At times irrational, at times justified, fear is a human response to circumstance.
The news reels have been buzzing since November 8th. The whole country (and possibly certain world leaders) seemed to be biting down their nails as we all waited with bated breath for the election results. Admittedly, an election is always an anxious affair. The choices of a leader—even small choices—create an indescribable ripple effect.
On the other hand, listening to the claims of “trauma” and such since November 9th has been nothing short of shocking to me. I had my suspicions that something like this would happen no matter who was chosen, but I had hoped I was wrong. You’d think Hitler had just been elected…
To put current events in perspective, I was in college when George W. Bush was elected. There was immense frustration back then because many people (Democrats in particular) felt the Supreme Court ought not to have interfered. (Even in the years following, I heard many a democrat refuse to acknowledge Bush as a legitimate president). And yet, even at that California university, I walked on to a calm campus following the Supreme Court decision. There were no protests or riots. Nobody was excused from class due to trauma or anguish. The outcome was begrudgingly accepted, and life went on much as it had before.
If you want to know what real trauma is, talk to the cops in Dallas who watched their friends mowed down by angry bullets. If you want to grasp legitimate fear, listen to accounts from soldiers who fought in war zones. If you want to understand real tyranny, read the stories of holocaust survivors.
If there is one thing age has taught me, it is this: We often fear the wrong problems while being complacent about the right ones.
I have spent a good deal of my life wrapped in fear—fear of failure, rejection, humiliation, and loss. The anxiety consumed me to the point of extreme depression. Once in a great while, the thing I feared would come to pass, but all too often my anxious energies were wasted.
How often have you feared something only to be blindsided by something altogether different?
Fear is a feinting tactic used by Satan. A feint is defined as “a movement made in order to deceive an adversary; an attack aimed at one place or point merely as a distraction from the real place or point of attack.” Satan loves to capitalize on our immediate fears in order to distract us from what we really ought to fear.
Some may say that death is a rational fear. I suppose it is, although for the Christian, we ought to have confidence that death is simply release from the pain of life.
Others fear the death of a loved one. I have similar fears, mostly of the pain due to loss.
Fear of suffering is also common, and understandable, for who knows how much we can bear?
And yet, these fears often distract us from the two things we ought to fear above all else.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
But fools despise wisdom and instruction.
~ Proverbs 1:7, NKJV
Now, I know some of you may blanch at the idea that we “fear” the Lord, because perfect love is supposed to cast out fear, right? Consider, briefly, a relationship between parent and child. There is love coupled with some degree of fear. Children raised in a balanced home love their parents and know they are loved by them. However, those children also possess a healthy fear of being punished when they do wrong by those same parents. It is a respectful fear. In the same way, we have a reverent fear of God. We know we are loved by God and we also love Him. We are also acutely aware of His power—power to give life and power to utterly destroy. (“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”)
The fear of the Lord ought to eclipse our circumstantial fears.
There is one other fear that exists on a near-equal plane for me: Destructive complacency.
The scriptures are rife with kings and leaders who serve God wholeheartedly only to catastrophically stumble over their own pride. David, the man after God’s own heart, grew complacent. The disastrous outcome was adultery, deceit and murder. Thanks to God’s grace after his repentance, he re-entered a right relationship with God. The consequences in his life were severe, but he still regained his righteousness before God. Then there’s Saul, Josiah, and others—kings and people who did not recover. I do not want to be a Saul or a Josiah. I don’t even want to fall into the same trap as David.
I greatly fear my own complacency. I fear growing proud of my own efforts to walk with God and falling prey to temptation.
The fear of the Lord and the fear of being separated from Him should take precedent over all fears.
Do not allow Satan to distract you with petty anxieties. Fear Him who is able to destroy both body and soul.
Fear God and fear your own pride.