WHAT DO YOU fear?
I have a slight fear of snakes.
My 9-year-old boy thinks it’s hilarious. He sometimes hides his stuffed animal snake under my pillow and gets a good laugh when I pretend to be scared.
But, in real life, I’m like Indiana Jones, (or so I like to think), when he looked down in the well of souls and said, “Why did it have to be snakes?”
I suppose it’s a little irrational. I’ve never been bitten by a snake. My life has never been threatened by a snake. I just don’t like being around these slithery things.
Having some fear is good.
For example, fear when you hear a rattlesnake keeps you safe. I hope I never need to experience this in person, but that’s probably a good fear.
So what about fearing God? I think this is a different kind of fear.
Fearing God might even be called a righteous fear. It is more of a feeling of reverence and respect than the fear of the rattlesnake.
We often see “Fear not” in the scriptures. In Isaiah, it says, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” (Isaiah 41:10). In the New Testament, John taught that “perfect love casteth out fear” (1 John 4:18).
If fear of real danger is OK and fearing God is OK, what is the type of fear that we should avoid?
The fear we do not want is what some psychologists call “irrational fear,” or “unwarranted fear” or “fear of future events that will not likely occur.”
This can be a kind of fear that is debilitating or almost paralyzing.
Some of these fears might include thoughts that you are not good enough, thoughts that you do not belong, thoughts that you will never find joy, thoughts that the future is ominous and thoughts that you are so flawed because of past mistakes that you are beyond the reach of the redeeming power of Jesus Christ.
In 2 Timothy 1:7, we read, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” Fear is not something God wants us to have, at least not irrational fear.
It seems to me that Satan might be using fear as a tactic to halt our progression.
We are not meant to live in a constant state of fear, especially fear of things we cannot change, fear of the unknown or fear of man.
This type of fear can hold us back and keep us from growing. We can sit and wring our hands and worry ourselves sick over things that we cannot control or things that will likely not happen, but what good will that do?
We are on earth to learn, to progress, to make human connections, to have joy and to grow closer to our Heavenly Father through faith.
Fear has no part of it. Fear is a stumbling block the Adversary puts in our way.
It’s a red herring. It’s distracting us from what is really important in life.
I suggest we clear the path and try to identify the source of irrational fears.
Get rid of anything that might keep you from living in happiness. God wants His children to experience joy.
We are all fellow travelers to the grave, but we do not need to make this journey wracked in fear at every turn.
Replace fear with hope.
Seek out good and uplifting books.
Seek out positive and inspirational media.
Seek out friends who inspire and elevate.
Smile. Wave to a neighbor.
Do some service. Seek out the good life.
Place your hope in the Savior Jesus Christ.
Issues of Faith is a rotating column by five religious leaders on the North Olympic Peninsula. Bishop Jason Bringhurst is the leader of the Mount Pleasant Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Port Angeles. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.