This is an important article because the topic of fear is so prevalent in our society today. We fear the possibility of nuclear war, cancer and diseases for which there are no cures, financial ruin or insufficient funds to retire. With the recent murder of 18 students and teachers in Brouward County Florida, we even fear sending our children to school.
Elsie and I see and hear fear in our clients every day. It is one of the hidden issues underlying personal and relationship problems. What can we do about it? In some cases, fear is normal and to be expected. When your child runs into the street to chase a ball and a speeding car is heading toward him, you should feel afraid. He could be hit and hurt. As Dr. Neil Anderson says, fear objects which have both power and proximity to us should strike fear into our hearts. The Bible says, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31). The living God has both power and proximity to cast sinners into hell for eternity. That should cause us to fear Him. However, most of our fears are situational even if there is no rational justification for them. How are we to handle this type of anxiety?
Here are some thoughts. An important step in managing fear within us involves facing feared situations, places or objects. It is normal to want to avoid the things you fear. However, avoidance prevents you from learning that the things you fear are not as dangerous as you think. Psychologists call this “awfulizing,” thinking the worst will happen or envisioning the situation as being more awful than it really is.
The process of facing fears is called EXPOSURE. Exposure involves gradually and repeatedly facing feared situations until you feel less anxious. It involves calling on God in prayer to strengthen us each time we face a fearful situation.
Starting with situations that are less scary, God gives you confidence to work your way up to facing things that cause you a great deal of anxiety. Over time, you build up confidence in those situations and may even come to enjoy them. For example, a person who is afraid of the water takes swimming lessons every week and practices putting their feet and legs in the water, then the whole body and, finally, diving underwater. People with a fear of water can learn to love swimming. The same process occurs when people learn to ride a bike, skate or drive a car. God can use exposure to overcome the fears we face.
God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, love, and a sound mind (KJV),