December 31, 2021

Who Is Afraid Of The New Year?

For when we came into Macedonia, this body of ours had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn–conflicts on the outside, fears within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus.
2 Corinthians 7:5-6

Facing the New Year is always somewhat scary.  Who knows what the year may hold of bane or blessing?  Have you ever asked yourself, “Why fear the unknown?  When you were born, you had two basic fears: the fear of loud noises, and the fear of falling.  But soon after your birth you began to develop other fears.  The fears that you had at birth were necessary to survive.  But as you grew older, you became afraid of other things, and sometimes by the time we reach adulthood, our list of fears has grown quite long.

“Fear is not limited to people who are in such a serious state of mental illness as to require hospital care,” says  physician Dr. G. Ernest Thompson.  He continues, “It often casts its evil influence on the happiness of people of average and normal environment.  Indeed, few of us are entirely free of some of the common anxieties which put a blight on life.  Not one of us ever carries on a normal existence for any period of time without encountering the reality of fear.”

A lot of us are first-class actors–we are the laughing, smiling picture of perfect confidence on the outside, while we are tormented by fear within our hearts.  I have noticed that often a facade of confidence is a mask that projects an image of success, but when a person lets down his guard, he unburdens a heart of fear.

Is there really an answer to this age-old problem of fear of the future?  Or is it something we must live with like the vagaries of bad weather and taxes?  People often write asking what they can do to overcome fear.  People will ask, “How can I conquer fear?”  But the way the question is asked often indicates that they either don’t want an answer or don’t expect one.  They expect me to say, “Buck up under it and learn to live with it.”  However, we do not have to be satisfied with such a tepid solution.

When he wrote to Timothy, Paul said, “God has not given to us the spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7, KJV).  Paul’s statement tells us something: unhealthy, debilitating fear is not from God.

OK, before you discount his words as coming from somebody who has never been there, let me tell you about Paul.  He had battled all kinds of fear.  Read the letter we know as 2 Corinthians.  It’s Paul’s heart.  Here he admits that when he came into Northern Greece, there were fightings without and fears within (see 2 Corinthians 7:5).  In fact, he says he was surrounded by fear.

How did Paul fight this monster of fear?  In the text I quoted, he gives us the answer.  The first key is knowing that God’s power is greater than your fear.  The realization that God is with you and that He is greater and more powerful by far than anything that will ever confront you quickly destroys fear.

The second antidote to fear is what Paul calls love.  His words are reminiscent of Christ’s comments about fearing none who could hurt the body.  Love is a power greater than fear.  When the first century Christians were persecuted, their tormentors were completely baffled by the love of the Christians for their enemies.

The third element that defeats fear is a sound mind.  You do not have to be tormented by fear:  Look to Christ and commit your life to Him.  Realize that you are His child.  Remember God has not given us the spirit of fear.  He gives the spirit of love, of power, and of a sound mind.

Resource reading: 2 Corinthians 7:1-13