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Where does fear come from?

Fear is a funny thing. Not “haha” funny, but funny in the sense that it can come out of nowhere without any sort of warning. Fear is this force that can be all-consuming and take over our lives in the blink of an eye. I think that the year 2021 could be described as a year of fear for many and I don’t think it would make sense for me to write a list of the things that we as a society had to be scared of because that is relative.

The definition of fear is an “unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.” What I find fascinating about this definition is the fact that it contains so many words that are subjective. There is nothing about the word fear that has absolute certainty to it. It is accompanied by words like “belief” and “likely” that lead us to believe that fear is this force that has little truth or weight behind it. So then where does fear come from?

If I’m being completely honest, what lead me to start writing about fear is the fact that I’ve been stuck in a state of fear for some time. I tried affirming myself by saying things like, “Well of course it’s okay to be scared, you’re in the middle of a pandemic” or “Have you watched the news lately? It’d be weird if I wasn’t living in fear.” And then I realized that this fear was stealing a lot of things in my life including joy and peace.

My favorite bible story is one that is extremely short but so powerful. It comes from the book of Matthew Chapter 8. Jesus is sitting in the boat with his disciples and is literally taking a nap. The boat is rocking and the waves are crashing and Jesus is TAKING A NAP. The disciples are obviously freaking out and thinking that the boat is going to tip and that they’re going to drown and die. Then Jesus wakes up, asks the disciples why they are afraid, and the water immediately calms. I like to imagine that this is how Jesus is looking at my life right now. While I’m at times being crippled with anxiety and fear, Jesus is looking down and saying “Emma take a nap, I’ve got this.”

While it is not realistic to be without fear at all times, it is realistic to remember that the God of the universe did not design fear to be something that takes over our life. I think that of all the forces on this planet, the one that the devil loves the most is fear. Fear can torment us and take us away from things that God calls us to do. It can take us to a place of isolation and anxiety. However, the God of the universe wants us to trust in Him enough to know that fear is a liar.

The truth is God wants us to live a life of joy, peace, and fearlessness (and possibly a nap every now and then). In the same book as the story of Jesus in the boat, he says something that is so simple but changes the way we can look at fear. In Matthew 7:27 he says, “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” And if you think about it, what does fear cause us to do? Worry. And what does worrying do? Nothing.

I’ve shared in speaking engagements and on my blog before that God does not anger in us being anxious or worried or fearful. Anxiety disorders and mental illness are real. And there’s a reason that we have therapists, medication, and other earthly things to help aid us in these illnesses. However, I do believe that it is incredibly important to remind ourselves of where fear comes from, and it’s not from God.

Fear isn’t something that we can just eliminate. It’s not something that we can completely get rid of because sometimes circumstances and life’s challenges are going to create fear. However, there are forces so much more powerful than fear. Those forces are joy and peace. And if we can remind ourselves of who joy and peace come from, those things can never be stolen.

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