Living @ ease in an Uneasy World Part 2
with Fear in an Age of Terrorism
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
March 30, 2003
Let me give you a test. In your Sunrise Update this morning you’ll find
some notes you can use to follow along with the message. And at the
beginning of those notes you’ll find a list of 20 fears/phobias. Some,
you’re probably familiar with. Others, you’ve probably never heard of.
Take a look at them and se if you can figure out what they are. And
then we’ll go through them one at a time to see how you did.
Botanophobia - Fear of plants
Ailurophobia - Fear of Cats
Apiphobia - Fear of bees
Geraunophobia - Fear of thunder
Claustrophobia - Fear of enclosed places
Neophobia - Fear of anything new
Clinophobia - Fear of going to bed
Pyrophobia - Fear of fire
Batophobia - Fear of being close to high buildings
Pupaphobia - Fear of Puppets
Triskaidekaphobia - Fear of the number 13
Xenophobia - Fear of strangers
Didaskaleinophobia - Fear of school
Bibliophobia - Fear of books
Chionophobia - Fear of snow
Blennophobia - Fear of slim
Pallophobia - Fear of balloons
Chronophobia - Fear of time
Chronomentrophobia - Fear of clocks
Arachibutyrophobia - Fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the
How’d you do? Were you able to get two or three? Anyone get five of
them? Anyone get more than that?
Most of these fears or phobias are pretty obscure. But the truth is, we
all face a variety of fears every day. Some big, some small, but all
very real. According to the Book of Lists, the top ten fears that we
5. Deep water
4. Financial problems
3. Insects and bugs
1. Speaking before a group
Of course, over the past year and a half we’ve come to know a fairly
new fear in North America: terrorism. Terrorism is the fear of fear
being used as a weapon.
Think back to the days just after the terrorist attacks of September
11, 2001. I believe the amount of fear even here in Atlantic Canada
during those days was higher than at any other time in my lifetime, and
perhaps in our history. I can’t think of any other time when so many
people shared the same fear to the same degree. Even though the attacks
were south of the border, we never felt as vulnerable as we did then.
Even the Confederation Bridge was named as a possible target and was
shut down for a period of time.
Thankfully as time has passed the level of fear has subsided somewhat,
but I think it’s still in the back of our minds. We now know that
terrorists can attack anyplace and anytime, and perhaps that’s the
message they wanted to deliver in the first place.
We’re not going to spend the whole morning talking about terrorism. I’m
not going to tell you that you need to go out and buy duct tape and
sheets of plastic in order to protect yourself. And I’m not going to
talk about the pros and cons of racial profiling. We’ve heard about
those things for months, and I don’t have anything to add.
But what I do want to do is talk about some of the dangers involved in
living in fear, and take a look at what advice the Bible gives for
dealing with these fears.
The Dangers of
I read a story this week
about when Nikita Khrushchev was premier of the Soviet Union. Obviously
it’s a story that took place a number of years ago. When Khrushchev was
premier, he would go around denouncing many of the policies and
atrocities of Joseph Stalin. One time when he was doing this in a
public meeting, he was interrupted by a heckler in the audience. The
heckler shouted out, “You were one of Stalin’s colleagues! Why didn’t
you stop him?” Khrushchev stopped what he was doing and roared at the
audience, “Who said that?” Nobody answered. After a long, agonizing
silence, during which no one dared move a muscle, Khrushchev quietly
said, “Now you know why.”
Fear has a way of paralyzing you. Even when you know you should do
something, fear can stop you dead in your tracks.
Fear doesn’t just
paralyze you and prevent you from acting in response to what’s causing
the fear; it also won’t let you think about or deal with anything else.
All that matters is the fear. You can try to suppress it, but like a
beach ball pushed under water it’ll always spring to the surface again.
It will end up consuming all of your time, your thoughts, your
energies, and it’ll eat you up inside.
C. Fear Can
We have a phrase we
sometimes use: “You scared me to death.” But did you know that it is
literally possible to be scared to death? You may remember the
earthquake which shook Los Angeles back in January of 1994. According
to cardiologist Robert Kloner, over 100 people literally died of fright
during that event. His research has shown that excessive fear can cause
the brain to release such a potent mix of chemicals that the heart
contracts and never relaxes again, causing death.
Another study in Cleveland examined fifteen victims of assault who died
even though their wounds weren’t bad enough to be fatal. The study
showed that 11 of the 15 had torn fibres and lesions in their hearts,
and that the damage was most likely caused by mortal fear.
Chances are you’ll never be frightened to death. It’s possible, but
unlikely. It is likely, however, that if fear takes up permanent
residence in your life you’ll experience some other health problems.
What are some examples of health problems that can come on as a result
Fear can cause physical death, or at least problems. It can also cause
spiritual death, or at least problems. Because fear takes your trust
away from God. When fear is allowed to reign in your life, you start to
believe that not even God can help you. And the result is that you
slowly push Him away and out of your life. You have a hard time
believing Him, you withdraw from His Church, and your growth is
severely hampered until you overcome your fear.
So fear can be a very dangerous thing when allowed to exist unchecked
in our lives. We need to find a way to handle it, and prevent it from
ruling us. Let me give you the FEAR Solution.
But before we get to that, think back to when you were a kid laying in
bed and just knew there was a monster lurking at the foot of the bed.
And you knew that monster was ready to pounce on you as soon as you
turned your back or closed your eyes. Remember how that fear was
resolved? Somebody, perhaps your mother or father, would come in, turn
on the light, and show you that you were afraid of nothing more than a
sweater hanging on a chair. Once the lights came on, the fear went away.
