Thursday, August 20, 2015

Fear As Sin

"Fear is a sin." I've heard this a number of times. Jesus tells us not to fear, the Bible tells us 365 times not to fear; therefore being afraid is a sin. I read it in an article yesterday. I'm thinking I've heard it from some big name evangelists I otherwise tend to agree with.

I've thought about it a lot. I was dangerously close to developing a medication-requiring storm phobia a few years ago, so I had to think about it. If fear is a sin, and any hint of severe weather sent me into freak out mode, was I adding insult to injury?  How could I ask God for help with my fear if I was sinning against Him by feeling fear in the first place?

Fear is an emotion. Emotions, by definition, are out of our conscious control. They are physical reactions to circumstances. Fear involves a perception of danger followed by an adrenaline rush. Depending on the severity of perception and the duration of adrenal stimulation, "simple" fear can become panic attacks or PTSD. Are those sins? Should I feel guilty every time a tornado warning siren blares and frightens me?

I agree that I know I have no reason to fear. God is bigger than any problem I will ever face. However, I have this earth suit that responds to perceived threats with adrenaline, shortness of breath, increased heart rate. I will experience fear at some point, just as I experience anger, grief, and happiness. I believe the sin part comes with the action that follows the emotion.

I cannot stop an adrenaline surge. I can choose what to do with it. I can choose to take the 10 seconds to breathe deeply, to pray and give my fear to God. I can focus on the cause of my fear or the cause of my salvation. That's where the risk of sin lies: in the action.

"Worry" is another issue. I agree that worrying is a sin, because worrying is a controllable action. I choose to worry when I dwell on what frightens me instead of who delivers me. I am a champion worrier, but I am retraining my brain to focus on God instead of worry. I thank Him instead for all the ways He cares for me. Sometimes I have to start very small and silly to grease the wheels of gratitude, but that's OK. I'm learning, and the psalms tell me God not only knows my every thought, He's OK with me telling Him about them.

Fear feeds itself. The more I fear being afraid, the more afraid I become. "Fear is the mind-killer." Better to face my fear, let it wash over and past me, and know that I remain securely inside God's plan. Fear grows less, and love grows more.

Sin or not, God is the only remedy. Turn to Him.

Keep the faith.

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