Causes of Fear

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Change has always been something I dread.

It’s the fear of the unknown, the fear of losing everything that you treasure and cherish today.

Whether it was as a shy five-year-old who cried when his Mom made him run across the field for his first soccer practice or as a teen who did everything he could to avoid having to join a speech and debate club meeting, I’ll be the first to admit that my natural inclination is to resist change and to fear the unknown.

Once I grow accustomed to something, it’s incredibly tough to pull me away from it – just ask my family. For instance, ever since I was five, I’ve had the same silly birthday cake – it’s shaped like a turtle with tons of frosting and loads of candy. Traditions are important to me. While maintaining traditions is all good, being unwilling to accept necessary changes and refusing to take crucial actions because it’s “too scary,” aren’t traits you want to be known for. 

While this is certainly one personal illustration of fear, fear is a broad term that has many manifestations. To provide clarity to this brief discussion, Merriam-Webster provides the definition of fear that I have in mind for this particular post:

1) To be afraid of (something or someone)

2) To expect or worry about (something bad or unpleasant)

(If you’re interested in learning more about the fear of God, I just skimmed this article from Ligonier which looks helpful.)

Sure, we can make excuses for fear or label it as something that sounds more “palatable,” but if we really attempted to mine the ultimate causes of fear, (and take the following with a grain of salt!) I believe it ultimately boils down to:

1) A sinful fusion of pride and the fear of man

which ultimately leads to …

2) A distrust in the power and sovereignty of God

Honestly, I think pride is one of the key instigators of fear:

A. Pride: Instead of trusting His Word (Psalm 119:105), or the godly counsel given to us by parents (Proverbs 1:8), or mentors (Proverbs 15:22), to guide you, you decide to trust yourself. Bad idea (Proverbs 16:18). We are to trust in the Lord with all of our heart (Proverbs 3:5-8) and yes, that takes humility, realizing that we don’t have all the answers. That’s often the place where we trust God the most (Psalm 56:3-4).

Fear of Man: A fear of man results from pride, a sinful belief that “my way is the best way.” When you have this mindset, you allow your actions to be controlled by whatever and whoever. Big mistake (Luke 12:4-5, Galatians 1:10, Proverbs 29:25, 1 Thessalonians 2:4). Look to the example of Peter (Acts 5:29).

As mentioned earlier, when we are prideful, this leads to …

B. Distrust: This is a loss of trust in God’s sovereignty and power, that nothing occurs without Him willing it (Job 42:2, Daniel 4:35, Psalms 135:6). We think we have to take control and ensure that everything will turn out as we think it ought to be because we forget that God is sovereign and in control. (Pride!) In contrast, there is a great comfort in knowing that God is all-sovereign and all-powerful (Isaiah 26:3-4). He will direct our paths (Proverbs 16:9, Psalm 37:5).

Anyway folks, those were just a few thoughts on the issue. I know I in no way covered the topic sufficiently. It still did take a lot longer than I thought it would to write this, however.

Fear and anxiety are not necessarily sinful. They should, however, cause us to trust in God instead of seeking to allay our fears by looking to ourselves for comfort. His Words are true. He is sovereign, He is in control.

Have a wonderful Sunday!

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One thought on “Causes of Fear

  1. greatlyrejoice@gmail.com

    Thank you Jonathan for your words of wisdom on this issue. I learned what fear really is, not what I thought it was. Like you said, it isn’t something that I can just use as an excuse to hide pride. It isn’t something that is expected to happen or is normal. For example, I cannot say, “I have a right to be afraid about this.” I see that it really is an issue of pride not of independence. It truly is better to trust in the Lord than to trust in yourself or others. There is comfort and hope waiting for us in God if we will accept it.
    Thank you for your encouragement and challenge to trust God!
    -Bethany

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