My children, like most children are afraid of the dark. This only happened recently for Jonah. A few months ago we would read a couple books, sing a song, pray and I would say good night and shut his door and he would go to sleep. Soon he started asking for a nightlight and it progressed to leaving the door open. Now he will randomly call for us, even with the nightlight on, the door open and the hall light on, because he’s afraid.
This morning Jonah woke up at 5am and sat in the bathroom with me while I brushed my teeth and shaved. I asked him why he woke up so early and he said because he’s scared. When I asked what he’s scared of he said, “I don’t know”.
Isn’t that true for many of us? We are afraid, we have fears, but we don’t quite know what we are afraid of. Like children, the more we learn and discover, the more our potential for fears grow. Our minds are fear factories. With the ubiquitous and instantaneous connection to information our minds are flooded even more than ever with information. All that information is processed and some of it feeds our fears. Nuclear threats, economic forecasts, natural disasters, violent crimes and even medical crisis all get processed in the fear factories of our minds. In the world of psychology they have labels for a variety of fears. In the Peanuts Christmas movie Lucy is trying to diagnose Charlie Brown: “Are you afraid of responsibility? If you are, then you have hypengyophobia. How about cats? If you’re afraid of cats, you have ailurophasia. Are you afraid of staircases? If you are, then you have climacaphobia. Maybe you have thalassophobia. This is fear of the ocean, or gephyrobia, which is the fear of crossing bridges. Or maybe you have pantophobia. Do you think you have pantophobia?”Charlie Brown asks, “What’s pantophobia?” Lucy responds, “The fear of everything.”
It is almost certain that we all have fears. The strongest of women and the toughest of men all have their fears. Some of us understand it, some of us don’t. Many times we try to mask it. I believe this is the appeal of horror shows. Some of these shows are absolutely horrendous! Regardless, people love them, I believe, because it gives them a tangible fear to distract from the real fears inside.
With so many verses in the Bible on fear, I believe we need to start with Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” It is the renewing of your mind, a work of the Spirit, which will keep you from thinking in the way of worldly fears, but will find peace and comfort in the perfect will of God. It is then that we can understand the promise of God in 2 Timothy 1:7, “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
We all have our fears and they may not disappear forever, but when we are walking with God His Spirit delivers us from fear. This Christmas may you rejoice in the greatest gift of all, Jesus Christ. With the grace of God that is delivered to man through Jesus, we can renew our minds from fear factories to peace and love. -jason