February 6, 2008
by Meghan Kleppinger, Editor, Christianity.com
For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!”
The word “phobia” comes from the Greek word for fear, phobos. One of my college psychology professors explained a phobia as an irrational fear of something that can potentially be harmful. Arachnophobia, the fear of spiders, for example, is an abnormal fear of spiders. Spider bites can be deadly, but most spiders are harmless and if a person gets bit by one, the chances of it being a lethal bite are minimal.
Still, a person who suffers from this phobia, like me, can’t be told to “not worry” when they see one of those eight-legged monsters. When I see a spider, the blood drains from my face, I can’t move… actually, all I can do is scream until someone comes to rescue me. I’m not kidding. I, a grown adult, have been known to stand on top of a table and scream until my mother, yes, my mother, comes and gets rid of the disgusting arachnid.
I am very, very, very afraid of spiders… but truthfully, my phobia issues don’t end there. Everyone has their “issue.” My issue, my vice, my weakness, and my greatest struggle, can all be summed up in one word: “fear.”
Out of curiosity, I recently decided to see if there was a phobia for a generalized fear of everything. There is. It’s called panphobia (or pantaphobia), and is simply defined as a fear of everything.
As I researched panphobia, I learned that this is more than the every day worrywart sort of fear. It’s a medical condition that is persistent, debilitating, and very difficult to treat. It’s related to the paranoia typically found in Schizophrenics. After discovering this, I quickly decided that I don’t have panphobia.
I realized that I’m not necessarily afraid of everything, I just worry about everything – and in case you’re wondering, the definition for the Greek word for worry (merimnao) has more to do with an anxious concern than a debilitating fear.
I’m one of those people who worry even more if there isn’t anything to worry about. I guess that would be called something like “Worry-phobia” – a fear of having nothing to worry about. Yes, I worry about those people I love, but I also worry about the starving parentless children on other side of the globe that I will never meet. I get worried when it rains one day too many or if too many days pass without a drop.
Okay, I’m exaggerating… a bit, but you get my point. The thing is God doesn’t call worry panphobia or worry-phobia, He calls it sin.
For me it is about control, and when I don’t feel like I have control, I worry. It is certainly something God is continually and persistently working on in my life. He has been teaching me to trust Him through some painful and scary circumstances lately.
I know I’m not alone in the journey toward freedom from worry, so I’m going to share some helpful scripture with you. The following verses declare that His truth is greater than any worse-case-scenario or real-life-circumstance we can encounter.
“Do not be afraid of them; the LORD your God himself will fight for you.” (Deuteronomy 3:22)
“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:8)
“Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:29-31)
“Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” (Matthew 6:8b)
“Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" (Hebrews 13:6b)
“Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” (Revelation 1: 17b, 18)
Isn’t it great that God doesn’t tell us to do something without equipping us to do it first! Through His Word, He encourages and prepares us to face the world, which is after all, can be pretty scary place… especially with all of those blasted spiders!
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32)
Intersecting Faith & Life: Hudson Taylor, A British missionary to China in the late 1800s, gave this advice – “The branch of the vine does not worry, and toil, and rush here to seek for sunshine, and there to find rain. No; it rests in union and communion with the vine; and at the right time, and in the right way, is the right fruit found on it. Let us so abide in the Lord Jesus.”