has you now fearing.
FEAR is defined as… an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.
So…about now, you are thinking what all of this have to do with being a Christian!!!
Well here are 2 verses to get us thinking:
- Deut. 10:20… Fear the Lord your God and serve him.
- Joshua 1:9 – “Remember that I have commanded you to be determined and confident! Do not be afraid or discouraged, for I, the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
One verse says to fear but the other says do not fear? The first verse says FEAR THE LORD…. That’s what it says!….and yet the fear of God sounds strange doesn’t it?
So in one passage speaking of the things of this earth it means to fear or to not fear earthly things based on what they are ….. but in another passage as it refers to God, fear here means to hold in awe. Same word two meanings depending on who the object of the fear is.
Martin Luther says “we should fear and love God” so that we… Don’t curse, swear, lie deceive or don’t kill or don’t commit adultery. Well, that “fear and love God” isn’t about being afraid of some meanie, it’s about a total awe of God’s power and a fear of disappointing God. When I was young my parents never hit me to punish me…but my dad had “the look” of disappointment. I would almost wish he would have given me a good spanking, because I did not want to disappoint or let this loving man down. Likewise, we should be in awe and never want to disappoint our God who Loves us unconditionally…and verses like Joshua 1:9 remind us that He is with you wherever you go.
But what about our earthly fears? I put those fears in 3 categories:
- Things we need to fear. Healthy fear!
- Irrational Fears
- What I call “mis-directed fear”
First, from an earthly bodily point of view, there are things to fear. They will hurt you…..they are healthy fears:
Like mom said – “Don’t run with scissors in your hand or a Lolli pop in your mouth or putting your hand on the stove. We need to fear things like taking drugs, playing with guns, driving drunk, not wearing safety equipment when skate boarding or handling chemicals. The intruder at night …or the gang of thugs in the unlit parking lot. The coronavirus… Those are known dangers that are a real possibility to harm you….and God wired us with a sense of fear….to warn us …to alter our actions. For instance because of the fear of coronavirus we wear a mask, wash our hands, and keep a social distance.
But, then there are the irrational fears like the fear of walking under a ladder, or monsters under your bed, or the number 13….or in my case the fear of roller coasters….which even though they are 300 feet up in the air….they are on a track that holds them in place hundreds of times a day. I read that 95% of things that we fear NEVER happen!! A German Proverb addresses this kind of fear. ”Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is”
But, let’s get to the heart of the issue of fear. What I call mis-directed fear. We do something wrong, but we fear the wrong consequence while doing it.
So you’re speeding and you see a police car – you hit the brakes afraid of getting a ticket…fear of the consequences of getting caught… but don’t even think about God’s disappointment with you for breaking the law. You hide that dirty magazine or video from your mom so you won’t get in trouble… but you don‘t feel the guilt of disappointing God with your sinful lusts.
You are afraid your income tax return will get audited and they will find those false tax credits you claimed but don’t think about God’s disappointment about our view of stealing.
Well, in each of these situations, you should be afraid of the consequences. A $120 speeding ticket; grounded for a week; must pay taxes due with a penalty added.
But, I have to tell you those consequences are nothing compared to God’s disappointment when we don’t own up, confess, and repent. When don’t think of God in awe….when we do not fear disappointing God enough to change our behavior.
Now….as saved Christians….one thing we don’t have to fear is the death of our bodies….That’s because we’re saved, we have eternal life. Knowing that God loves you that much…should cause you to be in awe of God…and to want to change your behavior to glorify Him.
Coincidentally (or God-cidentally), as I was writing this devotion my wife called out to me “listen to this post by Carol Martin…” —- “Fear does not stop death, it stops life…and worrying does not take away tomorrow’s troubles!”
Where do the 2 fears you wrote down at the beginning of this devotion fit into the 3 categories of fear?
So…Be in awe of God…fear disappointing Him with your behavior…Trust God’s Word to guide your life, have a healthy fear for things that can harm you…trust God in other situations …change the things God wants you to change…and trust God when He says… Isaiah 41:10… So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Lord, there are a lot of uncertainties in our lives right now. Those uncertainties can lead to fear. Help us to cast those fears and anxieties to you because you care for us. Remind is of the certainty of your Love and the fact that you are still Lord. Draw us close to you through Bible study, prayer, devotionals, and quiet time with you. If there are things we need to do or attitudes to change then nudge us. Let us to truly be in awe of you and your Love for us. Watch over and protect those serving in dangerous positions such as, medical personnel, fire, police, postal, store clerks, delivery and truck drivers, restaurant workers. Give wisdom to the leaders as they map out next steps. May these strange times bring about permanent changes in attitudes of love, compassion, kindness, and community. Amen.