I recently read the story of the sinking of the Kursk submarine in the Barents Sea in the year 2000. It stunned me to find that seven countries offered help that was declined. Apparently, even though the Russian government wasn’t completely in control or even possessing full knowledge of the details concerning the situation, they chose to keep silent, deny their need for help and allow 118 crew members to die.
It seems the facts are still a bit fuzzy, but for the topic of today’s post the illustration fits.
We live in a world of fear.
Various folks have recently commented about how fearful they are because of our new president taking office. They fear the violence in our cities (nothing new, just more of it) and the natural disasters wrecking havoc across the globe. Where I live, car accidents are a multiple per day occurrence which still can unnerve me a bit since we were hit a year and a half ago.
Fear is real.
But if we let it rule us, it will sink us.
A couple of weeks ago, I was reading through the book of Matthew in the Bible and a few situations of fear based actions caught my attention. All of these fears were ones I’ve dealt with over the course of my life. Here’s my take:
- Fear of looking weak – In the above situation, the Russian government didn’t want anyone to know that they didn’t have it all together. It cost 118 lives. Owning up to our mistakes or lack of knowledge about something can feel awkward and embarrassing, but allowing that fear can cost us and others far more than the momentary discomfort of admitting we’re wrong or need help.
- Fear of what people will think of us -(vs. 9) Herod had John the baptist beheaded because of a foolish oath he made in front of his company. He was distressed because he really didn’t want to kill John, but he was more afraid of what his friends would think of him if he didn’t. Hopefully, we’ve never gone as far as murdering someone (if you have, clearly you know the power of fear) because we’ve been afraid of what people thought, but who have we hurt or sacrificed because of that fear?
- Fear caused by an inaccurate assumption -In verses 25-26, Jesus’ disciples were out in a boat in a storm. Jesus came to them to help, but they thought he was a ghost. Because of their fear in the situation, they made an inaccurate assumption which caused them more fear. It says they went from fear to terror! I can relate. I’ve made a few assumptions created by fear that ended up making the situation far worse than it needed to be.
- Fear of our circumstances – Peter, in verse 30, was in the midst of a miracle. Jesus, walking on water through the storm, answered Peter’s request to walk on the water to meet him. Peter jumped at the chance. What an amazing situation! But the moment Peter took his eyes off Jesus, and looked around at the raging wind and towering waves, he began to sink. Fortunately, he called out to Jesus and was saved.
We are all faced with difficult, sometimes tragic situations which can overwhelm us, bringing fear and uncertainty. Fear was given to us as a gift when God created us.
It keeps us safe.
We don’t jump off cliffs, place our hands on hot stoves or experiment with a circular saw to see if it will work on our limbs like it does on wood. We possess a healthy respectful fear of those dangerous things.
But like anything that we misplace in our heart or mind, fear can become a ruler or master over us taking us into harm rather than keeping us from it. God didn’t intend for fear to control our thoughts, actions or behavior towards others.
Recognizing harmful patterns is the first step in taking our lives forward.
Which of these areas do you feel might be ruling you?