Fear is a natural emotion. We all experience fear at one time or another in our lives. Fear can be a good thing at times because it stops us from taking unnecessary risks, from being reckless and thoughtless in what you do.
But there are times when fear itself breeds more fear and grips us to the extent of ruling our lives; Few of us are really immune to it.
The fear of losing our job and not being able to provide for our families. The fear of missing payments on our mortgage and losing our house. The fear of failure and being unable to work again. The fear of our very lives crumbling in front of our eyes.
The fear of a marriage breakdown. infidelity, divorce and its many heartaches, the tearing apart of a family and how it affects one's children, separation, costs, access to children and being no longer a part of their lives, and the feeling of failure and betrayal.
The fear of growing old. being alone, especially at night, forgotten with only one's memories for comfort. The fear of being unable to cope any more. The fear of losing control as others decide for you what is best. The fear that everyone you relied upon is now no longer there.
The fear of being ill, with no prospects of getting better. Relying on others and perhaps being a burden on family and friends. The fear of incapacity. The fear of being unable to make any decisions. The fear of being unable to afford treatment. The fear of unending pain.
The fear for others: children, grandchildren, their relatives or friends, how they are coping. How will they cope? The fear of the future and what it might bring in an ever changing world. The very fear of opening a newspaper or seeing the news that something or other has happened that will adversely affect you or your loved one.
Few of us can claim not to have experienced the real darkness of fear as it grips our minds, our imaginations and indeed our realities.
Because all these fears outlined above, and others besides not mentioned here, have actually happened to others and can very well happen to us.
One day we are living our lives happily and the next ... a quick change in circumstances can easily propel us into any of the fearful scenarios described above.
Christ taught us not to be afraid, that our God loves us. He cares for us. He will not let us perish. He is always by our side.
Yet, these fearful events are real and have happened to others, those who love and obey God, and those who don't; and can so easily happen to us. So we feel, perhaps, that our fears are justified.
Until we consider, for a moment or two, how God feels about our so-called justified fears.
Isn't our fear, justified as it might be, a sign that we don't truly trust Him? A real profession of faith that, when it comes down to it, we don't really trust Him? Somehow, somewhere, in the back of our minds, we harbour that doubt, that worry, that when things will go bad for us, as they will inevitably be for some of us, we don't really trust Him enough to be by our side in our moment of need.
Now how do you think God feels about your lack of trust in Him?
We may not be able to help these fears when they attack our minds, perhaps sub-consciously, but we can fight against them with prayer, real prayer, through gritted teeth even. Admitting to God that we are fearful and yet, trying, through every fibre of our being to trust in Him, in His love and in His caring.
Fear will try to grip us all. It is how we handle it that is our salvation. And with His grace and help we will succeed.