ossibly the greatest enemy of twentieth century educated, intelligent, sophisticated, and dignified humanity is fear! Fear is as indefinable as the invisible atmosphere and as hard to contain as a cloud. When I try to analyze it, fear flees my inquiry; but when I want to escape it, I fail. Fear and frustrations force their frightful figure into our consciousness, and darkness surrounds us like a shroud.
If a man knows the future, he is not apprehensive. When a person understands the work before him, he is not at all reluctant to tackle even the most difficult task. It is what we cannot know that disturbs us. Uncertainty and anxiety plague and perplex today’s population.
This generation has seen a tremendous effort to promote and perpetuate peace: yet many have lived their entire life while there was continuous war in some part of our globe. And we fear ever-widening warfare.
An unprecedented emphasis is being made on more leisure and relaxation to counteract the tensions of this technological age. Psychiatrists and psychoanalysts work overtime in an attempt to release their disturbed patients from frustrating fears. Yet pressures persist in a society where nerves are taut and tensions torment.
Tranquilizers, barbituates, sleeping pills, and sedatives have drugged unsuspecting victims. Yet, sleepless nights and prolonged restlessness are the norm of this scientific age. Great powers fear military confrontations, and less conspicuous nations are afraid of being obliterated in a holocaust not of their own making. Assassinations and political treachery have contributed to an unrest in high places and riots have disquieted the cities of the world. Heart failure from fear is a major killer. Broken, uncontrollable nerves gnaw in the breasts of millions.
Peace conferences have not prevented war. Legislation has not lessened the intensity of demonstrations and riots. Tranquilizers and drugs have not arrested the tormenting trend of nervous disorders and disquiet. What. then, is the answer?
The sweet singer of Israel stated, “The Lord is my light and my salvation: whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27: 1). The Apostle Paul predicted today’s condition when he wrote, “For when.·they shall say. Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them . . . and they shall not escape” ( 1 Thessalonians 5:3).
Friend, you need not live in fear! Of course, if you are an unbeliever, there are some things you must first do if you would be free from fear. The only perfect release from fear is genuine faith. The Scripture that says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31), means more than salvation from eternal death and destruction. You may also be saved from many things in this life by that same faith. Among those things from which you are saved is fear. The Bible says. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).
Actually, fear is faith in reverse. Fear is believing-but it is believing the negative rather than the positive. Fear is a lower type of faith in that it is misdirected to accept. anticipate, and embrace the negative. The lies of circumstance loom large, and the promises and blessings of God seem beyond reach.
Job said, “The thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me” (Job 3:25). This does not necessarily suggest that because Job was fearful, the things which happened came into being because he believed they would. This negative faith (fear) does not produce negative situations. It simply hinders us from having positive, proper faith which would believe for the good.
If you are haunted by uncontrollable fear. there is a way out. Lift your faith heavenward and place yourself in the hands of Him who will make you strong. It may not be possible to diagnose fear. It is intangible and elusive. Because fear cannot be easily defined, it is similarly difficult to prescribe a cure. You do not treat your fears, neither do you attempt to analyze them so that you can correct the situation as soon as you attempt to understand your fears and apprehensions. you learn that there is no basis in reason or fact for fear. Nevertheless, fear persists. It is real and it is awful.
A child is fearful when he is alone in the dark. He may not know why he is fearful, or what he fears, but his fear torments him. Even though the darkness does not intensify, the longer he remains in the darkness the more his fear is magnified. When his father comes to him amid this distress. fear flees. It is still pitch dark, but the fear is dissolved.
You see, fear is really believing the thing which does not exist. And the more you accept and believe it, the more you are convinced of the actuality of the fearful thing you imagined.
Lift your soul toward God in faith and believe Him to dispel the darkness around you. Be assured He is by your side in the darkness, and then even if the darkness does not lift. it has lost its dark power.
Accept the exhortation of God’s Word, “Finally, brethren. whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue. and if there be any praise. think on these things” (Philippians 4:8).
There is your answer. Think on good things! As long as your heart is pure and your mind is clean, it is impossible for you to be held in the chains of fear. Of course, there may be brief times when even God’s children are allowed to go through shadowy valleys. but hold tightly to your faith. The light of God’s love has only been temporarily hid by a passing cloud of doubt. “Weeping may endure for a night. but joy cometh in the morning” (Psalm 30:5).
Dr. T. L. Lowery, pastor, National Church of God, Washington, D.C.
September 8, 1986