What Is Fear?

Two explorers were on a jungle safari when suddenly a ferocious lion jumped in front of them. “Keep calm” the first explorer whispered. “Remember what we read in that book on wild animals? If you stand perfectly still and look the lion in the eye, he will turn and run.” “Sure,” replied his companion. “You’ve read the book, and I’ve read the book. But has the lion read the book?” (Source unknown)

Although we chuckle at the above scenario, the fear that these two guys experienced is real! Fear can be defined as the paralyzing emotion that inhibits or restricts normal feelings of love, confidence and well-being. It triggers negative thought patterns and can cause other emotional responses such as anxiety, worry, indecision, superstition, withdrawal, loneliness, doubts, inferiority, suspicion, depression, hesitancy, pride and shyness. Fear can also save our lives if we are in a life-threatening situation as these explorers found themselves when they came across the ferocious lion. It can cause us to have the fight or flight reaction.

Fear can be caused by certain negative childhood experiences. When I was little I accidently got locked in a closet at the church which really produced strong  fear and panic. I felt like I couldn't get out of the locked closet and I had lost control of the situation. (Don't worry - someone found me and let me out!)

Sometimes fear is caused by taumatic experiences. Think of our soldiers serving overseas and all that they encounter on a daily basis. Fear and worry can occur because of negative thinking patterns. Other causes might be anger, sin, lack of faith and trust in God, habits we have formulated or even selfishness. Whatever the cause, fear can really immobilize us and keep us from walking forward and being productive in our relationships with God and others.

Next time we will explore the results of fear and how to overcome fear from a biblical perspective. Until then, remember that we can work through our fears with God's help as we rest in Him for His strength and encouragement.