When fear comes calling

Dr. Marc Drake, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church Sun Lakes

The National Institute of Mental Health has indicated that anxiety disorders are reaching epidemic proportions. Research indicates that in a given year, nearly 50 million Americans will experience a panic attack, phobias or other anxiety disorders. As a result, the United States has become the most anxious nation in the world.

Furthermore, for those of us getting older, there are new challenges and, perhaps, new fears. One doctor intones, “Well, what you have is consistent with aging.” I’m beginning to realize that a lot of things are consistent with aging! Author Max Lucado tells about an app his wife discovered that guesses a person’s age by evaluating a picture of the person’s face. He says it missed her age by 15 years to the young side. Of course, she liked that. But it missed his by five years to the old side. So, he retook it and it added seven more. Then 10. Lucado said he quit before it pronounced him dead!

It seems there’s much to be anxious about. Yet, we’re told that there are 365 “fear nots” in the Bible; that’s one for every day of the year! So how is it possible to be free from the fears and anxieties that seem to stalk us at every turn? A story from the past can help: On January 25, 1934, German pastor Martin Neimoller confronted Adolph Hitler face-to-face in the name of Christ. Consequently, Neimoller was later seized by the Gestapo and placed in solitary confinement. On the morning of his trial, as he was taken from his cell and led through eerie underground passageways, Neimoller began to experience overwhelming fear. Suddenly, however, he heard a whispered voice: “The name of the Lord is a strong tower. The righteous run to it and are safe.” It was the guard speaking those words – under his breath! Upon hearing that comforting truth from the Bible (see Proverbs 18:10), Martin Neimoller’s fear vanished. And in its place came an indescribable peace that did not leave him, even in the difficult days to come.

The wonderful expression, “the name of the Lord,” stands for the perfect characteristics of God such as faithfulness, power, mercy and wisdom, on which those who know him rely for security. In a day when, for many people, fear erodes their faith, dashes their hope, steals their freedom and quells their joy, there is an answer: “The name of the Lord is a strong tower.” Upon whom or what are you relying for security? In whom or what have you placed your faith?

For those who know Christ, God’s presence will sustain, his purpose will guide, his promises will encourage and his power will be supplied. How good to know that in the chaotic times of our age, there is a “fear not” for every day of the year!