What are you afraid of? Society has many identified phobias that affect people. I believe it was Hawkeye in M*A*S*H who described his claustrophobia by saying that the idea that the walls were closing in and the ceiling was about to fall in was utterly impossible, but it was happening. (paraphrased) Phobias are fears that arise that can be debilitating and keep us from doing what we want to do. With Indiana Jones, it was snakes. I don’t know if it’s a phobia for me, but I get weak-kneed every time I look down from a high place. All the phobias fit into four basic categories: natural environment, animals, medical issues, or specific situations. If you don’t have any phobias, be kind to those who do. If you do have a phobia, there is hope.
Israel continued to deal with a terrible situation in the nation. There was constant threat of attack from outside forces. Everyone wanted to conquer them. It was easy to be scared, to develop a phobia about the end of their society. Early on it was the Philistines. The Assyrians posed a major threat and even conquered the Northern Kingdom. Ultimately, the Babylonians conquered Judah. God had a message for his people in dealing with their fear. “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” (Psalm 46:1-3)
It is possible to have fears that aren’t phobias. The way to deal with that kind of fear is trusting in God. It is a strong statement of our faith that even if the world is destroyed, God will still be our refuge and strength. Let’s face it: Israel and later Judah didn’t always display that faith. God’s word is never designed to blast a message at you to make you feel guilty when your faith isn’t perfect. We still have fears. What will happen tomorrow? What will happen when I die? Who will take care of my family if I can’t? Fear is natural – it comes from not knowing the future; it comes from dealing with any form of the unknown. The way to deal with that fear is to place it in the hands of God who is our refuge, who gives us strength for living each day, who holds the future.
Many who followed our journey in my wife’s battle against cancer talked about the strength we had. It wasn’t always there. We were pretty sure it was cancer based on the way the testing was going. Still, we didn’t have a diagnosis for a long time. Then the call came: we got the diagnosis that my wife really had breast cancer. In spite of knowing that in our hearts before it was official, a diagnosis from the doctor was cause to fear. We cried. We discussed the fears of what could happen, not knowing the extent of the cancer. Then, in the middle of the discussion my wife looked at me and said, “God’s got this.” While we knew that all along, that statement sealed the deal. While the road still had bumps, whenever things got tough, one of us would say, “Remember, God’s got this.” Our fear was easy – it wasn’t a phobia. Phobias take a long time to deal with and may never be overcome. Maybe those words: “God’s got this” can help you deal with the issues that trigger your phobia. If you have a phobia, may you find grace and comfort in the truth that God is your refuge and strength. Whatever the intensity of your fear or phobia may be, God is your ever present help in those times of fear.
Oh Lord, at times there seems so much to be afraid of. What will happen in the future? How will we deal with this medical problem? How will we deal with this financial problem? The list goes on. I pray comfort for all those who fear. I pray Your presence for all those whose phobias prevent them from enjoying Your grace every day. Be our refuge and help in time of trouble.