FEAR IS NOT FROM GOD!!
In no way, shape or form does God want you to be afraid of him or anything in life. Fear is a killer and he knows it. The message of Heaven is, FEAR NOT!! We see it from angels over and over, we see it from Jesus and we see that message from the Apostle Paul.
WHAT IS FEAR?
Fear is a human emotion that is triggered by a perceived threat. It is a basic survival mechanism that signals our bodies to respond to danger with a fight or flight response. Essentially, fear is an attempt to keep ourselves safe.
If you think about it, most of what you’re afraid of…NEVER HAPPENS. Let that sink in a moment…
You spend a significant amount of time imagining what you’ll do in response to a perceived threat or negative situation. But here’s the kicker, that thing doesn’t even happen most of the time, so all that time spent afraid is wasted.
Fear is actually damaging your health. If you live in constant fear, whether from physical dangers in your environment or a threat you perceive, you can become incapacitated and stuck in an unhealthy and destructive cycle.
Fear is only useful when it prepares you to react to actual danger. Once you sense a potential danger, your body releases hormones that:
Slow or shut down functions not needed for survival (such as our digestive system)
Sharpen functions that might help us survive (such as eyesight). Our heart rate increases, and blood flows to muscles so we can run faster.
Your body also increases the flow of hormones to an area of the brain known as the amygdala to help you focus on the presenting danger and store it in our memory. This can be good and bad. If the perceived threat is warranted, you want to be alert to avoid it. But if the threat is the result of worry or your imagination, that intense focus can be damaging. Sustained focus on a fearful situation trains your body to remember the fear. Eventually you will shut down.
We’re not just talking about being chased by a lion in the jungle, we’re talking about real life situations. Here are some common fears:
Fear of the future
Fear of losing your job
Fear of sickness and disease
Fear of your children being harmed
Fear of death
Fear of not fulfilling your call
Fear of losing your salvation
Do any of those strike a chord with you? What would you say is your biggest fear?
How long you’re afraid of something has more to do with how you react to the situation that the situation itself.
THE PHYSICAL IMPACT OF SUSTAINED FEAR
Living under constant threat has serious health consequences.
Physical health. Fear weakens our immune system and can cause cardiovascular damage, gastrointestinal problems such as ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome, and decreased fertility. It can lead to accelerated aging and even premature death.
Memory. Fear can impair formation of long-term memories and cause damage to certain parts of the brain, such as the hippocampus. This can make it even more difficult to regulate fear and can leave a person anxious most of the time. To someone in chronic fear, the world looks scary and their memories confirm that.
Brain processing and reactivity. Fear can interrupt processes in our brains that allow us to regulate emotions, read non-verbal cues and other information presented to us, reflect before acting, and act ethically. This impacts our thinking and decision-making in negative ways, leaving us susceptible to intense emotions and impulsive reactions. All of these effects can leave us unable to act appropriately.
Mental health. Other consequences of long-term fear include fatigue, clinical depression, and PSTD.
WATCH TO MY MESSAGE ON THIS TOPIC. AUDIO VERSION HERE.
THE GOOD NEWS
It’s pretty clear, fear is not just a negative emotion, it has an effect on your body that can make you physically sick and cause long-term emotional damage. The key is to choose a different response than fear to scary situations. How you react to any given situation is your choice. Yes, something may legitimately be a threat, but you don’t have to react in fear.
Emotions usually run their course in your body’s chemistry in about 2 minutes. The reason they stick around is you keep thinking in patterns that cause the same hormones and chemicals to be released. If you can focus on something else, you will actually begin to feel different in about 2 minutes. I recommend focusing on a promise from God, or try to remember that Christ in your is greater than anything you might face.
Even if you don’t reach the desired result, you still have life forever in Christ because he’s conquered death. That might seem like an extreme place to go with most of your fears, but going there tends to disarm whatever it is you’re facing.
You tend to make better choices when you’re not afraid. You tend to make great choices when you’re aware of God’s love for you and you feel empowered by His spirit.
STUDY ON FEAR AND HORMONES
I’ll use this as an example of how you can change your focus which will change your emotions which will determine what kind of choices you make. This interesting study that verifies your body chemistry follows your focus. This makes me think of something Paul said, we’re transformed by the renewing of our minds. There is now science that verifies that statement.
Have you ever heard of a Power Pose? Imagine Wonder Woman or Superman.
Here’s the study…
Amy Cuddy, a researcher at Harvard University, studies body language and its impact on hormones. Cuddy and her team have classified different body positions as “high power” or “low power” poses. In general, the high power poses are open and relaxed while the low power poses are closed and guarded.
Cuddy and her research team studied the impact of high power and low power poses by conducting a research study on 42 students. (Original article available here.)
Here's how the study went down…
First, a saliva sample was taken from each subject and their testosterone and cortisol levels were measured.
Second, the subject was asked to sit in either a high power pose or a low power pose for two minutes.
Third, a second sample of saliva was taken from each subject and their testosterone and cortisol levels were measured again.
When the researchers looked at the results, they were stunned by the impact that body language had on the hormones within the body. High power poses increased testosterone by 20 percent and decreased cortisol levels by 25 percent.
Testosterone is a hormone that causes you to feel empowered and confident. Cortisol is released in your body during times of stress and anxiety.
The numbers and science don’t lie, how you use your body changes its chemistry which has an effect on the kinds of choices you make.
HOW TO APPLY THIS TO REAL LIFE
Whether you strike a power pose or not, the point is you can change how you’re feeling in about 2 minutes. When you change how you feel, the kinds of choices you make will change as well.
Think about it, what kinds of choices do you make when you’re afraid? What kinds of choices do you make when you’re aware of God’s love for you and are empowered by his spirit in you.
You can choose to position yourself to be influenced by God’s power in you!!
GOD DOESN’T WANT YOU TO BE AFRAID OF ANYTHING
Why am I talking about choices and fear? Because Paul joins them together when he’s encouraging Timothy to not be afraid to proclaim the Gospel. Here are a couple more translations of this passage…
“Sound mind” is translated as “self-discipline” and “good judgment.” The idea is this, fear is not from God, because he loves you he empowers you to make good decisions. In this article I wanted to give you a deeper understanding of what happens in your physical body around your capacity to make choices. We tend to read scripture without the personal responsibility lens and miss the power of scripture. Don’t just read it, do it!
If you find yourself afraid of a situation, whether real or imagined, you can position yourself before God to be empowered and conquer the fear. He designed your body to respond to your focus. Choose one of his promises in Christ, remember that Jesus conquered death for you and allow your body to change its chemistry and serve you better.
You don’t have top be a victim of your feelings and body chemistry, you can change it!
Try this, every morning for the next 7 days, after you shower and before you head out the door, stand for 2 minutes in a power pose and think about God’s spirit in you. Breathe smoothly and deeply, don’t force your breath, and see what happens.
And try this too. When you feel overwhelmed or afraid, strike a power pose, breathe smoothly and deeply, become aware of God’s spirit in you and the fact that his spirit is leading you into life and blessing, give it 2 minutes, then make the decision you’re facing.
I’d love to hear how this works for you in the comments below.