Blog

Mar 03, 2021 08:00am
3 Wrong Responses to Fear and 3 Right Ones
1025 Views

If you were to consult a child development book or even look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs that ranks human needs, you would find that safety and security are second only to food and shelter on the list.  

I ponder this in light of the widespread responses to fear in our world today. Some respond to their fear with anger, some respond to their fear with isolating themselves from others, and some try to take control of as much as possible in an effort to ease the anxiety they feel.

When I’m working with people who struggle with anxiety, one of the tools we work on after they learn how to calm their body down is challenging their own thoughts by focusing on what is true, what is accurate, and what is helpful. Unfortunately anger, isolation, and control are not helpful, but there is certainly an appropriate response that is helpful.

The problem is that none of these responses actually provide the lasting haven of peace that we experience when we are truly safe and secure. What then can we do to find this kind of security in such a tumultuous time?

As I have pondered this over the last few weeks, the verse from Ecclesiastes 1:9 came to my mind: “That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.” This passage reminds us that there is a limit to what we actually have control of and what we don’t. It also reminds us that history repeats itself because humans are the same sin-cursed creatures as they have been since Adam.  Maybe you are wondering as you read this, “How is that comforting?”  Bear with me and I will explain.

This concept of feeling secure in the midst of chaos has played out very vividly in my life this past year. Partially due to COVID and partially due to a need to move closer to our parents to help out, my husband and I have moved and are currently living in a travel trailer in the middle of a pasture while we are building a house. While it certainly presents with challenges, one of the opportunities we have is to be mesmerized on a daily basis by God’s creation.  

And while there is all kind of chaos playing out on your TV, you can walk outside and see the same stars in the same place every night at the same time.  You can watch the same sunrise in the same direction and the same sunset in the same direction every day.  The animals continue to behave and survive the same way they always have and the seasons play out just like they have since creation.  

The comfort and truth in this is that God is still in control of the world like He always has been. Mankind is still behaving like he does in a sin-cursed world and God still uses the situations we create for the good of all and the glory of Himself. Illness is still here as the consequence of sin,  and God still offers hope for a time and place in heaven where we not only escape sin’s penalty but also its presence. But not right now.

Of course most of us, while we can appreciate hope for the hereafter, are really more interested in, “What about now?” 

So let’s talk about what we can do right now:

Previously I noted that anger, control, and isolation are what humans tend to do in response to fear. But I would tell you that the opposite of these is what brings us true peace and security. 

#1 Anger

As you have seen, anger as it plays out in physical aggression, verbal aggression, and backbiting just creates more chaos, so I would tell you that Christ’s approach is truly an example for us to follow. He demonstrated and commands us that we can be angry but not sin. Jesus spoke truth in love.  Even with the Pharisees, Jesus was speaking truth to them but always left the door open to them for repentance and therefore forgiveness.  

Second Corinthians 5 tells us that we are given this same ministry of reconciliation that calls us to not hold sin against those who are willing to repent. In reality, if we just speak the truth about our anger by talking about what our fear, frustration, or hurts are, anger tends to dissipate.

#2 Control 

It’s a tricky concept.  We think that if we take control of a situation we will feel much better.  But the truth is, taking control only gives us a temporary peacefulness because there is SO much in this life of which we are not in control. So I would tell you that instead of trying to take control of any given situation, we would be more at peace by submitting and trusting the God who has been consistently in control of our world, our every breath, and every government that has ever existed. 

First Peter 2 lays out for us how we are to live in the world as travelers, not permanent citizens. The summary of this chapter would include love without hypocrisy, submit to governments placed over you, submission to employers, and submission to Christ as our shepherd.  Sounds like a lot of submission, doesn’t it? The only thing in Scripture that we are commanded to take control of is our own bodies and minds.

#3 Isolation

The last response to fear that we tend toward is isolation. This one is probably the most devastating, especially long term. We were created for relationships, so when we are working contrary to how God created us, it never goes well. This is one of the traits we have as humans that mimics God’s image. Just look at the extent to which God was willing to go for a relationship with us!  Even the most introverted of personality types needs some interaction with others. Why? Because when we are lonely or feeling unloved, or even unlovable, we need someone outside our own mind to challenge those thoughts.  

Interactions with others give us evidence that we are not alone, or unloved, or unlovable.  The interactions with others also challenge the extreme nature of the fear being placed on us through media and other communication outlets.  

You can believe that our entire world is not redeemable if all you do is look at your TV or social media. But you will know peace that comes from trusting God even when you cannot see how it will come about if you do the following three things:

– Look outside at God’s creation.

– Engage with people on a personal level. 

– Read God’s Word. In it you’ll find the declaration of God’s love for humankind and the sacrifice he made of His Son to have a relationship with us.  

Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  

You know, small children find their safety and security in consistency. Consistent routines, consistent feedings, consistent love from parents, consistent discipline. We are really not much different. Need security? God is consistent with all of His creation from the seasonal changes to the rhythm of your heartbeat. God is a good parent:  Providing for our needs, loving us beyond measure, and disciplining us when we need correction or protection from ourselves.  Because of God’ss consistency, we can know security!

Copyright © 2021 by T’Shana Everitt @ https://www.yourfuturehope.com/. No part of this article may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from Lifeword.org.