There are many types of fear we could name or count, but they all have the same source and the same purpose. They all are from Satan and they all are intended to steal the life Jesus died to give us.
We often think fear is simply an emotion or feeling, but it also affects us physically. In Who Switched Off My Brain? author Caroline Leaf notes, “[Fear] triggers more than 1,400 known physical and chemical responses, and activates more than 30 different hormones and neurotransmitters.” Fear, she says, is at the root of all stress. When fear causes a stress reaction, it actually “marinates” the body in toxic chemicals. This, of course, is terribly unhealthy and threatening to our physical well-being.
There are many ways Satan uses fear to steal from us. For example, the fear that we will not be accepted as we are causes us to develop phony personalities that stifle our true selves and hide who God has made us to be. The fear of failure prevents us from ever trying new things or stretching ourselves to do more than we feel comfortable doing. The fear of the future can cause us not to enjoy today. Even something like the fear of flying can prohibit our being able to discover and enjoy the beauty and excitement of places we would like to visit.
Fear can absolutely paralyze us, and in its more advanced stages can drive us to do things that are completely irrational. It can even cause mental and emotional problems.
Time magazine printed a story in August 1989 that shows how utterly destructive and controlling fear can be. It reported that Charles Bodeck, a retiree who had received several tick bites during fur-trapping expeditions, grew fearful that he had contracted Lyme disease. He was also concerned he had transmitted it to his wife.
Despite many medical tests and repeated assurances from doctors that he was not infected and passing the disease to his wife was impossible (because he didn’t have it), Bodeck remained terrified. His fear so completely controlled him that he eventually killed his wife and himself with a shotgun. When police searched his mailbox after the incident, they found it crammed with information on Lyme disease—and a note confirming yet another doctor’s appointment for a test.
Fear can be a powerful influence in our lives. I fully believe it is the devil’s tool to keep us miserable and out of the will of God. It drains our courage, presents everything from a negative viewpoint and prevents us from making progress. Destinies are destroyed because of fear—fear of pain, fear of discomfort, fear of lack, fear of sacrifice, fear that life is going to be too hard, fear of losing friends, fear of being alone, fear of losing your reputation, fear that no one will understand you, fear that you’re missing God, and on and on.
Fear is the enemy’s perversion of faith. He says to us: “Believe what I’m telling you. This is not going to work. Your prayers aren’t any good. You don’t have right standing with God. You are a failure.”
Fear always tells you what you’re not, what you don’t have, what you can’t do and what you’ll never be. But Romans 8:15 says: “For [the Spirit which] you have now received [is] not a spirit of slavery to put you once more in bondage to fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption [the Spirit producing sonship] in [the bliss of] which we cry, Abba (Father)! Father!” (AMP).
You do not have to live in bondage to fear or allow fear to control your life. You can be bold, courageous and adventurous.
The word Abba was a term little children used in addressing their fathers. It would be similar to our word Daddy. It is less formal than Father and denotes a comfortable closeness between a child and his or her father.
Jesus said we could call God “Abba” because He had delivered us from all fear. He will always take care of His beloved children, and we can approach Him without fear of rejection. When we run to Him with any problem or pain, He’s waiting with open arms to comfort and encourage us.
Joyce Meyer is the author of more than 80 books, including her most recent, Power Thoughts: 12 Strategies to Win the Battle of the Mind. She is also the host of the Enjoying Everyday Life radio and TV programs.