So by looking at this FEAR Solution I’m hoping that the lights will
come on for you… that you’ll see that you don’t have to live in bondage
to any fear.
It should be said that some fear requires medical help. There are some
conditions that need to be treated. That’s not the kind of fear I’m
talking about here. I’m talking about the everyday fear that is brought
on by our own worry, by our own imagination, and that is the result of
circumstances, not a chemical imbalance.
So let’s look at the F.E.A.R. Solution.
I read a story from Leadership Journal about a pastor who needed to
confront someone who was causing conflict in the church. But the pastor
confided to his wife that he was afraid to speak to the troublemaker.
He told her, “Every time I think about this person, I get sweaty palms.
And every time I have to confront someone, my mouth goes dry.” His
wife’s response? “Why don’t you lick your palms?”
Sometimes we just have to lick our palms and go deal with the problem.
We need to stop thinking about how fearful we are and just do it. We
have to face our fear instead of ignoring it or putting it off.
We talked about how fear can paralyze you. And right after the
terrorist attacks, people were paralyzed. They were afraid to do
anything. Do you remember the instruction the public was given to
combat the terrorists? Go shopping. As ridiculous as it sounds on the
surface, we were told to go shopping. In other words, face your fears
and go about your everyday life.
“Do the thing you fear the most, and the death of fear is certain.”
~ Neil Anderson, Freedom in Christ Ministries (Daily Devotional, The
Death of Fear, August 27, 2000)
When you try to hide from your fear, that’s when your fear controls
you. That’s when it’s the strongest. But with God on our side we can
stand our ground instead of running in fear.
Proverbs 28:1 (NLT)
The wicked run away when no one is chasing
them, but the godly are as bold as lions.
They stand their ground and face their fear.
2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)
For God has not given us a spirit of fear
and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
Read that aloud with me.
2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)
For God has not given us a spirit of fear
and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
I think this is where many of us get stuck. There’s something we have
to do but we’re afraid of the possible outcome. So we dwell on how
everything’s going to go wrong and we think about all the possible
problems that are going to emerge, and we convince ourselves that the
situation is hopeless. We’ve rehearsed the worst-case scenario over and
over again until we’re convinced it’s reality. And we need to stop it.
You’re probably familiar with the Old Testament account of how the
Israelites were taken out of slavery in Egypt and were led to the land
God promised them. God had guaranteed them that they would occupy the
land. So when they got close to the land, Moses sent 12 spies into the
land to scope it out and report back what they saw. This is their
Numbers 13:27-33 (NLT)
This was their report to Moses: "We arrived
in the land you sent us to see, and it is indeed a magnificent
country--a land flowing with milk and honey. Here is some of its fruit
as proof. But the people living there are powerful, and their cities
and towns are fortified and very large. We also saw the descendants of
Anak who are living there! The Amalekites live in the Negev, and the
Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites live in the hill country. The
Canaanites live along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and along the
But Caleb tried to encourage the people as they stood before Moses.
"Let's go at once to take the land," he said. "We can certainly conquer
But the other men who had explored the land with him answered, "We
can't go up against them! They are stronger than we are!" So they
spread discouraging reports about the land among the Israelites: "The
land we explored will swallow up any who go to live there. All the
people we saw were huge. We even saw giants there, the descendants of
Anak. We felt like grasshoppers next to them, and that's what we looked
like to them!"
Most of the spies were rehearsing what they feared would happen. They
rehearsed it so much the became convinced that the land would swallow
them up… that the big and powerful people in the land would stomp them
out like grasshoppers. They rehearsed their fear and it got the best of
Caleb, though, wasn’t dwelling on the obstacles. He wasn’t expecting
the worst. He was focused on the promise of God and was not afraid to
go into the land he had been promised. Do you crave the courage and
faith of Caleb. What a great model for us to follow. End your
In Exodus 3 and 4, we find the famous account of God speaking to Moses
through a burning bush. This is where God first called Moses to become
the man to lead the Israelites out slavery in Egypt. But Moses was
afraid. So after a long discussion, God also called Moses’ brother
Aaron to team up with Moses and help him. Could Moses have obeyed God
and gone solo to lead the people out of slavery? Well, yes, with God’s
help. But he didn’t have to. His brother was there to support him.
And we don’t have to deal with all our challenges and fears alone
today. We are the Body of Christ. We are the Church. We need to be
there for each other, through thick and thin. And it’s okay to ask for
Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NLT)
A person standing alone can be attacked and
defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even
better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.
John Maxwell, who is a best selling author, the founder and president
of InJoy based in Atlanta, and an ordained Wesleyan minister, says…
“Somewhere in your network is someone who has information you need to
solve a given problem. Someone in your network can offer you
encouragement when you struggle. Someone in your network has been where
you are now and can suggest ways to get to where you want to go. What’s
keeping you from calling them right now?”
~ John Maxwell
Ask for help. And the final thing is…
This really should have been the first point, except we wouldn’t have
spelled out “FEAR” that way. We need to rely on God. We need to trust
Him, no matter what.
Do you know that there are over 100 places in the Bible where we’re
told, “Do not fear” or “Be not afraid”? In fact, the Bible addresses
fear more than it does many other things like lust and pride. So it
would appear that overcoming our fears is a large part of our spiritual
Joshua 1:9 (NLT)
I command you--be strong and courageous! Do
not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you
wherever you go."
Proverbs 29:25 (NLT)
Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but to
trust the LORD means safety.
You can trust God and count on Him in spite of any fear that may come
against you. He is faithful to you, and He will never leave you or
abandon you. He loves you, He is God, and you can trust Him.