The Power of Fear


December 5, 2014

Is it possible to live consistently without fear? Most of us have experienced the power of debilitating fear. Sometimes it puts us on our knees. Actually, that is a good place to be when you are afraid.

I have a history of heart arrhythmias. I have been told by physicians that they are not life-threatening. Still, when your heart goes off on its own course, beating erratically, it causes a response of fear. When you feel light-headedness, uneasiness, and errant rhythms that seem to be settling in for permanency, adrenaline activates, and fear follows.

Panic attacks are like this. They come from nowhere and bring a great sense of dread. The heart races, and it feels like doom is just ahead . When I was having my initial episodes of arrhythmias, I believe some of them morphed into panic attacks. I did not know or consider that at the time. I just knew my heart was misbehaving.

On a broader scale, there are people who essentially order their lives by fear. In some cases it is all-encompassing. They can barely function. Life is ruled by “what if?” Sometimes corporate, group, or government actions are fear-based rather than based on reason, common sense, and truth.


A vivid example of this is the controversy about guns in our nation. Because of an emotional fear response, guns are forbidden on school campuses. If there were a thinking response rather than a fear-based response, such signs would never be put on schools. The reason? Those signs are an open invitation to anyone with a criminal or deranged mind.

You may as well post: “Human Hunting Preserve” on the door. Think of the difference it would make if the following sign were posted instead: “People in this building carry weapons, and are thoroughly trained to use them”. This is only one example. I could multiply them.


Many products are sold by stirring up fear. The next time you watch television programs, take note of how many commercials use some element of fear to convince you to take action.

Increasingly centralized, power-coalescing, oppressive government thrives in an atmosphere of fear. (Maybe we should coin a new term: politicians are skilled at creating: “atmosfears”). If persons with influence can craft messages that effectively divide people into antagonistic classes, and if they project apocalyptic scenarios, such as grandmothers being pushed off cliffs, they can then present themselves as our saviors.

Do you see what I mean? It comes down to trust. It comes down to this: Who is God? Who is sovereign? Who is in control? This really is the root of every prolonged fear situation.

Fear is at its base a lack of trust. In fact, God defines fear as sinful. He does not reference the automatic initial human response, which He created. He is addressing setting our lives by fear, and living in that posture. Misplaced trust is a genuine reason to fear the future. Choosing the wrong god will result in disastrous consequences. Recently I read in Psalm 27 that God is my light and my salvation, and that He is my stronghold. The question is then raised: “Whom should I fear?”

Admittedly, it is hard to fully rest in that. There are all kinds of reasons to be afraid, if I chose to be afraid. The question is: do I trust and believe that God is sovereign, and that he overrules, and is in control?


The fear response is built into us by our Creator. It can be life-saving. It can spur us to instant action, when we see danger or threat. That is actually a gift. Fear only becomes debilitating when it takes charge long-term.

Whole populations can live in fear and make decisions based on fear. Is that ever a wise course of action? Politicians make promises and institute policies based on fear, and that fear is often something they have insinuated into the mind of the people, in order to get their way. Often the policies and laws they produce are greater reasons for fear than the problems they supposedly “solved”.

Do you cling to your fear, or do you bring it to God? Do you nurse your fears, or do you surrender them to the one who rules over all? Do you worry over multiple things in your life? Who then is in control? Who then are you trusting?

To close, let me tell you of one kind of fear that is healthy, good, and life-giving. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” That kind of fear is a reverential awe, a holy submission, and reduces the effects of other kinds of fear.


Photos: Wikipedia,Pixabay, Stuart Anthony on Flickr, Prawner on MorgueFile

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