For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)
Are you a ‘worrywart?” There are certain situations in which I find myself tempted to worry and fret. Our world is very conducive to worry! Even before concerns of Ebola, ISIS and the first-world problems we face every day, our Christian forefathers worried. This is because anxiety, fear and worry are problems common to man.
Abraham (Gen. 12:13; 20:2) feared man more than God when he told Sarah to lie about their relationship. Peter feared arrest when he denied Jesus and Paul counseled the fearful young pastor Timothy to be bold and not fear preaching Christ.
I think Timothy had some logical and understandable reasons to be afraid! He was living with the threat of Roman persecution under the evil Emperor Nero as he executing Christians, using them for torches, and feeding them to the lions for sport. He was dealing with hostility in the Ephesian church from those who resented his leadership, and he was subjected to the accusations of being a false teacher. He was a young man, and I think there were times he was overwhelmed by everything he faced.
Paul reminds the young pastor that the fear does not come from God and that God has given him (us) every spiritual resource to overcome fear. The problems of anxiety, fear and worry are common to man and a common component in many of our counseling cases. The Bible offers us the solutions to these problems (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pe. 1:3; Psa. 119:97-105).
A key passage to understanding and overcoming these common feelings is found in the teachings of Jesus in Matt. 6:19-34
Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Matthew 6:25 (KJV)
In English the terms fear, anxiety, panic, and worry are closely related and overlap each other. The word “thought” in the KJV in the Greek is, merimnaoô (mer-im-nah’-o). From that we get the English “worry” or “anxious.” The Greek word for fear is phobeoô ( fob-eh’-o). It’s where we get the English word phobia.
Fear is not always a bad thing for it preserves us in a dangerous world. There are some very legitimate reasons for fear, such as a car heading straight for you in traffic, or the rational fear of being bitten by an animal or harmed by a violent person.
Panic is fear that so dominates a person that he or she cannot control it or his reactions to it. Usually, irrational responses ensue. Panic stems from (and this is very important) the continual fearing of the feeling of fear itself.
Continuing to be fearful, being a “worrywart” or anxiousness often leads to panic attacks and irrational responses to life’s circumstances. I’ve seen people who struggled with anxiety threaten to quit their jobs even if they did not have another lined up. Others withdraw from life out of fear they will feel fearful at some point and those feelings are so uncomfortable for them that they avoid them by remaining in their home.
Panic attacks, irrational fears, chronic worrying are fears that are out of control and take over a person’s life. Someone who has panic attacks is operating the same way as a person who believes they are in danger even when there is no danger at all. The thoughts the person is thinking evoke such strong emotions that they are able to cause their body to think there is danger when in reality there is not.
They do not understand that their thoughts are what bring on these attacks because it feels like something powerful and beyond their control sweeps over them. I have heard it described like something they can sense coming but cannot stop, and that it is like something lurking around the corner waiting to jump out and attack them. The sensations are so unpleasant that the sufferer will do almost anything to hold them at bay. Many times they alter their entire lifestyle to avoid a panic attack by discontinuing activities and even relationships to avoid experiencing those feelings. The world becomes smaller and smaller for them as more and more things cause a panic attack and what we ultimately see is a person develops a fear of the fear.
I have seen people bound by fear this way many times in my counseling ministry. The great news is, there is hope! You do not have to live that way!
Jesus came to set the captives free from all sin; sinful thoughts, beliefs, desires, and actions. If you are one who suffers from panic attacks, please connect with a biblical counselor who will show you the way to help and hope through the Word of God and its application to your life.
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