The Coronavirus scare has me thinking about reactions to fear. Oddly there has been a run on toilet paper as a result of the virus. Water bottles have disappeared like the utility companies were going to stop providing services.
Fear is a powerful thing.
I had the great pleasure of accompanying my son’s eighth-grade class to Magic Mountain in Southern California. The boys were discussing the things they would do on this class trip. They had brave plans for all manner of thirteen-year-old merriment. All of which was fine but when we arrived at one of the most roller coaster heavy amusement parks in the country, one of their brave numbers started to show signs of cracking.
The group of friends approached one of the tamer coasters and one of their numbers started to get quiet. Soon the word was out the young man had a fear of roller coasters. It was also clear that his fear might impact the whole day’s plan. This is where his peers stepped in.
These boys pulled out all the stops to convince him that it would be safe. They encouraged, cajoled and guaranteed his safety. It was quite a thing to watch. But I do believe that what ruled the day was the compassion that they showed. His closest friends were generally kind and encouraging more than manipulative. And his willingness to face this fear was as much part of their relationship as it was bravery.
He eventually got on the coaster and a couple of others as I recall. After all, these were his friends and they wanted him to enjoy what they enjoyed. It would be better together. The greater victory of the day was the second ride. The choice then fell much more greatly to him.
We can be afraid of things for no logical reason. I read recently of a man who was nearly debilitated by a fear of sweating in front of a stranger when first they met. I have had internal conversations on many occasions when faced with heights above my comfort zone. ( “The likelihood of this rock slipping over this cliff at this moment is so slight that you should not even think about it.”)
The Bible throws fear as an interesting opponent. The Bible says, “Perfect love casts out fear.” I know the context is fear of God and faith in redemption, but when I watched those boys help their friend overcome his fear that day it was their love for him that won out.
If we believe that God is loving, and so completely so that the Apostle John can declare God’s essence to be love. It reshapes the mind. The Bible reminds the neophyte that fear of an all-powerful being is reasonable at minimum as a beginning of wisdom. It is basic playground wisdom to be fearful of the strong. But God has no intention of leaving us there. This incredibly strong being is a defender of the weak because He is motivated by love for mankind.
If fear is the beginning of wisdom, it only takes knowledge of the person that you fear to settle the matter. If the person is malicious then further protections must be put in place. If the person loves you, being connected to them tips the scales in your favor. This is true on playgrounds and in the grand dynamic of God and man.
God has proven His love. Jesus has demonstrated it on the cross. So, my friends, fear not God He wants only the best for you and all of us.