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The Power of Fear

With so much turmoil in the world over the Coronavirus pandemic and the meltdown in the stock market, I thought I might write a couple of blogs on the main driver behind all of this: Fear.

Fear is a powerful emotion. It can run wild in our imagination. C.S. Lewis reminds us that God will give us the strength to bear what comes our way, but does not provide the strength to handle all the things we imagine will happen to us.

In fact, I believe most of what we fear rarely comes to pass. I heard this acronym somewhere:

False

Expectations

Appearing

Real

Fear comes into our lives when we face circumstances that create uncertainty over the future, and these circumstances can possibly turn out badly for us.

What I have come to realize is that there are four predominant issues that cause fear.

  1. The first is fear in your business and financial life. Think about all the fear and anxiety over the economic fallout from this virus. Potential loss of jobs, business closings, the loss in value of a retirement account, the ability to pay bills, just to name a few.
  2. Worry about the well-being of those we love and care about most. It can be a parent, a sibling, a friend. But most people’s greatest fears involve their children and grandchildren. My daughter just heard that the last two months of her senior year will be spent online. It was a crushing blow. I wonder what kind of job is out there for her as the economy suffers. It is easy to be fearful over this.
  3. Fear over health related issues, including death. This virus has created all types of fear as it rapidly spreads around the world, and every day it is announced how many people have died in the last 24 hours.
  4. The final issue that creates fear in our lives is not pertinent to this pandemic but it could be, particularly if it costs us our jobs. We fear what people think about us. It is amazing how we worry about how we are perceived by others. Think about how much energy we expend trying to impress others or try to hide inadequacies. From the work that I do with men I have learned that most men’s greatest fear is the fear of failing. It is like a psychological death. We so easily grow up with the belief that real men never fear. Real men always advance in their career and never lose their jobs.

The uncertainty over the future is causing so many people to live unsettled lives, which creates all kinds of fear and anxiety. Realizing we have no control over this virus or the economy, we carry this burden around and allow it to weigh down our hearts.

The problem is that God did not design us to be burden-bearing creatures. In the Bible we are told that we are like sheep, not elephants or stallions. Sheep cannot carry much of anything. Also, they must have a shepherd or they will die. The shepherd guides, protects, and nurtures the sheep.

This is why Tim Keller believes we live in such fear today. We have drifted away from our shepherd. He believes the beginning of fear is when we conclude we don’t need God and that we can live much better without Him, to be autonomous and live on our own. When we choose to live this way, we throw open the door and allow fear to infiltrate our lives.

The reason this happens is as we move away from God, without realizing it we begin to experience a real sense of our own finiteness here on earth. We are trying to take on a position in the universe that is too big for us.

Jesus tells us that He is the good shepherd. If we have never been close to Him or have drifted away from Him, He invites us to draw near to Him. The Apostle Peter describes it like this:

“For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.” 1 Peter 2:25


Richard E Simmons III is the founder and Executive Director of The Center for Executive Leadership and a best-selling author.

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