Navigation #6

Outside In: Fear

We are taught to fear so much in today’s world.

There is the presence of terrorists, whose sole goal is to strike fear into the hearts of people and spread hate through violent act after violent act. As parents, we are taught that we have to be cautious whenever we venture into public with our children for fear of their possible abduction.

There are studies, research, and judgmental eyes from others as we try to parent our children, work on a project or help someone in need. They tell us what we are doing is wrong; we made the wrong project, used the wrong product, or said the wrong thing.

It seems that whatever we do, no matter what we are working on, it’s never enough. And so we second-guess some choices and decisions we make, and think back to other times where we made mistakes. From there, we begin to have a little seed of fear planted within us that begins to grow. Eventually, it affects how we handle different situations or what we think about when we go out. Perhaps, too, it creates a sort of anxiety for us, which is a deeper level of fear.

It’s important to understand the difference between fear and anxiety. Fear can be healthy, and healthy fear can be good because it motivates you to take action to protect yourself or someone else from a threat. Healthy fear is specific and constructive.

In contrast, anxiety is not specific. It’s general, amorphous and undefined. You don’t know what’s causing it. With fear, you know. With anxiety, you don’t. Fear galvanizes you for action. Anxiety debilitates and paralyzes you, making you unable to act or make a decision. Anxiety is not healthy. We could even say anxiety is unhealthy fear.

What are some tools we can use to conquer fear or maybe even anxieties?

First, I should say that deep anxieties will likely require help in the form of a licensed healthcare professional. But there are three strong tools we can use to overcome fear and mild anxiety:

  • Knowledge
  • Courage
  • Faith

We tend to fear that which we do not know. The tool of knowledge, in regards to fear, helps us understand others and see the world better. Yes, we should have a natural sense of trepidation and skepticism. But we cannot live in a constant state of fear, or worry about every little thing, act of violence, article, research conducted or opinion that comes our way.

The second tool of courage is one that can be quite hard to develop. Sometimes it may take practice, other times it might take prayer, and more often than not it will require both. More often than not, courage needs encouragement and support from others and confidence in ourselves to be attained; and that courage also goes hand-in-hand with faith, which is the third tool.

Think of the disciples on this boat during the middle of the storm. Typically, most sermons take the arc of using this as a metaphor for saying “Oh, God calms the storms in our life, whether they are internal or external.”

I am not so sure that is the best route to take for this passage. I would much rather see it that through our faith we should have courage: Courage to know that in the end it all will be okay, no matter what challenges we may currently be facing, or have faced in the past. Yes, the boat may be rocky and we might not be able to see the sunlight, but we are still in God’s hands and ultimately loved dearly by God.

One reason that I do not really experience fear or anxiety all that much anymore is that I know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that in life and death I belong to God.

We all should be willing to put our faith, courage, hope and knowledge in God. In doing so, our faith will grow strong and our fears will weaken.

Then, one day, maybe we can ask what Christ asked the disciples that day: “Why are you afraid?”


Part 1 of a 5-Part Series

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