I recently listened to a presenter speak about “Mental Health First-Aid”–how to initially help someone suffering from mental illness and direct them to deeper help.
One thing the presenter mentioned was how anxiety was a major component of all mental illness.
Whatever problem they have, underneath they are afraid.
And their fears stress, distress, and oppress them–driving them to “act up” and “act out”.
It made me think about how most “normal” people also have numerous fears that reside in their hearts.
A person, group, or nation obsessed with security is a fearful person, group, or nation.
So what are we so afraid of? Why are we so afraid so often? How come we allow our fears to steal our confidence, erode our strength, and destroy our joy?
Part of the answer lies in understanding the proper function of fear.
In other words, fear is designed to protect and preserve our lives from legitimate, real dangers.
It gives us proper caution, motivates us to take wise precautions, and avoid unnecessary, avoidable dangers that we might live and go on doing good in this life.
Bravery is not fearlessness or foolhardiness, it’s doing the right but dangerous things despite our very real fears.
So we do not shame our fears or hastily accuse ourselves of cowardice.
Instead, we weigh them and do not allow fear to rule us.
But if we’re going to live brave, courageously good lives, we need something more.
Part of the answer lies in having the right kind of fear.
Holy fear is also known as the fear of the Lord.
We come before the Almighty and properly tremble from a position of abs0lute vulnerability and utter defenselessness in His presence.
We come before the Holy One and shake in our boots as an offending sinner who is liable to the full, undiluted wrath of an aroused righteous Judge.
We come before the Infinite and are undone by how small, insignificant, and lowly we are before the Most High God.
Our bloated ego is collapsed, our defenses have fallen, our secrets are exposed and we cannot escape.
So we tremble and shake and fear the worst….and are forgiven, loved, and embraced as child instead.
God’s love becomes our strength
This kind of encounter with God raises our respect for Him to the heights and our love for Him to the heavens.
It creates a kind of super-security in His all-conditions-satisfying love, in His final pronouncement of mercy over us.
And in the super-security of His redemptive, Cross-bearing, super-love for sinners, we can look anyone or anything in the eye without flinching or quailing.
The greatest, right kind of fear has driven out and displaced the lesser, ego-based, self-absorbed, wrong kind of fear.
It births in our spirit a kind of humble, holy courage that can turn the world upside down.
It sets us free.
Instead of running from God and allowing our unholy fears to drive our lives to distraction and worse, we run to God and expose our worst and tremble before Him afresh.
And are loved again.
And are freed again–a little more deeply, in a large swath of our soul, in more areas of our lives.
The process of being de-feared and re-loved is one we experience repeatedly throughout our lives under God.
He makes our fears worse so He can make them better.
He amplifies our anxieties, worsens our worries, and brings fear-roots to the surface.
So He can love us and free us and craft a pillar of iron within us.
So He can send us on increasingly dangerous and increasingly fruitful missions behind enemy lines.
Then we become c0-laborers with Him, the glove His hand fills and does wonders through.
Which is why He created us in the first place.
In part two, we’ll go even deeper and I’ll share some hard won insights into my own long battle with deepest fears.